For anyone who has followed my work, you may know that The Blued Trees Symphony challenges conventional ideas about copyright law, as defined by the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA). In Virginia, where over 200 trees have been painted, environmentalists and supporters of this project have just submitted formal comments to oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline there. There will then be a period of 45- 90 days for "injunctive relief," which means that work on that pipeline could be halted, and would save the Blued Trees in Virginia.
The easiest way to keep track of my work on a daily basis is to personally friend me on Facebook (FB). Many personal comments are mixed in there with professional announcements, and I would welcome your presence. You may also follow The Blued Trees Symphony FB page. But occasionally there's something really important that's too long for FB. This is one of those occassions: my formal comments to the Federal Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Virginia to save the Blued Trees there. I am posting it below, because I hope that it will bring attention to an entirely new way of thinking about the relationships between art, environmental science, and the legal premises that determine public policy.
Please find below, the complete text of my formal letter to FERC, which was submitted yesterday.
June 21, 2017
Dear Ms. Bose,
I am writing as the lead artist and producer of The Blued Trees Symphony that is endangered by the path of Mountain Valley Pipeline in Virginia. I attach my cv and a list of venues where you can read further about this work. It has been internationally recognized, with appearances in Korea, the UK and forthcoming, in China. Additionally, I invite you to visit my websites.
In this letter, I want to try to explain the significance, meaning and value of the work I have created and plead for its protection under the 1990 Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA), a division of copyright law. This work is an installation of art that extends across large portions of the landscape of North America, in increments of 1/3 mile each.
Technically, under VARA, this work falls under the category of sculpture, as a new sub-category of copyrightable art: sonified biogeographic sculpture. That is sculpture that is integrally designed to be inseparable from the local biogeographic systems that include the trees, soil and watershed of it’s location. Broadly, this work falls under the genre of ecological art, which is deeply grounded in systems science and has become recognized as a new category of work by art historians and curators.
My PhD is in a crossover field between environmental sciences, technology and studio art. My dissertation developed a theoretical premise: that small sites can be located whose implications for large landscape sustainability and healing is crucial. That original premise is trigger point theory, and the basis for developing The Blued Trees Symphony.
Each increment of this sonified sculpture, termed a “measure,” has been created at the invitation of private landowners for corridors where natural gas pipelines would otherwise devastate habitat and the watersheds that habitat protects. It represents replacing a dysfunction, global warming producing system that threatens the planet, with a system that sustains all life on the plant. The latter system recognizes our interdependence with other species and intact biogeographies.
In each community, local individuals have gathered to paint these trees as a celebration of the natural beauty they cherish, to hear the music of the natural world and to assert their ownership of the land they love. In upper New York State, performers of this work created a manual to instruct people in the painting, to assure that the work would meet the highest aesthetic standards.
The measures follow a template of designated distributions of trees that aerially corresponds to the notes of a reiterated score. Each designated tree becomes a soloist, a tree-note in a synesthetic composition. The trees are designated in their spatial distribution with maps and ground truthing the distancing to accommodate the unique biogeographic elements of each measure. Each painted tree-note in situ is painted by an individual with the sigil of a vertical sine wave whose dimensions are determined by the width of the tree trunk, winding around the tree so that the effect corresponds to the dimensions of the soloist.
Miles of these measures have been painted nationally with an ultramarine blue non-toxic pure pigment mixed with buttermilk to grow moss on the trunks of each tree-note and then copyrighted for protection. The development of this work, as often happens with art, expresses what many believe is a critical mandate for our times: how can art convey the yearnings of communities to feel connected to place, to celebrate the elements of their surroundings, and find hope to survive the extraordinary changes we observe in the Anthropocene era, this era when humans have transformed every living system on earth?
At a time when many people feel a desperate hopelessness and helplessness in the face of indifferent, monolithic corporate power, The Blued Trees Symphony has been a beacon of inspiration and connectivity in the communities where it has been performed and produced.
¥ The Blued Trees Symphony needs to be saved from destruction.
¥ Saving The Blued Trees Symphony means saving the community's environmental rights and cultural aspirations. ¥ This art redefines human relationships to water and the trees that preserve water.
¥ Beauty and health are more important than the corporate profits of multi-national fossil fuel corporations.
I respectfully submit this information you for your consideration and thank you for your attention.
Aviva Rahmani, PhD
Attached: artists biography and cv
List of citations for The Blued Trees Symphony
For those who want to know more about recent work, please visit:
Recent Gulf to Gulf webcasts:
"Creeping Activism" https://vimeo.com/215739440
"From the Ground Up" https://vimeo.com/222428122
Interview with Aviva Rahmani on the Environmental Art Podcast
hosted by Ariel Garber: https://soundcloud.com/rielarber/aviva-rahmani-interview