Arboreal Collective is a collaborative team of three artists, Nina Sumarac, Nicos Synnos, and Christos Panayiotou. Since 2000 Synnos and Sumarac have worked on experimental films and animation production by Toonachunks studio shown at festivals around Cyprus and abroad, which received numerous awards. Synnos and Panayiotou collaborate on projects in the newly-established Lab for Animation Research at the Department of Fine Arts, based at the Cyprus University of Technology. Recently Sumarac, Synnos and Panayiotou have teamed up to form a creative collective focused on developing contemporary art projects that take a critical approach to social and environmental issues.
Arboreal Collective, in collaboration with Lab for Animation Research (LAR) within the Department of Fine Arts of the Cyprus University of Technology, will present from 25.02. 2022 until 11.03.2022, at NeMe Arts Centre, their first project titled 'The Forest".
The Lab for Animation Research (LAR) is a research centre for studying art animation. Specifically, LAR operates as a lab within the Department of Fine Arts of the Cyprus University of Technology that aims to study the artistic possibilities of animation. LAR uses a wide range of digital and “traditional” technologies and artistic practices to experiment, research and develop innovative modes of creating animation artworks. This exhibition focalizes four collaborative pieces by Nina Sumarac, Nicos Synnos, Christos Panagiotou and Charalampos Margaritis that explore and extend these research practices.
Exploring the anatomy of selfhood through nature and technology may at first glance seem contradictory due to a long-standing narrative within contemporary culture that often focalises a regressive relationship between science, the natural world and people. Taking this scepticism as a point of departure, 'The Forest' proposes a collaborative space that reimagines this relationship via an altered modern lens: a more hospitable lens that invites intimate expansion through healing.
Redressing imbalances on a cellular level is in some respects akin to the slow art movement philosophy, which calls for audiences to develop a more mindful relationship with art. In this vein, the project invites thought-provoking contributions by Cypriot and international artists that initiate gradual changes in these perspectives via an exhibition, educational talks and interactive workshops. As a comparative study of people and trees, this exhibition continues to explore humanity and its complexities within the context of nature. Utilising new technologies such as artificial intelligence alongside a long-standing love of trees to create these conceptual transplantations, Arboreal Collective holds space for vital experiments to be made between the oldest and newest living beings.
Recent scientific inquiry is aligning itself with a long-established belief in the sophisticated communication network, which trees engage with to sustain and nurture each other. As social beings, they behave collectively and protectively. Trees have language, family, and sensory capacities, live in symbiosis with other species and climatic influences and can count and remember. This vital discovery of plant intelligence could provide some answers to many of today's environmental challenges. As a means of exploring the nurturing potential between humanity, nature and technology, this exhibition gives equal weight to all three by interweaving the narratives they convey through a primitive/scientific discourse that comes at a crucial time in which we all need saving.
Dr Frosoulla Kofterou.
'Alien Forest' 2021 GPT-2, StyleGAN2 "Alien Forest is part of an ongoing project, inspecting the impact of the Cypriot natural landscape by a variety of colonisers. This first stage focuses on the British colonisation of the island and its forest policies. The Forest Department was established by the British Colonial Government in Cyprus in 1879, a year after the annexation of the island to the British empire, to protect and restore..."
'On The Seamlessness of Trees' "... is a multimedia installation presenting a non-linear animated film. The non-linearity is achieved through the use of a software which presents the film’s various narrative parts in random order, following a diagram of predetermined conditions of succession, resulting in these narrative parts being interwoven with each other in a nonlinear way..."
a performance "...Cypress trees have symbolic connotations with death, immortality and mourning in many cultures. In Greek mythology, Cyparissus, a young boy accidentally killed his beloved tame deer in a forest and was so grief stricken that he asked to weep forever. instead, he was transformed into a Cypress tree with the tree's sap as his tears. Cypress trees are associated also with the underworld because they do not regenerate when cut back severely. They often stand as grave markers..."
'Where the roots are' mix media "People are like trees, they spread their roots into the ground; When they are younger, it's easier to relocate, but as older as they get, the roots go deeper into the ground, tie them with other trees, attach stronger to the place. They also adapt with the environment, grow their branches through the light and nest birds and other small creatures in them, and become a part of the environment they are in. That space actually shapes them into what they become ..."
'I'll See You In The Trees' "This is a comparative study of people and trees, which explores humanity and its complexities within the context of nature, thus forging a path to self-realization. In a bid to convey dynamic connectivity, which neutralizes bias while initiating empathy and compassion, participants were asked to illustrate their innermost self while considering the anatomical attributes of trees.It is these deep personal insights, which the artist has forested..."
'Seeing the Forest for the Trees, Seeing the Tree for the Forest.” "...In view of the popular aphorism that warns us not to miss “seeing the forest for the trees”, this work is engaged with inverting the polarity conveyed, by considering the relationship between the one and the many. As a whole, the forest, in its universal sense, stands for the many trees it represents, while each tree is what comprises this singular form. Entirety is in this sense traced out through increments and ..."
'These 7000 Oaks Do Not Exist' 2020- GAN, NFT " In the spirit of the coming "100 years of Beuys" celebration I envisioned "the 7000 oaks do not exist", in which I took a database of over 250 oak trees on white backgrounds and generated the 7000 Oaks as the result of AI-based GAN image generation. Also in the spirit of Beuys' environmentalism, "my "7000 Oaks" could be expanded also to "might not exist (because of this GAN or NFT)..."
'Visual microclimate' The project is a new media installation. The primary body of the installation consists of a cube approximately one cubic meter in which threat (thin strand) lines are hung. The cube is made of water pipes. A projector projects an image of shapes and colors that formalistically depend on the outdoor weather conditions. The weather conditions were sampled from different rural, semi-woodland, and forest areas in Cy
'Visual weather' The project is a new media installation. A projector is used to project the image of abstract shapes and colors that are formed by visualizing live data taken from a weather station located in Kyperounda near the Troodos forest. A weather station is installed to store weather data (temperature, wind speed and direction, atmospheric pressure, and dew point) in an internet-based cloud service. The computer receives the weather data in .json format and analyses it with...
Saturday, 26th of February, 2022. Time:11am - 13pm.
A two-part guided workshop inside Nina Sumarac’s digital forest, installed in the gallery space. This begins with a meditation practice led by the performance artist Elena Gavriel, followed by a drawing session with Sumarac herself. This workshop is an extension of the exhibition’s aim to encourage people to reengage with nature through practices that inspire reflection, imagination and channelling, modelled on the life of trees. Pressing against the COVID-19 cacophony, this workshop transplants participants into the oldest community of beings, amplifying new pathways to thinking, being and communicating via the technological lens that has become our ‘new normal.
Using various meditation practices that focus on movement, breathwork and mindfulness, participants will play up the parallels between their own lives and how trees live in the context of natural elements. This synthesis aims to bridge our growing disconnect from nature, resulting in most recently from the pandemic, the virtual world and urbanization by bringing the senses back into balance.
Elena Gavriel is a professional dance artist, teacher and yoga instructor who studied at the Cambridge Performing Arts by Bodywork Company. She constantly seeks out a sense of self-development through her work and interactions with people. As an environmentalist, she aims to raise awareness by treating the Earth with compassion and respect.
In the second part of the workshop, Nina will build on the perspectives developed in part one via a collaborative drawing practice. This guided session will provide deeper insights into how the exhibition was constructed, as participants engage in the creative process by embodying its continuity. No prior experience is required, and drawing materials will be provided.
Seminar and contributors:
‘Climate Change and Forests ‘
Saturday, 12th of March 2022. Time:11am - 13pm
Dr Milto Miltiadou from CUT University and Natasa Ioannou from Friends of the Earth Cyprus will present the current research being conducted on the public focusing on “Climate Change and Forests” conducted as part of the ASTARTE (EXCELLENCE/0918/0341) project since 2021.
Dr Milto Miltiadou
Laboratory of Geodesy, Civil Engineering and Geomatics
The Cyprus University of Technology, & Eratosthenes Centre of Excellence
Dr Milto Miltiadou is a researcher interested in the advancement of algorithms for forest monitoring. She completed her EngD at the University of Bath UK and the Remote Sensing group, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK. She worked on the detection of dead standing Eucalypt trees for managing biodiversity in Australia, efficient data structures for managing LiDAR during 3D polygon model creation and time-series SAR data analysis for understanding phenological changes of Cypriot forests. She is proficient in C++, Python, R, computer graphics, image processing, machine learning, visualisations, co-registration and interpretation of multi-sensory data. Experience in both academia and industrial innovation was achieved through her international placements that include two forestry companies: Carbomap (UK) and Interpine Group Ltd (NZ). She is a reviewer at high-impact well-established journals: Remote Sensing of the Environment, MDPI Remote Sensing, Sensors and Applied Sciences. Her manuscript was acknowledged as a distinguished contribution by Ladies of Landsat and also included in the Most Notable Articles of the MDPI Remote Sensing Journal for December 2020 - February 2021. She is an Artic code Vault Contributor of the 2020 Github Archive Program with her open-source software DASOS (https://github.com/Art-n-MathS/DASOS) being selected for inclusion in the program.
Friends of the Earth Cyprus
Natasa Ioannou is a Project Officer for the environmental organisation Friends of the Earth Cyprus since 2014. She previously worked as Programmes Coordinator for the NGO Support Centre on sustainable development issues. Following her studies in Biology, Marine Environmental Management and Environmental Politics, she has worked mainly in civil society organisations both at the national and European level, including Friends of the Earth Europe, Coral Cay Conservation in London and the Environmental Commissioner in Cyprus. She is also the General Secretary of the environmental organisation Ecological Movement Cyprus. Her professional line of focus also includes education and public awareness campaigns, as well as activism, community organising and mobilising on environmental justice issues.
Dr Eliza Patouris
Research and Education in Social Empowerment and Transformation (RESET), Limassol.
With over 20 years of combined experience in research and education, RESET develops constructive and education-centred solutions to the most demanding societal challenges of our time. RESET invests in the creation, evolution, and revolution of social-driven concepts, systems and practices which prioritize humanity. Our organization accelerates and amplifies positive local, national, regional and global change through the power of research and education.
Project funded by:
Cyprus Republic Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth Cultural Services
Mrs Eugenia Francesca Soncini, Italy.