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Artificial Arboretum – Preservation of “photogrammetrees” found in Google Earth

Artificial Arboretum‘ by Jacqueline Wu is a project exploring the preservation, study, and public display of “photogrammetrees” found in Google Earth. The collection includes a range of diverse species harvested from their rendered world using the same tools and techniques that created them. 

These trees—for all their wonderful deformities—are endangered by the speed and vision of urban development and technological progress. Their data lives under the mercy and politics of each software update, and in a society that strives for pixel-perfect digital commodities, these photogrammetrees will soon be phased out for ones indistinguishable from reality. 

Jacqueline Wu


The collection serves as a living record of our planet, like tectonic plates frozen at disparate moments in time and resolution depending on when their images were taken. The scans capture not only the geometry of the trees, but also their age, seasons, shadows, and surrounding environments. As residual artifacts in a process meant to map buildings and infrastructure in our urban environments, they remind us that organic matter remains elusive to the virtual world.

Themes “biomes” within a speculative park

The core of the project is the research, responsible for classifying the trees and identifying methods of preservation of storage. Once extracted, they are reconstructed physically (poster, 3d print), and their native digital characteristics are catalogued according to geolocation, access date, file size, texture maps, and mesh data. Second step of the process includes what Jacqueline refers to as “Arboretum”, themes “biomes” within a speculative park (right image) that include the “Grove of Gravitational Defiance”, the “Forest of False Positives”, and the “Island of Inconsistent Existences”. Finally, also included is a “Open Source Training Manual”, a step-by-step guide to the technical process of extraction (bottom image).

Project Page | WIP Website | Jacqueline Wu | Designed Realities Studio

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