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Green Music Box

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With the advancement of technologies, more and more infrastructures have increasingly affected human life. One of the most observable infrastructures is a number of trees as they constitute an essential part of living environments, providing shade, fruits, oxygen, as well as building materials. Through this project, I will explore trees as a giant infrastructure in the city and suggest ways to instigate and provoke Providence residence through encountering unfamiliar new experiences, by combining tree-related datasets and technological interventions.

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Green Music Box

  1. 1. Engagements with Infrastructure Green Music Box in Providence Digital+Media 16’ / Hyemi Song Introduction With the advancement of technologies, more and more infrastructures have increasingly affected human life. One of the most observable infrastructures is a number of trees as they constitute an essential part of living environments, providing shade, fruits, oxygen, as well as building materials. Through this project, I will explore trees as a giant infrastructure in the city and suggest ways to instigate and provoke Providence residence through encountering unfamiliar new experiences, by combining tree-related datasets and technological interventions. General Research 1. Trees as an infrastructure of a city In general, urban trees not only generate shade, oxygen, beauty and fruits, but also provide building materials, firewood and act as a pollutant-filter. In addition, trees absorb airborne and ground toxins, reduce water run-off into storm systems, stabilize soil to prevent erosion, mitigate reflected heat off road and sidewalks, provide wind control, animal habitats, and is a source of food and flowers. These functions of trees, therefore, are closely associated with the increase of real estate values, and the balance of local ecosystem, which ultimately affects human life in many ways. What is more, interestingly, a single mature tree absorbs CO2 at a rate of 48 pounds per year, while at the same time, releases O2 to support two human beings per year. Furthermore, over the course of one calendar year, an acre of trees absorbs CO2 produced by a car driven 8700 miles. Taking these statistics and research into consideration, it is not surprising that trees can be regarded as a great and giant infrastructure in modern times. 2. Trees in Providence According to the 2006 Tree Inventory in Providence reported by the Open Data Portal, approximately 25,000 street trees, including 115 species, were planted in this city. In fact, in 1907, about 50,000 street trees were in Providence, after 75 years, its population significantly reduced to 22,320. Since then, nearly 7,000 additional street trees have been planted through the activities and endeavors of PNPP (Providence Neighborhood Planting Program) which was established in 1988. Aside from the program, a range of trees are successively planted and protected by several different organizations for better lives of the 182,911 general public in Providence. Figure 1. 115 species of trees in Providence. Ideation 1. Fact & Technological Intervention Trees can contain not only inherited biological data, such as species, age, and the amount of absorbed CO2 and released O2, but also environment-related data, like the response of wind, temperature, and so on. With this kind of dataset along side technological interventions, the range of obtainable data of trees will be greatly extended. Based on all of this kind of information, I predicted probable, plausible, possible, and preferable scenarios and fictions, considering several different prerequisites and their anticipated results.
  2. 2. 2. What if... 1) What if people in Providence could listen to trees’ message ? What if people in Providence could intuitively notice the detail information of trees? What if people in Providence could sensitively smell the scent of trees? What if trees could absorb and release other substances, besides O2 and CO2? What if trees have a repository to remember an interaction with humans? What if trees could be a digital device to provide unexpected experiences to humans? What if...... 2) What if a single mature tree not only absorbs CO2 at a rate of 48 pounds/year, but also absorbs people’s everyday sounds. What if a single mature tree not only releases O2 to support two human beings/year, but also emit sounds. (i.e. say hello to passengers everyday) In a year, an acre of trees absorbs not only CO2 produced by a car driven 8700 miles, but also ....???? 3. Direction The focal point of “What if” ideation is finding a technological intervention which facilitates the generation of new and futuristic experiences for humanity beyond the present benefits wrought by trees. In this process, I paid attention to the fact that trees, naturally, provide us tangible, optical, and olfactory stimulations. In contrast, their auditory stimuli cannot be perceived to humans, apart from physical sounds caused by wind. By extension, in terms of communication between trees and mankind, if the perception of trees can be successfully decoded in the future, thanks to the development of science, we would not only be able to find a new form of communication so that human being interacts with trees, including also other nonhuman creatures, but be enabled to devise more radical and innovative means of protecting trees with the close detection of their emotions or thinking. In-depth Research : The detection of trees’perception and sensing technologies What if tree could talk to humans? What if mankind could listen to the stories of trees? These questions are the epicenter of this project. According to several different scientific research, plants have a conversation using a language. Furthermore, they have a perceptive ability such as sight, smell, taste, touch, balance and memory. For instance, Richard Kabana, who is an ecologist, wrote in the magazine, WIRED, about his research that he discovered mountain mugwort which had a conversation with each other; thereafter, learned their language and thus, gradually understood their conversation. Also, Daniel Chamovitz, who is a biologist and an author of the book, “What A Plant Knows”, takes us into the lives of different types of plants, and draws parallels with the human senses to reveal that we have much more in common with sunflowers and oak trees than we may realize. Besides these researches, there are studies that plants use electronic signals though they do not have a neuron system. Take Arabidopsis for instance, when a larva chews its leaves, this plant activates its defense mechanism, sending an electronic signal to distance leaves with the speed, 8.9 cm/min in order to secrete a chemical substance, Jasmonate which reduces the appetite of larvas. With this point of research, scientists who are interested in the plant communication have developed sensors to detect plant perception, language, and thinking to hear as a designer dealing with botany-based data. Design proposal : Green Music Box in Providence Based on these questions and research, I will propose a social service design, Green Music Box in Providence, in which the local trees provide recommended music with fiction based on tree-data. A detailed elucidation is as follows.
  3. 3. Firstly, installed sensors on trees thoroughly detect all responses of trees toward external stimulations, such as chemical, balance gravity, light, and moisture. In this process, gathered data is transmitted to a system that the data can be mined, classified, and analyzed. When this process is complete, the data becomes a form of information, like an emotion, thinking, and the context of trees, subsequently, combines with a huge amount of music dataset. For instance, When Arabidopsis (rockcress) secretes a chemical substance, Jasmonate (hormone signals) being attacked by larvas for long period of time, while at the same time, has evidence that they triggered electronic signals because of the assail, these data and record will be information as a negative emotion. Together with this process, music data which has same tags or is already classified in same categories, like sad and embarrassed, with trees is sorted to be recommended to users. Consequently, the selected music lists are continuously transmitted to the mobile devices of pedestrians who walk along trees in Providence, which allows users to listen to recommended music lively and to play saved music lists later on. When users move into a subpage of web/mobile application, they cannot only view visualized trees’ emotion, negative and positive, on the Providence map, but also read fiction that is written based on the data of tree. The visualized tree map mainly comprises two sorts of color dots, which enable users to observe how many trees are suffering from their negative emotion, while at the same time, feel happy. Design mockup Figure 2. Interaction, scenario, and data flow
  4. 4. Figure 3. First Depth_Interaction scenario: Receiving recommend music lists with a mobile application during walking along trees in Providence Figure 4. Second Depth_Visualized two sort of trees’ emotions : red dot (negative), green dot (positive) Figure 5. Second Depth_ Fictions which are written based on trees’ data
  5. 5. Figure 6. Critique installation Conclusion During the manipulation phase of this project, the selection of data and the determination of final piece was the difficult part of the creation. Particularly, devising a design to provide generated music based on trees’ data, instead of providing recommended music to users was the concept that I seriously considered by the end of the project. Unfortunately, this idea was abandoned because the generated music of nearly 25,000 trees might be recognized as a same sound to people even if the music was composed of individual trees’ significant dataset, which means that the trees’ datasets could not be transformed into information. Contrarily, recommended music lists clearly have informative characteristics which can convey the emotion and biological status of each tree, thanks to their unique message, feeling, as well as image among the public; thus, the concept that providing recommended music lists was selected. Even so, the idea of generating a music with the use of trees’ data is surely valuable in terms of conceptual art and performance, which in turn, would additionally also be studied as another infrastructural project by me.
  6. 6. Reference Book Speculative everything | Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby The infrastructural city | Kazys Varneils Street Furniture | Chris van Uffeien Digital by design | Troika Museums in a digital age | Ross parry Windows and mirrors | Bolter and Gromaia Website http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qv-iluydZOo http://www.whataplantknows.com/ http://blog.naver.com/pilha5/220075988035 https://www.wallenberg.com/kaw/en/research/he-converts-electronic-signals-biological-signals http://blog.chosun.com/blog.log.view.screen?logId=7225798&userId=mdyooao101 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_perception_(paranormal) http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2010/07/16/plants-cannot-think-and-remember-but-theres-nothing- stupid-about-them-theyre-shockingly-sophisticated/ http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/feb/21/bees-flowers-electric-fields-communication http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090309105030.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_perception_(paranormal) http://ivanhenriques.com/re-search/naturetechnology/ http://www.youris.com/Environment/Interviews/Andrea-Vitaletti---Talking-PlantsScience-Fiction.kl

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