The Arbornauts is an interdisciplinary and collaborative art project by Amanda White, Lydia Burggraaf, and Meghan Krauss. The Arbornauts project features public performances of tree climbing, aimed at re-imagining how urban inhabitants engage with the public spaces of city parks. Public city parks exist in the liminal space between nature (where humans are not) and the city (a place filled with humans).
Existing between the unknown and the obvious, the urban tree canopy thus becomes the site of The Arbornauts’ imaginary missions. On Paper the ‘official’ objective of the Arbornauts is to venture into the frontier of the urban canopy, and (recalling the mesmerizing early space expeditions of NASA) to retrieve valuable geophysical information with the hope of enabling future generations to homestead there. The Arbornauts collect data, images and documentary footage from these climbs, and present our findings in exhibitions, online, and in public presentations of the project.
The Arbornauts use uniforms and “professional” equipment during climbing expeditions, attracting confused attention from bypassers, and we hope that they project themselves into our places, reconsider their surroundings, and question the normative behavior of adults. In addition to forging a relationship between urbanites and their “natural” surroundings, The Arbornauts are also playing with the transgression of social standards; not only adults playing in trees but also women taking on the role of explorer.