Autonomous Trees are living trees with enhanced agency and abilities, assisted by systems developed and operated by Krzysztof Wronski. Through prototypes and real-world interventions, trees are equipped with capabilities that primarily serve them and challenge relations between people and living systems struggling with the climate emergency.
Autonomous Trees are living trees with enhanced agency and abilities, assisted by systems developed and operated by Krzysztof Wronski. Through prototypes and real-world interventions, trees are equipped with capabilities that primarily serve them and challenge relations between people and living systems struggling with the climate emergency. A tree is presented as an authority figure serving the interests of non-humans. Physical symbolic artefacts and devices associated with human authority are installed on and around a local tree selected as a temporary agent. These represent industrial components utilised on autonomous vehicles and security apparatus. Visitors, subjected to the tree’s authority, can interact with the tree by accessing an arboreal chat-bot on their phone. The chat-bot enables a conversation between human and tree—during which visitors hear the tree’s perspective and receive an assessment and fine as punishment for the collective harm they cause to living systems.
Increasingly, political leaders are considering securitization as a strategy to increase climate action, aiming to make climate change a UN Security Council priority. This project serves to reflect on the notion of securitzation applied to environmental interests while promoting the potential of political action. The Autonomous Tree project is centred around the well-being and needs of a living tree and draws attention toward potential futures where living non-humans have increased agency, authority, and priority in human systems of governance, economics, and innovation.
What would the world be like if we gave all species the attention we give ourselves (while recognising that our systems are biased to serve certain people more than others)? While the living tree plays as the dominant character in the project, the developed systems and supports that will enable them to gain increased social capacity will captivate people into an alternative present in which a tree has gained obvious power. A mixture of devices, software, and custom engineered equipment repurposed from commercial and military applications are married to the tree (uninvasively) together with symbolic artefacts and personnel that provide the tree with enhanced social status and protection.
Through participatory workshops, discussions, and real-world interventions, Wronski engages a broad audience in awareness of the gravity of existing and future IPCC reports on anthropogenic climate change and contribute toward a shift in values in which business and political leaders become more open to non-financial and more long-term measures of success and goal-setting. The overall project presents an opportunity to reframe the notion that design and technology serve primarily to create utility for people, responds critically to human-centricity, and elevates the needs and welfare of trees as an example of non-human living beings that are essential to balance within Earth’s ecosystems—promoting climate solidarity with all life.