an object in the urban environment, the street tree is easily forgotten.
It may be seen so often that it is taken for granted, becoming a part of
the background of urban life. At another extreme, it is never noticed from
the outset. Unlike the many inanimate objects which establish our places,
the tree is a living element, highly susceptible to changes in the environment
or neglect. To this end, it requires human interaction to sustain its life.
It needs water. It needs light. It needs to be treated when it is sick.
But first, the tree must be noticed.
The tree archivist is a digital archive which attempts to establish the tree's presence in the urban landscape. It is an observer of the tree and its environment. Its significance lies within the data it collects and not necessarily in the archivist's physical configuration. This allows the archivist to be built and installed with the most appropriate design and siting for a particular location.
Once installed, the archivist immediately begins its record. This includes photographs, climatic conditions, soil conditions and written observations. Like a living organism, the data collected by the archivist grows over time and develops its own unique qualities and characteristics.
The archivist remains in place throughout the life span of the tree. The data collected from its observations are accessible in digital form from publicly accessible computer terminals, the internet or at on-site interactive displays. These access options also allow observations, thoughts, comments and maintenance regarding the tree to be entered into the record by individuals.
During the first few weeks or months, the record may seem repetitive and mundane. Only over time will the value of the information become apparent as the tree's growth or decay is documented. As the record becomes larger and longer, a pattern of the tree's growth, life-cycle and level of human interaction becomes apparent.
If the tree dies or is removed
for urban expansion, the physical fabric of the tree can not be discarded
indiscriminately. The tree must be taken to a paper mill and processed.
The data collected would be printed on this paper and distributed to neighborhood
residents and passers-by at the site. A copy would also be presented to
a local library for cataloging. The archivist could then be removed and
installed at another location.