Sunday, April 19, 2009
The REDreadTREE Strategy
By painting a dead tree red this will make all the dead trees along the highway more visible – and readable. A ‘Red Tree’ will be ‘read’ and stand out in the landscape, as an unlikely intervention. The action of painting a tree red has a simple message and symbolically it will:
• be‘read’ and thus no longer dead;
• be ‘read’ albeit at 110 kilometres per hour; and
• be better ‘read’ (or red) than dead.
• carry with it symbolisms attached to red;
• carry new messages and meanings for highway travellers
• mark (and cryptically restates) the fact that 'The Red Tree’ is no longer all that dead.
In particular, the ‘red/read’ double entendre takes on a new poignancy in a Landliteracy context.
Painting a tree ‘red’ is about intervening in the landscape, reclaiming the site and branding the site with a memory of the living tree. Striking a tree red (as it was struck dead) changes the ways it might be read. To be affective these actions need to be done with considerable care and attention paid to the detail of creating an ‘aesthetic’ and attending to the ‘formal’ concerns.
Painting a tree red in the landscape has an inbuilt success factor in that the aesthetic and formal concerns are inherent in the tree and the landscape. The 'art-action' is concerned with ‘divining’, reinventing and declaring these things rather than ‘designing’ them. On the other hand, painting a tree red is about inventing (constructing) the idea rather than either ‘claiming or reclaiming’ it. To reinforce the symbolism, and achieve a satisfactory aesthetic outcome, there are demands to be met as the idea is constructed – not simply found in ‘place’. In terms of the ‘place’s story the construction (reconstruction) has a special poignancy.
Being halfway between Hobart and Launceston carries the Red Tree Site at Antill Ponds had a particular landmark significance in Tasmania and along the Midlands Highway. Curiously, the location is simultaneously in ‘the middle’ and at ‘the edge’ – north of it people read the Examiner and drink Boag’s beer while to the south they read The Mercury and drink Cascade beer.