Natalie Jeremijenko's assorted prescriptions, including OneTrees

The Eyeo Festival, a three-day conference in Minneapolis, MN brings together experts from the worlds of art, programming, experience design and data visualization. Included in this year’s speakers are familiar PopTech faces like Heather Knight, Zach Liebermann, Nicholas Felton, and Jer Thorp. Watch for updates from the Festival through Wednesday.

Incorporating multiple disciplines into her work including genetics, biochemistry, physics, neuroscience and precision engineering, Natalie Jeremijenko produces art which displays abstract, global environmental problems in immediately observable ways. As the director of New York University’s Environmental Health Clinic she attempts to show how environmental health and personal health can be seen as one and the same.

Jeremijenko presented on Monday night at the Eyeo Festival in Minneapolis, MN, covering a wide range of projects (or “prescriptions” as she calls them) including fish-sensing Amphibious Architecture, pollutant-sniffing robot dogs, a directory of photo essays about how everyday objects are manufactured, and a solar chimney that collects black carbon and reformulates it as pencil lead (to name a few).

One “prescription” in particular that stood out was the OneTree(s) project — an exhibition and public art installation composed of 1,000 genetically identical trees. The clones were first exhibited as young seedlings at San Fransisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, then paired up and planted throughout the San Francisco Bay Area in Spring 2003. From the project’s website:

Because the trees are genetically identical, in the subsequent years they will render the social and environmental differences to which they are exposed. The tree(s) slow and consistent growth will record the experiences and contingencies that each public site provides. They will become a networked instrument that maps the micro climates of the Bay Area, connected not through the Internet, but through their biological material.

Eight years later, the trees are still growing — and continue to be a legible environmental indicator. In 2010 Jeremijenko organized the “One Tree(s) Two Wheel Bicycle Tour” to visit many of the trees and observe differences in growth in different locations.

Images: Environmental Health Clinic

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