Mechthild Schmidt Feist: Lalbagh TreeStory

Engaged Media ‘Lalbagh TreeStory’

Mechthild Schmidt Feist
[ United States ]

My series Engaged Media investigates the role of media in communicating environmental awareness and action. I hope to inspire local solutions to the climate crisis and make a difference by the sum of our individual actions.

This project grew from research as a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar 2019-20 at the Srishti College of Art  +Design in Bangalore. I explored existing ecological art or social projects- along with local needs and solutions with botanists, artists and students. The seemingly undervalued ecological, cultural and medicinal benefits of trees versus the need for public transportation resulted in my Google Earth installation.  My extensive photographic excursions resulted in mapped images, layered texts and attached links that are elements of the interactive exploration on Google Earth. I hope to show the interdependence of flora, fauna and humans –  the main theme of the final installation.

Thousands of flowering avenue trees in the south-Indian city of Bangalore create cooling microclimates. Despite citizen protests, almost 1000 of these trees were felled for the new metro.  ‘Lalbagh TreeStory’ is an installation inside Google Earth. I imagine replanting of trees along a new metro line: protected trees from the neighboring Lalbagh Botanical Garden send their seeds and wisdom to the now denuded avenues.

“So the magnificent trees in the park decided to spread seeds and seedlings and knowledge about their edible fruit and medicinal talents to the sites of their suffering tree-sisters and started to re-green the road along the elevated train. They bring with them tales about their global histories and religious worship.” (tree voice)

In the Google earth installation, the viewer descends through word clouds of quotations down to Bangalore’s Lalbagh Gardens to explore the beauty and multiple purposes of the trees.  The history line shows the past de-greening. Text links Lalbagh trees to images of trees and blooms newly planted. Attached to the images are links and text informing about origins, uses for animals or humans, about medicinal and cultural backgrounds – a sample of the interdependence of all nature.

India research blog:

  • Medium: Interactive-online on Google Earth
  • Year Produced: 2020, 2021

Instructions to explore the project in Google Earth

Mechthild Schmidt Feist

New York University, School of Professional Studies

Mechthild Schmidt Feist is a media artist and faculty at New York University. Her series Engaged Media investigates the role of media in advocating environmental awareness and action. Mechthild’s work ranges from interactive installations (‘L.E.S.S. – Less of Everything, Esthetics of Sharing and Sustainability’) to public works (bicycle projection for COP21: ‘COP-cycle’) to interactive storytelling on Google Earth. As a Fulbright Senior Scholar to Bangalore, India in 2020, her latest mapping work is ‘Lalbagh TreeStory’. She hopes her work inspires local solutions to the climate crisis and make a difference by the sum of our individual actions.

Artist’s Website: