Monday, October 12, 2009

About the box: Nina Simon takes us into the Trees

Curator's Note: As part of extending the "Looking for Loci" exhibit, I'm gathering additional stories from participants, and putting them online. Nina Simon is a museum experience developer and force behind Museum 2.0. Call 1-641-715-3900, ext. 74622# for an audio tour of her diorama.

nina simon, sf mobile museum, san francisco mobile museum, maria mortati
Looking for Loci, by Nina Simon
Genius Loci: Tree House

I've always been obsessed with treehouses. In 2007, we moved off the grid in the Santa Cruz mountains from Washington DC. After much bushwhacking and deliberation, we found a redwood on the edge of our property with huge spiraling branches and incredible ocean views. It took five months to build a simple plywood platform 80 feet up in the tree. The tree platform is a magical expression of the risk and reward of living this crazy, creative rural life.

I've always dreamed of living in one - the more fantastical, the better. When my partner and I got married, we decided to get tattoos of treehouses instead of rings to mark our commitment. To me, they symbolize both imagination and rootedness, the beauty of nature and the power of human engineering. Ours is very humble (a platform, really), and this diorama shows the partial view from the platform. I'd like to believe we will build more but that first effort was so time-consuming that I think it will be several years before we have an Ewok village in the sky.

I've played with voicemail boxes as a simple audio device for exhibits before. In this case, I thought some people might stay on the line to answer the question I ask at the end ("What is that place for you?") but the question is pretty heady and goes by quickly, which I think disincentivizes answering. It sounds too rhetorical and last minute. And so instead of answers, I get a bunch of hang-ups after a few seconds. Those are nice too - I get to hear a bit of what's going on at that particular exhibit event, and it's like being transported into a social world where this little box I made months ago lives on.

Visitors sharing a cell phone listen to Nina's audio tour of her treehouse:

san francisco mobile museum, sf mobile museum, denver community museum, nina simon, maria mortati
PS: if you're a treehouse design fan, this simple google search [as of this posting] finds some amazing resources of all types, and some fab designs:

However, if you're looking for the magical possibilities that a treehouse can bring, then we'll leave that to your imagination, ingenuity, and choice of tree.

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