THE TREE WALKER - A balancing act between earth and sky
The Tree Walker is an artistic mission by Christoph Both-Asmus in collaboration with French scientific researchers. The artist’s own life experiences, curiosity and love for the poetic and nature influence his research and practice as he climbs the highest treetops of the rainforest. The Tree Walker will encapsulate the sublime of nature and the uniqueness of our existence. Both-Asmus will explore the canopy with a unique, custom-made balloon and his team will assist with artistic and scientific evaluation, which will help to support a local education centre.
THE POETIC VISION
Christoph Both-Asmus had once wanted to be a maker of nature films and an environmental advocate, but during his studies he turned to Fine Art. In his work he combines sculptural environments, installations and drawings with performance and video. His materials are mostly organic and often alive. Both-Asmus describes the film project The Tree Walker as a meditation on life and our connection to plants, most especially trees.
Christoph Both-Asmus' new work The Tree Walker will be produced as a film in which the viewer sees an ocean of leaves, the sky and the artist Christoph Both-Asmus who walks as a central motif, weightless above the highest and most fragile branches of the trees.
The romantic and poetic imagery of The Tree Walker will be enriched with the newest botanical research, exploring the connection and interplay between humans and the rainforest.
Inspired by his daydream, Christoph Both-Asmus knew immediately that he would realise the image of The Tree Walker cinematically. Since then he has been researching and experimenting with great success to advance his vision, first learning the art of rope access tree climbing, then developing other technical and artistic methods to solve the challenge of balancing on the thinnest branches of the canopy.
The first phase of The Tree Walker is a performative film piece, in which gravity is challenged both physically and aesthetically. Here Christoph Both-Asmus is concerned with weightlessness, levitation and the age-old dream of human flight. Challenging reason and perception, the artist wants to create the illusion of being able to escape gravity. In the development of the film Christoph Both-Asmus will corroborate the close relationship between man and nature. With this dialogue the artwork takes its place in the tradition of sublime aesthetics and in the canon of romance.
In the second phase the art project will be evaluated methodically. Scientific findings by renowned botanists will be connected with artistic and philosophical content.
In the third phase a local initiative in Gabon will be supported with the installation of a research and education program in this extraordinary place.
In the fourth phase the exhibition and making of the film will be developed. The final presentation of The Tree Walker film will be exhibited alongside display cabinets, sculpture, video documentation, interviews and the development process and the scientific collaboration.
All in the hope that The Tree Walker will awaken the senses and self-awareness of the audience, so as to enable them to look at the world from a completely different perspective. Altering our perception of the world can enrich us exponentially and most importantly increase our appreciation of ones environment.
THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FILM
In order to realize The Tree Walker, Christoph Both-Asmus will be working together with Dany Cleyet-Marrel, who is responsible for technical direction. Dany Cleyet-Marrel has developed aviation tools specifically for scientific and cinematic missions for over 30 years. His creations have been used in, for example, the BBC series Human Planet. He is also co-founder of 'Opération Canopée' where he studies canopy biodiversity with a team including the world-renowned botanist Francis Hallé.
WHY CENTRAL AFRICA?
Dany Cleyet-Marrel and Christoph Both-Asmus decided to shoot The Tree Walker in the Central African rainforest one of the few places in the world that still have primary rainforest. It is made of layers upon layers of plants, many hundreds of species. This rainforest meets some key criteria: The first three hours after sunrise are always calm (no wind), which is necessary for the use of the 'Canopy Bubble' (a helium balloon). The forest also grows denser there than in any other place in the world. This is of central importance for Christoph Both- Asmus’s plan to maneuver over the canopy.
THE CANOPY BUBBLE
Dany Cleyet-Marrel’s Canopy Bubble is a helium balloon designed to carry a person over the rainforest. The lift is regulated with the help of helium valves. With this technology the canopy bubble will make the artist as weightless as in his dream. Christoph Both-Asmus will be connected to the 'Canopy Bubble' with the help of 25m long ropes.
An education centre is planned in Akanda National Park, Gabon. Its hope is to engage the population in Libreville/Gabon and inform them of the importance and value of this unique rainforest. The biodiversity of the canopy plays a particularly important role, however most Gabonese think the rainforest is primitive. More and more people are drawn to the city and those who chose to remain in the forest are seen as archaic and conservative. The Gabonese want to be progressive – following the example of us westerner – but the forest embodies for them the opposite. The aim of the training centre is to change this perception and inspire the Gabonese to be attentive to their treasure and heritage. With the various content created as part of The Tree Walker we hope to help draw attention to local nature conservation causes.
Together with several highly accomplished partners The Tree Walker will portray the sublime in nature and in contrast the uniqueness of human existence.