We recently spotted an article about artist Konstantin Dimopoulos, who has been painting trees blue in urban areas like Seattle and Kenmore. He cloaks the trees with azurite, a soft, deep blue copper mineral that eventually fades and washes away over time. The effect is marvelous, as it transforms what has always been so familiar and essential to us into something quite foreign and strangely conspicuous.
Dimopoulos began his Blue Trees installations in 2010 as an effort to draw attention to shrinking forests around the globe and to the millions of trees being lost to man-made and natural deforestation each year. The basic principle behind the project is to transform the way people view, think about, and process the natural environment around them. When we see the trees for what they’re not–in this instance, blue–we’re forced to re-evaluate the experience we typically have with these entities.
Konstantin writes on his website: “In nature color is used both as a defensive mechanism, a means of protection, and as a mechanism to attract. The Blue Trees attempts to waken a similar response from viewers. It is within this context that the blue denotes sacredness, something reverential.” While I find the choice of blue to be more jarring, intrusive, and bizarre than divine, the trees certainly inspire feelings of awe. There is an assertiveness and an imposing quality to the Blue Trees that seem to almost reshape the landscape surrounding them. How do we make sense of the relationship between these trees and the city blocks or commercial spaces in which they’re placed? How did we make sense of it before the trees were colored blue?
While there have been mixed responses to the project, there’s something to be said about the way it confronts us with the question of disappearing natural elements. This brings me back to the thoughts about green walls and the rise of urban greenery mentioned in a previous post–ironic, is it not, that we seem to be invoking and attempting to revive elements of nature in our urban spaces at the same time we’re supplanting nature via rapid urban development?
Check out Dimopoulos’ work here.