II. TREES ON THE INTERNET
Early in 2000 Toyoji Tomita, musician, performance artist and landscape contractor, got the bid to landscape the Frank Ogawa plaza in downtown Oakland. As part of this contract Toyoji set aside some seed funds to help with the development of some art related work. From some earlier conversations he contacted me to discuss how we might connect up all the trees he was planting so that they may be connected to the Internet by some sensors. At that time we went ahead and laid 5 conductor wire to each of the trees and began the early research into the specifics of what sensor technology would give the clearest information about how to connect these trees to the internet and what to do with the data they produced. At this time we have settled on some distinct technologies. It ends up there is a plant monitoring horticulture sub discipline called phytomonitoring. Various large agricultural firms to monitor the health and ripeness of specific crops use Phytomonitoring.
The most recent and interesting technology to come out of this industry is the Granier sap flow sensor. They are based on a constant-heat energy balance method, which requires no calibration and avoids piercing the stem with temperature probes. Each system comprises a heating element and 3 sensors.
The biggest users of this technology are the grapes growing industry and the Figure below shows a commercially available implementation of phytomonitoring used to monitor grape ripeness and general vineyard health. This technology easily maps over to our intended use.
Additionally, the video image each tree that is a node on the network will be webcast with a video overlay showing where each of the sensors is located. In this way the artist and/or scientist using the data can make some sort of determination of the inter relationship of the incoming information.
Initially this information will drive sonically based generative music programs that will use the information directly to drive the various parameters of harmony, melody, timbre, etc that are present in the music. My initial experiments have been in Supercollider 3 (http://supercollider.sourceforge.net/) which is an open source synthesis program that is a variant of small talk and has the capability to be easily integrated into the reticular network based architecture that is the underlying structure of this entire project.
However, beyond making this just a giant international high technology sap flow ≥wind chime≤, our conception is to link this information with the ongoing Global Consciousness Project at Princeton (http://noosphere.princeton.edu): see below for details