The Dark Forest from Rachel Jacobs on Vimeo.

The Dark Forest

‘The Dark Forest’ was an interactive project exploring the impact of man’s intervention both positive and negative on our forests.  The project contrasts and connects tropical forests in Brazil to temperate ones in the UK through an artistic exchange linking artists, schools and young people in both regions.

Forests are seen as the lungs of the world, and they are slowly diminishing and changing, but we have few tools to visualise this change, and understand our feelings towards the loss. Active Ingredient hope to reveal new forms of environmental consciousness through exploration of the people, the locations and researching the myths connected to forests. Bringing together “Saci Perere” and “Robin Hood” to join forces in helping protecting nature is now more urgent than ever.

The Dark Forest project had 3 phases:

1.  Research and development in Sherwood Forest and the Mata Atlantica
2.  Exhibition and documentation of the project
3.  Schools exchange in Nottingham and RioThe Dark Forest  exploring how temperate forests in England can contrast shared data with tropical forests in Brazil. Working with artists, scientists and technologists in both countries , the project looked at how we interpret data and how much we invest in the life of forests, as part of our future.

The first phase of the  Dark Forest Project  involved research and development through a collaboration between Active Ingredient, Mobilefest, newTV and the Mixed Reality Lab, University of Nottingham. This process led to a dialogue between the organisations contrasting and comparing the forests on our doorsteps, involving visits to Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire and the Mata Atlantica, in Sao Paulo state.  This resulted in an exhibition as part of Mobilefest 2009 at the Museo do Imagem e Som, Sao Paulo creating a dialogue between a tree outside the museum in Sao Paulo, Brazil and in Nottingham, UK, visualising the invisible data around the trees.

The next phase of the project involved a collaboration between Active Ingredient and Silvia Leal from Estudio Movel Experimental and Bruno Rezende Silva from Rio Botanical Gardens, managing workshops and an exchange between young people in Djanogly Academy in Nottingham and a group of young people in Rio.  This time working in Sherwood Forest and the Mata Atlantica (Tijuca Forest) with the mobile sensor kits.h

As a result of the ongoing collaboration between the artists, scientists and technologist in the UK and Brazil, Active Ingredient have developed A Conversation Between Trees, which will extend the collaboration to Carlo Bountempo, senior climate change scientist at the Hadley Centre, MET office UK.

The Dark Forest project evolved from discussions with Mobilefest and newTV in Brazil about the Mobilefest Expedition BR 163.  This project is an original screenplay developed by Marcelo Godoy from newTV Production Company. After two years of research the project has joined with  Mobilefest – International Festival of Mobile Art and Creativity, with the intent of creating  an online documentary using the latest mobile technologies available.

In December 2007, Active Ingredient was invited to participate in the project, in order to add resources for mapping, location, and augmented reality, as well as to support the interactive elements of the project.  From these discussions the Dark Forest was developed as a dialogue that would enable a cultural exchange through the development of an artwork and schools exchange.

The Dark Forest: An Installation

The first stage involves research into tracking and sensing changes in Sherwood Forest, UK and the Mata Atlantica, Brazil.  The team are working with schools in both countries, using mobile and web technologies to learn about sensing the forests as they are now, shared myths and the future of our forests.

Active Ingredient are setting up a sensor device in the Mata Atlantica, Brazil and Sherwood Forest, UK attached to an ancient tree in both forests.  This device will track the following types of data:

- humidity
- light
- sound (decibels)
- CO2
- movement and light through a camera

Both sets of data are visualised as a constantly changing 3D version of the camera images taken of the view up to the sky, the different live data being sent from the forest creates visual and audio responses projected as 3D images.

The installation connects a tree in the Mata Atlantica and Sherwood Forest, building a dialogue that reveals what is happening simultaneously in these two iconic forests of the world.

Active Ingredient in collaboration with Silvia Leal (EME), Bruno Rezende Silva from Rio Botanical Gardens, NewTV, Mobilefest and the Mixed Reality Lab, University of Nottingham have led this process using innovative sensor and mobile technologies towards the creation of a new installation, exhibited in Nottingham and Sao Paulo during 2009 and due to be developed as part of a new artwork and collaboration between the UK and Brazil in 2010.

A Photographic exhibition was exhibited at:
New Art Exchange, Gregory Boulevard, Nottingham
Wednesday 14th September – Saturday 25th September

The first installation exhibition:

Mobilefest International Festival of Mobile Technology, MIS, Avenida Europa, 158, Jardim Europa, Sao Paulo
Thursday 12th – Sunday 15th November

The Dark Forest has been supported by The Arts Council of England East Midlands, Nottingham County Council, Nottingham City Council, Mixed Reality Lab University of Nottingham and UKTI.