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"The HTMLgardeness - Sowing HTML but Harvesting AI (London Plane Tree)", 2024, Excerpt of gif animation

BY & WITH URSULA ENDLICHER

I'm walking through nature like through a website, looking for possible links, obvious or hidden, trying to open them, to uncover further narratives, secrets, or messages. I do the same when walking through the city. There I am mostly looking for trees, trees with character, hoping to discover a potential "Easter Egg" (*) in its bark, wondering what might be revealed here?

This is where the HTMLgardeness comes in: she inhabits these special trees; their bark contains "portals" that offer access to the HTMLgardeness' AR world.

The HTMLgardeness

The HTMLGardeness - Sowing HTML but Harvesting AI is an Augmented Reality experience that uses trees as entry points and trigger. It is an animation series that reveals itself by scanning the bark of trees (="natural QR-Code") with an AR App.

"The HTMLgardeness - Sowing HTML but Harvesting AI", 2023, On Governors Island ("Easter Eggs" on bark of Horse Chestnut and on Ginkgo revealed...)

This piece started to take shape last fall on Governors Island, during an exhibition at Harvestworks (where I showed work that already included the HTMLgardeness, but in a more marginal role) and where I gave "Walks&Talks" through tree-related works.

The HTMLgardeness had its first official initiation in January at The Active Space. On that occasion, I performed the "map" of the current HTMLgardeness' tree locations - revealing the trees that she inhabits - while also offering tree-specific snacks and drinks to the audience.



A 10 min documentation of the performance from (a freezing cold) January 20, 2024 at the Active Space. (Performance was 21 min long in total)

While the "performative" map was presented just for that evening inside the gallery, the "real" piece remained - and remains - outside, on the streets...

"Ursula Endlicher's AR performance environment reveals digital secrets hidden in the natural world beyond the gallery walls."

Excerpt of announcement for the event in Tussle Magazine.

The HTMLgardeness has been sowing HTML but has to fend off AI generated harvest now!

Tapping into my own narratives about nature and technology, this work introduces the character of the HTMLGardeness - a character played by myself (which i often do in my work) - who is the "protector" of the Web (of previous versions? of open, transparent, and experimental, fictitious, new versions?). In this role she is sowing HTML trying to keep a decipherable, caring and distributed web growing but has to battle continuous AI generated fruit and seeds which take over her harvest...

The network of tree roots as a "natural" communication network supports the exchange of beneficial nutrients between trees and shares information on how to fight off attackers and diseases. The network a visitor taps into via the "natural QR code" of the tree bark unfolds the world of the HTMLgardeness' web in a playful way...

The Active Space

The unique event "On the Edge of Infinity Part III" at the Active Space Gallery on Jan.20, 2024 featured photography, performance, sculpture, and sound art by yours truly, Sandra Hamburg, Caroline Voagen Nelson, and Testu Collective.
Curated by Laura Horne, Steven Pestana, and Sophia Sobers

Thanks everyone for coming out!

Going forward

New events, tours and new trees that the HTMLgardeness inhabits, will be announced soon! Stay tuned!

* Easter Egg: referring to a secret feature placed inside a video game, website, or program.
** AR App: Download the Overly App for Apple iOS / Android (I am using this app right now as it is built upom a really great visual algorithm for recognizing image markers - bark on trees is not an easy recognizable trigger!)