The Blued Trees Symphony
What if we could identify a point of intervention in chaotic and complex systems that might activate the emergence of a healthy ecosystem? What if the answer to biogeographic degradation is in exercising legal innovations? What if that’s a problem for an artist to tackle? Is there a way to perceive earth systems as matrices of synaesthetic composition?
This work was inspired by Alberta sculptor Peter Von Teisenhausen, who copyrighted his entire ranch in 1996 to stop natural gas corporations from taking his land. Copyright law states that a creative expression has protection from destruction. But Teisenhausen’s concept was never tested because the company voluntarily withdrew.
Blued Trees stands with all activists contesting the taking of land, water and vital resources by corporations seeking to install fossil fuel pipelines.
The realization of Earth Rights and the fulfillment of the original premise of copyright law to protect the spirit of art is the mission of The Blued Trees Symphony. Our goal is to replace a dysfunctional legal system that supports a fossil fuel economy with visionary art that recognizes our interdependence with other life, at an intersection between justice, music, environmental science and art.
At the moment, our focus is opposing the AIM Pipeline with the Blued Trees launch site in Peekskill, New York, USA. The completed work includes a series of 1/3-mile-long synesthetic installations, discreet measures of an aerially conceived symphony in the path of proposed natural gas pipelines as transdisciplinary art. Collectively, these measures constitute a single intercontinental, sonified biogeographic sculpture whose permanence is established by the relationship between tree roots, soil and watersheds. Each installation is represented by irregularly spaced trees designated for painting with a vertical sound wave symbol, using a translucent slurry of non-toxic ultramarine blue pigment and buttermilk that grows. In the forest, the visual effect is subtle and unexpected.
Read Aviva Rahmani's essay The Spirit of Change: Water, Policy, and Ecological Artmaking here
All law is grounded in commonly held opinions about the nature of justice. The legal avenue to take land for gaslines is the exercise of eminent domain, which states that private land may be “taken” if the government deems the taking serves public good. But Earth Rights states that ecosystems also have rights to protection. And the goal of The Blued Trees Symphony is to assert that the spirit of art and resilient habitat constitute public good as much as, perhaps even more than, short-term economic interests.
The Blued Trees Symphony was created to take Von Teisenhausen’s premise further, to the cultural protection of art, to our attitudes towards our environment, and to property rights. It continues to expand across the continent. Since inception, the project has painted miles of measures and contributed to halting or moving four pipelines.
Blued Trees Revised, episode 19th in Marino Colmano's Pipeline Documentary
"In February 2015, I connected with a small group of anti-fracking activists opposing fossil fuel infrastructures causing global warming to explore whether we could leverage copyright law to prevent natural gas pipeline expansions. I created Blued Trees, a symphonic installation, and launched the overture in the path of the Algonquin pipeline. That expanded pipeline would pass 105 feet from the Indian Point nuclear facility in Peekskill, New York, which is thirty miles from New York City. The work is at the invitation and permission of landowners facing property condemnation by eminent domain under the legal rubric of “public good.” Each musical measure of the symphony is 1/3 linear mile, and one tree is one note, marked as sine waves on the trees. The overture measure was iterated in twelve international sites. The paint is a non-toxic casein slurry of ultramarine blue and buttermilk to encourage moss growth. October 4, 2015, was the first movement, following the overture, of what has become a full symphony of events in multiple sites; it took place in Utica, New York, in the path of another pipeline. There will be five movements. The legal defense process is underway. What follows are excerpts from my social media journaling."
— Aviva Rahmani