Arboreal is an installation by SRG Bennett, on display at the Royal Geographical Society as part of the Landlines show, 4th-14th September 2019. The work comprises three cross-sections of British trees, digitally engraved with data to complement the organic information they already hold.
The London plane was felled in Euston, where air pollution was sixth worst in the UK. Air pollution data is engraved in the wood as a digital counterpoint to the residue from emissions in its bark. The oak slice contains both digital and organic information about biodiversity the tree supports. The yew’s bark and needles are toxic. We now know this property not only helps prolong the tree’s life, it means that yew extracts can be used in chemotherapy treatment.
The juxtaposition of digital and analogue forms of knowledge hints at the historical inflexion point we currently occupy regarding how information is derived from the world.
As data grows in its vastness, the translation into policy becomes more complex. There are examples where the public, evidence and policy have been disconnected: flood protection, climate action, biodiversity. With Arboreal, I’m experimenting with representing information in interactive and unexpected ways to increase the salience of evidence in the public realm.