Blue will speak for the trees
June 7, 2012 2:02 PM   Subscribe

Blue trees are to be seen in cities around the world, a colorful plea to save the trees. posted by stbalbach (27 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Looks like the Seattle trees were done last month. If the blue hasn't washed off already, today's rain should do it :(
posted by b1tr0t at 2:21 PM on June 7, 2012

One of my coworkers asked me about the blue trees in Westlake Park last month and all I could manage was, "It's art," which sounded so obvious that I immediately wished I hadn't answered.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:23 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I know the artist intended for the trees to stick out unnaturally with the blue (to draw attention to them), but it's almost like a real life bad photoshop. It actually makes my eyes hurt to look at the photographs. Are they any kinder in person?
posted by Atreides at 2:52 PM on June 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

real life bad photoshop

If only we can figure out a way to hang artificial lens flare...
posted by iamck at 3:00 PM on June 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

I had the same feeling, Atreides. I think it's cool in concept, but it's translating almost painfully to photographs. I think I might be less in favor of trees than I was before.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:13 PM on June 7, 2012

I'm not so sure that a copper based compound is completely harmless to plants. Also I think that people might just start using a blue paint if this became a thing and that might not be so helpful. In conclusion don't fuck with the trees, thanks.
posted by humanfont at 3:21 PM on June 7, 2012 [8 favorites]

Raise awareness about fucking with the trees... by fucking with the trees.
posted by b1tr0t at 3:29 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

From the cherry blossoms to the evergreens, trees are part of the aesthetic in Seattle; we take their presence for granted...

Norman Gunderson, who lives in Lower Queen Anne, spent Monday, his first day of retirement, helping color the trees at Westlake. He read about the art project on a Seattle bike blog and decided to get involved.

"They say you got to go out and be active," Gunderson said. "I like the idea of this odd color bringing attention to the trees in the urban environment."

I don't get it... Deforestation is taking away trees in civic parks and along civic boulevards?
posted by KokuRyu at 3:35 PM on June 7, 2012

I'm pretty sure that first image actually IS a bad Photoshop job.

This article refers to it as an "artist's impression" of a proposal that ended up being blocked.
posted by PJMcPrettypants at 4:01 PM on June 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm pretty sure that first image actually IS a bad Photoshop job.

My first thought too. My second thought was that I'm sad that the psychadelic blue trees won't come to my city already has kick ass tree advocates.
posted by Panjandrum at 4:24 PM on June 7, 2012

KokuRyu: I don't get it... Deforestation is taking away trees in civic parks and along civic boulevards?

If a vivid blue forest of trees is cleared but no one sees them, does anyone care? Deforestation happens where most people don't see, so making ubiquitous city trees more notable makes people think about trees in general, and possibly ask about the trees turning blue, which could lead to discussions of deforestation on the global level.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:43 PM on June 7, 2012

Well, just think of it as an unusual art install. You don't have to care about trees. They are just blue trees. Like red gates. Or whatever. Most likely the civic duty thing was tacked on to get council members to agree to allow someone from New Zealand to paint their trees blue. He's an artist. He paints trees blue. It creates reactions. Some deep minded marketing person probably thought "hey, let's make this into a campaign to make people aware of trees". The poor artist agreed because it meant he could paint more trees blue, which is all he wanted to do. He's been making things similar to this for years that have nothing to do with saving anything.
posted by stbalbach at 5:32 PM on June 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

I suppose, but the response of the retiree indicates to me that even the people participating in the project don't quite get what it's about.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:32 PM on June 7, 2012

In Mexico we have Jacarandas, a tree that is covered in lavender blossoms around January...

They're so beautiful they've been planting them everywhere for a long time....

Problem seems to me, which is why something like this project might seem necessary,
is that it seems to say that you have to wake up "Americans" to natural beauty...which, given everything, may well be true. For me, it seems like throwing oars at a sinking ship.
posted by eggtooth at 5:54 PM on June 7, 2012

I live in one of the many American "Tree Cities". Painting urban trees blue seems a long way from "natural beauty".
posted by maryr at 6:19 PM on June 7, 2012

I grew up in a Tree City, and I think this looks really cool!
posted by limeonaire at 6:22 PM on June 7, 2012

The first "blue trees" link is the MCG parklands in Melbourne. I am pretty much 100 percent sure that this event did not happen, I definitely would have heard about it.

But more fundamentally, if anyone thinks that painting some urban landscaping blue for a short time will do the smallest thing towards reducing global deforestation (which has basically entirely stopped in Victoria, Australia) they truly have their head up their arse.
posted by wilful at 6:51 PM on June 7, 2012

People - well, MeFi posters, distantly related to real people - certainly have problems with blue trees. Didn't you read Dr. Seuss when you were a tiny version of your present-day self?
posted by kozad at 7:16 PM on June 7, 2012

There used to be a great chemical waste safety page that listed things on two axis - in terms of human health hazard and environmental hazard. As an environmental hazard, copper took lead out behind the barn and kicked it's lily white ass (and then killed a bunch of fish just to impress Jodie Foster).

There are probably some great ways to get people thinking about environmental stewardship, but hosing a bunch of trees down with a copper salt seems like a really bad idea.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:33 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

In that case, I volunteer to update this thread with pictures when the now-blue trees in Westlake Park all die.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:41 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Materials data safety sheet for Azurite.


Environmental Fate When released into the soil, this material is not expected to biodegrade. When released into water, this material is not expected to biodegrade. When released into water, this material is not expected to evaporate significantly.

Copper carbonate aka azurite is used as an aquatic weed killer and fungicide.
posted by humanfont at 8:07 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well it's an ironic artistic statement then, innit? I killed your trees, just like the trees of the world are dying!
posted by wilful at 8:54 PM on June 7, 2012

Eh... You have to take MSDS pages with a grain of, excuse the expression, salt. They tend to be a bit breathless. There's very little between "completely harmless" and "DANGER DANGER!" in them.
posted by maryr at 9:41 PM on June 7, 2012

Urban forests are important, and Seattle is (or used to be) pretty serious about its forest management plan (giant pdf).

I found a couple comments from Tina Hoggatt, the press manager of 4Culture, the King County Cultural Services blog, that indicated the Seattle Times article misidentified the paint as azurite. She quoted a statement from the artist and Seattle Parks as saying “The ultramarine blue color used by Konstantin Dimopoulos for The Blue Trees is biologically and environmentally safe. It is a water-based colorant, not paint, and does not contain chemical binding agents or azurite. Rather, it is a manmade pigment roughly equivalent to the ancient blue stone. It was specifically developed for the project and has been utilized in multiple installations without causing damage to the trees or the surrounding environment.”

I think "roughly equivalent to the ancient blue stone" means "kind of the same blue". A quick search suggests finely ground azurite (pigment) starts at $135 and goes up to $250 for 100g - it's hard for me to imagine that it's an economically practical choice for painting tree trunks, at least not in quantities likely to have significant environmental impact.
posted by gingerest at 12:39 AM on June 8, 2012

All I can manage for that is a facepalm.
posted by caclwmr4 at 1:08 AM on June 8, 2012

I wonder who along the way made the "Did we say plutonium? We meant cellophane." mistake.

MSDS pages, warning labels and California Proposition 65 are all really good at encouraging breathless paranoia, but usually less handy if your looking at a bottle and wondering if you can just dump it down the drain or if its contents will kill you.

I want a law where, if your labeling doesn't let me know that sodium chloride and beach sand are less dangerous that chromium IV oxide and ethidium bromide then I get to kick you in the groin as hard as I can!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:31 AM on June 8, 2012

It's not as "bad photoshop" in person. So far, I would have thought the trees in the Westlake location would have faded more by now. The blue does not seem to have diminished at all. Except for the one tree that some guy licked for a really long time.
posted by purple_bird at 10:55 AM on June 8, 2012

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