Monday, January 26, 2015

Art and Science Majors Collaborate to Save Joshua Tree

Joshua trees once flourished all over Southwestern America but now the tree is only found in California's Joshua Tree National Park and small areas of Utah, Nevada and Arizona.  As deserts become hotter and drier, seed-spreading is dependent on rats which can't spread it fast enough to keep up with climate change.

A dying Joshua tree at Joshua Tree National Park. Photo by Richard Lui, The Desert Sun

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported an exciting collaboration between digital art, environmental studies, science and engineering students to address these pressing issues:

To save the Joshua tree, a desert plant in peril, UC Santa Cruz art research associate Geoffrey Thomas imagines a future with seed-spreading tarantula robots and genetically-engineered giant sloths. 

These whimsical ideas, the subject of three digital art images, have a ring of truth, said Thomas, who collaborated with Juniper Harrower, a UCSC environmental studies graduate student studying the tree. The duo is planning to create an educational mobile app and short animations from the sketches within the next year.

UCSC students in Geoffrey Thomas's digital art class inspect Joshua tree seedlings at a campus greenhouse in October.

Art and technology have powerful influences on impacting change because they are big parts of any culture around the world.  Incorporating digital art, mobile apps and environmental education is a great way to foster a culture for change and further the sustainability of our ecosystems.

Read the original article here.

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