Last year I made a series of landscape collages, titled Field Studies. These collages were composed of thousands of images of trees that I cut out of New York and New Jersey phone book ads. These tree images ranged from the simplest geometric abstractions to detailed color photos. By amassing these diverse representations of nature into a varied but coherent landscape, I was making what could be called subliminal forests of New York.
For the FLOW program, I am interested in selecting 5 to 8 images of trees from local advertisements, enlarging them, and integrating them into the real landscape of New York on Randall’s Island. I envision them as two-dimensional shapes to be installed in the park south of Field 71. They will be 4 to 7 feet tall and made from weather-proofed wood, anchored in the ground by concrete. I will consult with the VLA to make sure that I am not violating any copyright with my selection of images.
The fake trees will provide similar benefits to park-goers as real trees do: shade and aesthetic appeal. The sculptures will also create a visual relationship to existing trees. However, the use of chemically-treated lumber for a sculpture of a tree is clearly ironic, using a similar conceptual mechanism as Magritte’s famous Treachery of Images, but adding another layer: the identity of the material. This project would call attention to the artifice and design of parks as some of the only “natural” settings one encounters in a city. As Robert Smithson wrote, “The authentic artist cannot turn his back on the contradictions that inhabit our landscape.”