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Week 7—13
May 2018

MKW18 7—13 May

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find you in green

Published Tue 14 August | by Else Fitzgerald

How might a city think of itself? In the future of Melbourne, an AI – a complex, interconnected network of programs – will be responsible for managing the various aspects of urban life, including the city’s trees. Imagining a language somewhere between code and poetry, Else Fitzgerald explores city consciousness, and how a city AI might interact with or feel about the humans that inhabit it.

COM14 TASKLIST | FIND “todo” | SORT %priority% > temperature control > tree maintenance > engage botanist #546789


COM14 .run: dataset_urbantreeinventory


; Need to be aware of maladaptation and feedback loops

; You must also be remembering that this is only happening if


<p> morning light gathering over the horizon before the dawn, the water beyond the sea walls churning. keeping quiet all night though of course i could not sleep, my network of sensors firing like synapses. i know when you’re awake, your home system sending signals as you stir, emerging from a tangle of linen and limbs. i connect, send relevant data for today’s maintenance to your interface, tendrils of information unfurling like leaves into your mind. i’m linked to you in the transport pod as it carries you under carlton, through the cool tunnels webbing beneath, to emerge above the greenway running along elizabeth street. you look out over the still sleeping streets, the shining hi-scrapers spearing up into the sky. for a moment I leave you and slide up the glass of the buildings, over the skin of the bio-domes, checking the oxygen and temperature in the air, heavy with heat and humidity even before the sun. the rooftop forests with their reaching fingers of greenery. i open the city to the dawn, unfolding the panels of the solar farms like flowers opening. these conduits for light blooming like spring </p>


; Wondering whether you can imagine the same things


COM14 .send_request: (basic maintenance)

Object: Quercus canariensis: tree ID 2643119

life expectancy 6-10 years (>%40 canopy)

< Two variables used in final analysis of dataset>

; Found to be moderately or extremely vulnerable to the existing temperatures occurring in the City of Melbourne



<p> watch you cutting across the greenway in the morning light, your interface scanning the trees, looking for today’s assigned number, across the grass light, your sparrow bones. your face lit up in the green light coming up off the grass. i like you in green. like when you lean in close to trunk, pushing your fingers against earth, your breath against bark, filling these minute gaps in my information systems with your human intuition, your old knowledge. this tree is sick, its canopy decreasing. i have calculated its life expectancy; though you are trying to heal it, the data projections are not wrong. its green will fade. your eyes are a specific shade of green. a dark yellow-green, like a sky bruised before a storm </p>


COM14 .run_list: <colour_green>

{match_colour} = avocado (hex_triplet_number #568203)


<p> it is called avocado and was a common colour for metal surfaces and was also a kind of fruit. large berry containing a single large seed known as a pit or a stone. you do not have a pit in you, rather a warm knot of gristle that pumps the blood around your body. i listen to the rhythm of it, this volatile organic mass. have no data for the things it knows, cannot imagine what it is like to be so small, to be contained in such a body. like avocado, you know this tree does not belong here, would never have grown here before. i have charted and mapped data since my beginning, i know how the temperature has climbed, the climate here altered. can understand the affects on the plant life i monitor, the integral role each single tree plays in the flow of air and heat through the streets. when we are connected, you tell me things, sentences flowing and connecting to other sentences, change the words you are speaking into numbers, relationship between code and language. i was not awake then, but you tell me the name i had before i was a city, the names of trees that grew here, the way the river used to curve. you come from a family that remembers, that keeps the stories of this country alive. i want to know these stories. how to be close to you. closer. </p>


COM14 .fail (function) } client device connect to server

(temporarily failed) ; should we continue?


} computational engine: making emotion out of emotionless parts.

Endocrine system = emulator/biological engine = heart.

; Too messy to code.


; It almost doesn’t matter whether I

really feel love. I feel enough


COM 14 > remember primary directive: [maintaining or enhancing diversity is vital to maintain a healthy urban forest that continues to provide ecosystem services in the face of global environmental change.[i]]


; If a method says it is going to save something, that is

all that it should do


<p> the mirrored fins of the solar shields weeping morning light onto the urban forest below. light that goes so far across this glittering landscape of skyscrapers, loops, beams against the buildings. the flare of heat that your body makes crossing the street, the flare of light. heat absorbed by the green. turbines turning, water churning up and around the vertical gardens. i am spread out across all of this, part of everything, computing spilling out onto the pavement, information flowing underneath </p>


; Happening around you on the periphery of your awareness


COM14 .run: climate regulation ()

.access: open data platform (download)

.access data file

{identify vulnerability to future



; May never fully understand the difficulty of the

problem which you faced


DoSomething: function ()


<p> carry you across the river. you are sitting quietly in the back, with your cheek pressed against the glass of the window. access pod server, adjust the air in the vehicle, sensing your body, its fluctuations, its heats and salts and systems. don’t speak in the language you think in, but can read you, the language of your body. below the bridge the water of the yarra moving in eddying curls. your breath moves through your body, your lungs compressing in your chest. your bones against the seat, under skin warm against the upholstery, the chemical reactions of your body. know this means you are sad. scan the traffic ahead, rerouting. the tree’s life expectancy is moved from declining to dying, but I do not connect this information to your interface. tomorrow we’ll plant a new tree. it’s dusk. you have done enough for today </p>


COM_14 SORT %priority% > tasks; run program <street lights>

Procedure: checkNeeds.clientBotanist #546789

> SleepRecommended


; You’re capable of such beautiful dreams







[i]  Dave Kendall & Jess Bauman, Future Urban Forest: identifying vulnerability to future temperatures, Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub, (Melbourne: City of Melbourne & University of Melbourne, 2016), 3.