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 (works listed in the attachment) 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 focussed on developing contemporary art projects that take a critical approach to social and environmental issues.
Arboreal Collective in collaboration with
THE FOREST PROJECT
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 Project proposes a collaborative space through which this relationship can be reimagined via an altered modern lens: a more hospitable lens that invites intimate expansion through healing. These are worthwhile considerations for the traumas many of us face as a result of lived experience and generational inheritance.
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 emotions, a language, family, sensory capacities, live in symbiosis with other species and climatic influences, and they can love, 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 individually and polyphonously through a primitive/scientific discourse that comes at a crucial time in which we all need saving.
Dr Frosoulla Kofterou
Contributors / Participating artists:
"I'll See You In The Trees" 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 Tree For The Forest' "Video installation focuses on the relation of the one and many. In view of the popular aphorism that warns us not to miss “seeing the forest for the trees”, the work is engaged in the reversibility of the suggested polarity. Even though the forest stands for a number of trees it represents the one, the whole, the singular and the universal, while on the other hand, any particular tree stands for the many, and is thus haunted by the diversity of the multiple..."
'Diagram for Visual Weather' "The purpose of the project is to convey an indoor impression of the forest. At the same time, this impression of the forest will be altered by subtle changes in weather conditions, giving the impression that a small, subtle change in the weather can have a significant impact. It will transfer the change in weather from the actual forest to the indoors (conceptual) "forest" while also magnifying the implications of the actual weather change..."
'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..."
'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)..."
'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 ..."
A guided workshop contains two parts.
The first part is performative led by performer artist Elena Gavriel followed up with a drawing workshop led by visual artist Nina Sumarac will offer participants the opportunity to reconnect with ground and trees through the mind and body. Workshops will happen inside, surrounded by digital forest.
Contributors / Workshop artists:
Contributors / Seminar:
Meeting with local environmental organizations (such as Friends of the Earth, The Cyprus Social Ecology Movement, 300.000 trees in Limassol and The Department of Forests) who will introduce the aims and ideas of their initiatives and action plans, forest and plants in Cyprus., educational history, relation to society and outline the current state of the forests. The latter includes explaining how human activities have been the major cause of the reduction of the forest, exploring the relationship between trees and humans in the urban environment and human influences on tree diversity as well as the composition of a coastal forest ecosystem. Additionally, further information will be provided as to how people can get more involved via group actions and better understand the legal actions that exist to protect trees.
Research and Education in Social Empowerment and Transformation (RESET), an organisation from 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
'One With Nature' "Focalising a guided reconnection with trees through the mind and body. Nature therapy sometimes referred to as ecotherapy, describes a broad group of techniques or treatments that use an individual's presence within nature with the intention of improving an individual's mental or physical health. It is based on the principles of ecopsychology, which look at how we feel interconnected with the earth."
Inner Tree drawing workshop This interactive resonance invites the audience to develop a greater understanding of how this project functions within a framework of collaborative engagement and continuity.