The City of London Heritage Trust foiled my latest installation on Hampstead Heath.
Copyright; Photo, by John Anthony Thadracin, Hampstead Heath, (06/2023)
The Mourning Tree installation raises essential questions about the role of technology in our lives and our relationship with the natural world. The sculpture consists of a tree with a part reinstalled, destroyed by a storm three years prior. The installation symbolises how technology is often installed in obscure places around our cities to collect data invisibly and without our knowledge.
The emphasis on the invisible infrastructure of technology draws attention to how our data is collected and used to identify us as potential targets in an algorithm that separates us into categories to direct the relevant consumer goods. This underscores the need for us to remain vigilant in the face of technological advancements and actively work towards creating a world in which technology serves us rather than vice versa.
In addition, the installation alludes to the increasing use of AI and surveillance technologies to identify and categorise human beings, raising concerns about privacy and the potential abuse of technology by those whose aim is financial gain. Finally, it serves as a reminder that we must be mindful of the effects of technology on our lives and work towards reclaiming our identities without an algorithm telling us who we are and how we must fit and behave.
Moreover, the Mourning Tree is a work of mourning because we have begun to view nature through our screens, losing our connection with the natural world. The installation invites us to reflect on how we engage with nature and reminds us of the importance of being present and experiencing the world directly rather than through technological mediation.
The installation is subtle yet impactful, empathetic and powerful, inviting us to contemplate our relationship with technology and the natural world in a poignant and thought-provoking way. It is a work of art that challenges us to think deeply about the role of technology in our lives and the importance of maintaining our connection with the natural world.