The Tree Whispers Rosendale
an installation by Mark Bernard     at Willow Kiln Park in Rosendale, NY     from September to October 2009

The Tree Whispers Rosendale

"The Tree Whispers Rosendale" is an interactive art installation located in Willow Kiln Park in Rosendale, NY. The piece intends to both surprise and inform unsuspecting park visitors, using its pleading demeanor and a relentlessly spewed dissertation on the natural and human history of the area.
Directions to the Installation

The work is located in Rosendale's Willow Kiln Park.

You can use the Google map and directions or just drive into the center of Rosendale, go into the municiple parking lot behind the theater, and go all the way to the back of the lot. The park is full of willow trees and old cement kilns, so you can't miss it.

Artist's Statement
(The statement was based on the location of the piece's first incarnation,
The Tree Whisper's Hudson, installed in Kingston Point Rotary Park
for the 2009 Sculpture Biennial)

The theme of the 2009 Sculpture Biennial challenged my usual direction of integrating of computer technology into my art. How could I reconcile using electronic equipment in a natural environment, when the theme is "Go Green and Keep the Hudson Clean?"

As a culture, we are perpetually distracted by technology, I believe to an obsessive level. I'm beginning to feel that contemporary technology is almost specifically designed to pull us away from our connection to our natural environment, and from our bond with our friends and community. Computers and the internet keep us inside our homes, rather than physically interacting with our friends and nature. Even when we leave the house, cell phones keep us from being present and connected when we're outside in the world.

I sought to completely hide the technology, and generally downplay its presence. I did not want any equipment to become the focus of the piece. Rather, technology would be employed to instill a certain intelligence and soul into a piece of wood. This would hopefully keep the audience's attention on the beauty of the Hudson River and its surrounding natural setting. In using a computer to facilitate a broadening of a human being's attention to their environment, I intend to suggest that it is not the technology that is at fault here, but rather our preoccupation and escapist tendencies that have placed a wedge between ourselves and our natural and social environments.

Developing the piece took approximately 250 hours of labor and $1,500 in materials. About 75% of the work and expense came from the need to run independently of the electrical grid, which was not the original intention. The system goes into low power mode during the day when no one is near, and completely powers down at night. In the morning when the sun rises, light hitting the solar panel tells the system to power back up.
About the Artist

Mark Bernard is a computer and mechanical engineer living in Rosendale, NY, just south of Kingston. He has worked on numerous art and commercial projects since he was 17. Mark created a system that interprets a pianist's playing and in turn plays accompaniment on two other player pianos. He developed industrial robots that built and tuned Woodstock Percussion wind chimes, and has offered technical services to many area artists since the early 80s. Mark collaborated with artist Carolyn Lambert for the 2005 Kingston Sculpture Biennial, creating the surrealistic video surveillance installation The Camera Had a Nervous Twitch.

Thanks to the inspiration and assistance of Cary Kittner, Amie Worley, Stefan Lisowski, Louie Torchio, Tanessa Hartwig, Carolyn Lambert, Jay Hogan, Historian Ed Ford, Patrick Wadden and Arm-of-the-Sea Theater, the City of Kingston, Lisa Carpinelli, Cory Spitzer, Caegan Quimby and Emily, Dan Feldman, Adam Widoff, Chris Bernard, and of course, the Art Society of Kingston and curator Meagan Gallagher.

Conceptual drawing for 'The Tree Whispers Hudson'
An early conceptual drawing. Click here for a PDF of the original proposal.

Thank you,