Public Artwork for trees and a spacecraft
The Tree of Life is the primary project of The Space Song Foundation, a collaborative effort between Julia Christensen and space scientists and engineers, to design spacecraft and interplanetary communication technology that can operate for 200 years or more. The project grew out of a series of studies Christensen took part in at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab about a potential future interstellar probe, in which the group came to a major conclusion about how we must transcend current frames of technological obsolescence in order to build a spacecraft that can complete a mission to an interstellar destination like Proxima B. The Tree of Life pushes on contemporary consumer frames of obsolescence to create long-lived technology that centers the Earth as a sustainable/sustained component in the design. The public art project includes a CubeSat to be deployed in low-Earth orbit for 200 years, during which time it will transmit data about its health/operations to a series of terrestrial trees that have been augmented to act as living, Earthly antenna. At the site of the trees, simultaneously, a 200-year dataset is measured to describe the tree’s health and environmental conditions. That data will be translated into audible sonic frequencies that can be transmitted via radio between the tree and CubeSat, so that effectively, the tree and spacecraft can sing together in a 200-year duet.
Tree of Life Kickstarter project page (archived)
“Jeff Koons Doesn’t Get It,” by Hall Rockefeller, Hyperallergic, July 6, 2022
“The Tree of Life,” by Daryl King, Whitehot Magazine, March 2020
“This Artist Wanted to Teach Aliens about Life on Earth…” by Brian Boucher, Artnet, 12/8/20
“Oberlin Artist Plans Space Art Project…” by Steve Litt, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 12/6/20