Oscar Santillán – TREELEMMA

Exhibition at DICTU, commissioned by Atelier Rijksbouwmeester

  • Oscar Santillán

Commissioned by the Rijksbouwmeester (Chief Government Architect), Nest will present six solo exhibitions in the DICTU building over the next four years. From 2023, these exhibitions will be presented in the fully glass-walled courtyard of building of DICTU, one of the largest IT service implementation organizations within the Dutch government

Every eight months, a curator, in agreement with the employees of DICTU, invites an artist to develop new work for this one-of-a-kind location. The indoor garden is not publicly accessible to visitors, but since the space’s housing is entirely made of glass, it is possible visible from the outside day and night.

The indoor garden can be found on a peculiar place in the city of The Hague. The green oasis is surrounded by asphalt and concrete. Even underneath the building, cars pass by over the A12 motorway. A stones throw away from The Hague’s central train station, the bridge-like building is surrounded by ministries and office high rises. This environment turns the garden into an absurdist work of art in itself. Within the art program, ways are sought in which this isolated piece of artificial nature can be elevated or emphasized through the interventions of artists.

#1 Oscar Santillán – TREELEMMA

The first artist in this program is Oscar Santillán. Together with a group of artists working with a wide set of technologies, including blockchain, A.I. and various programming languages, Santillán developed TREELEMMA. This artwork links the global climate crisis with the exploding potential of new technologies.

Each time a forest fire rages somewhere on earth, this event is registered by satellites. The satellites then send their data to a pre-trained A.I. system with instructions to write a poem for the dying forest. These poems are translated into digital animations, that are displayed in real time on screens that have been installed in the indoor garden. Every new poem that emerges means there is a new forest fire, somewhere on earth.

Each animated poem will be converted into an NFT (a unique digital asset hosted on the blockchain). Since this kind of technology cannot be arbitrarily erased, each poem commemorating a forest fire is recorded as a permanent obituary. Each NFT containes a unique A.I.-generated poem and the location and date of the fire will be publicly accessible through the metadata of the NFT.

The TREELEMMA series currently runs all the way through 2023, turning the project into a calendar of our ongoing climate crisis.

Oscar Santillán’s TREELEMMA exhibition is the first in a series of six solo presentations in the indoor garden of DICTU and is curated by Daphne Verberg. The exhibitions are the result of a collaboration between the Atelier Rijksbouwmeester and Nest.

Note: this exhibition does not take place at Nest, but at Dienst ICT Uitvoering (DICTU) in The Hague. DICTU is located at Juliana van Stolberglaan 10 in The Hague, but is unfortunately not open to the public.