Arbornauts | Lydia Burggraaf

The Arbornauts is a collaboration between Amanda White, Meghan Krauss, and Lydia Burggraaf that attempts to re-imagine our engagement with public space in the urban environment. Existing between the unknown and the obvious, the urban tree canopy becomes the site of an imaginary mission similar to the mesmerizing early space expeditions. On these expeditions, the Arbornauts venture into the frontier (climb trees in public spaces) to retrieve valuable geophysical information. As a narrative for the project, our objective is to survey these new geographies for future use, however in reality our objective is to provoke tree climbing behaviour.

Public city parks exist in the marginal space between nature (where humans are not) and the city; this definition of the space necessitates our engagement with the park to be within our capacity as a cultured human, in contrast to that of the uncultured child or animal climbing trees. As the Arbornauts, we normalize our tree-climbing through the use of uniforms and “professional” looking equipment. During our climbs, we attract attention and confusion from by-passers, who will hopefully project themselves into our places and reconsider their surroundings. In addition to forging a relationship between urbanites and their “natural” surroundings, the Arbornauts are playing with the transgression of social standards – the Arbornauts are not just adults playing in trees but also women taking on the role of explorer.

© JoAnna 2015