Forest filled with pines and electronics
‘All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace’, poem by Richard Brautigan, first published in 1967
Troika’s paintings titled Forest filled with Pines and Electronics present an alternative dramatization of adaptation to the screen, here questioning whether the forest itself can undergo such a process. Elaborating the representational logic of their previous series Irma Watched over by Machines, which was based on CCTV footage of damage inflicted by hurricanes, the present series reconstructs images of forest fires using only the sixteen shades of red, green and blue that form the basis of RAW digital images. Recognizing the increase in wildfire risk caused by climate change, as well as associated issues such as illegal logging, environmental monitoring systems have been put in place in many locations around the world. In the Internet of Trees, networked digital video cameras are attached directly to trees in order to detect early warnings of fire, at the same time rendering the cameras themselves vulnerable to flame. Woolsey Watched over by Machines captures one such moment of a wildfire that burned through Los Angeles County in 2018, and imagines how the forest looked to the machine in its last moments of digital vision.While such ‘Smart Forests’ embody the promise of adapting to climate change with the aid of technology, we are here invited to question the implications of screening environmental disaster.