The Impossible Timescale of Trees
Team: Andrew Gilmour, Laure Nolte and Michael MacLean
Animation from 3D Digital Modelling based on photographic point clouds, 13s Looped, 2020
The Impossible Timescale of Trees is a 5 part narrative that unfolds over the course of a 24-hour period, both online and in amplified reality.

"The trees have long been trying to reach us. But they speak on frequencies too low for humans to hear." - Richard Powers, The Overstory

The Impossible Timescale of Trees is a communion with the natural world. In this work, trees share the intimate details of their lives: how they are born, who they live by and with, the stories they tell each other, how they gain sustenance. In this way, this work is inspired by The Overstory by Richard Powers; A novel in one way about how humans come to the knowledge of trees. The natural world has been speaking to us for time immemorial, but we have lost the skill to hear and listen.

The Impossible Timescale of Trees is a five-part story that unfolds over the course of a 24-hour period: pre-dawn, mid-day, afternoon, evening, and night. In this piece, the trees will transmit, the artists will translate, and the audience will receive. The natural world we share our built environment with helps us to define and locate ourselves within our memories and experiences. The use of an artistic ‘augmented’ reality draws attention to natural perspectives of lived experiences. It offers an opportunity to explore potential futures or speculate narratives from the past from a perspective separate from our own. The ‘augmented’ reality in this work suggests
that there are alternative narratives we aren’t listening to and by illustrating this possibility we hope viewers can begin to perceive these narratives in their own lives.

A ginkgo biloba tree on Morris Street lives between slabs of urbanity; Between concrete, bitumen, and surface run-off. The ginkgo is a 270-million-year-old living fossil. If this little tree on Morris Street could speak, what would it say? In the passage and echoes of millions of years, can we make time to hear and listen?

The little ginkgo shares the intimate details of its ancient life: how it was born, who it lives by and with, the stories it tells other trees, how it gains sustenance. The data collected by the artists from the tree is translated using 3D visualization and modelling technologies to develop an immersive amplified reality experience.

The Impossible Timescale of Trees gives the audience a means of receiving, hearing, and listening to the ginkgo. The audience can experience the project in a digital space through a website, and in an amplified reality experience in the city, where the work will be projected against the glass surfaces of Dalhousie University’s IDEA Building on Morris Street. In-person, the audience can stand in the presence of the little ginkgo tree while also experiencing the immersive amplified reality projections across the street. The durational five-part story means that each time an audience member passes--maybe many times over the course of a day, or maybe only once--the ginkgo will have something new to say; Each time, the information the
audience receives from the ginkgo is slightly different as the passage of millions of years skips, reverberates, and echoes