About This Project

“We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot.”
Leonardo da Vinci (circa 1500’s)

Trees, whether the tenacious street trees or mighty forest redwoods, are vital to life on earth.

This perception-shifting installation quite literally shines a light on humble root systems – which some say are the true, slowly beating heart of trees – and puts them centre stage. This normally unseen, overlooked anchor of the ecosystem makes the world underfoot a poignant setting to encounter stories and questions about human’s relationship with nature.


Underfoot is a work in progress. I have been developing it since Autumn 2020 in collaboration with interactive designer Benji Bailes, with sound by Lex Kosanke. It is an intimate experience with vast possibilities. We are currently working to bring it to a bigger audience.

The public were first invited to step ‘beneath the forest’ to experience a version of this installation at the E17 Art Trail, July 2021. Initial immersion in darkness and noise cancelling headphones helped disorientate the senses and bring the wonder of the underground to a 3x3m space.
The solo ‘performance’ lasted approximately 6 minutes. It put Bailes + Light’s new interactive sensing technology, OSCHII, to the test and enabled participants to set their own path.


What visitors underfoot said:

‘The roots, and the music and the interactive nature of the exhibit, inciting you to think and dance and reflect and wonder.’

‘Utterly absorbing. Unique.’

Getting to be somewhere there’s no other possible way to be’


Reading and research:

Hidden Life of Trees – What They Feel, How They Communicate: Discoveries from a Secret World (2017) by Peter Wohllenben. William Collins

Mushroom at the end of the World – on the possibility of life in capitalist ruins (2015) by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing. Princeton University Press

Understanding Roots (2015) by Robert Kourik. Metamorphic Press

Art, Environment
art, audio visual, environment, STEAM