|Marshmallow Laser Feast
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“Treehugger: Wawona, the latest virtual reality installation from Marshmallow Laser Feast, reveals the secret life of the giant sequoia and never-before-seen inner workings of the world’s largest tree. Treehugger uniquely illustrates the sequoia’s immense scale and questions our relationship with the natural world at a time of crisis and change.”
Marshmallow Laser Feast, Author
How can technology provide us with novel ways to connect with nature? The winner of 2017 Tribeca Storyscapes Award, Treehugger: Wawona explores this question with a mixed reality VR installation. The project makes visible the powerful inner systems of a sequoia tree by visualizing the circulation of water from its deep roots, through its gigantic trunk, to its leaves. The user is immersed in a hypnotic flow of water and energy, while his/her perception of time is altered, in relation to the temporality of a 3000-year-old sequoia tree.
In order to explore and interact with the virtual environment, the user is encouraged to put his/her head inside the cavity of a foam sequoia tree. Scent dispensers located in the VR headsets produce a custom-design sequoia forest scent, adding further realism to the experience. By combining immersive visuals–achieved by Marshmallow Laser Feast’s signature Lidar scan method and pointillist aesthetics–, positional tracking via sensors, and the senses of touch and smell, Treehugger: Wawona opens up a new venue for mixed reality experiences. Furthermore, “Treehugger” series, of which Treehugger: Wawona is the first chapter, serves the purpose of a digital archive of the natural world.