Wild Empathy is a research and art project exploring old-growth trees and ancient forests. The team creates immersive media art experiences that raise awareness about the unique features of our local forests. We use rich media techniques and methods—VR, 360 photography, 360 immersive video, animation, immersive sound—to create experiences that people can interact with to better understand the liveliness of old trees and to appreciate their significance.

With gratitude, we acknowledge we are working and creating on the unceded traditional and ancestral territories of the Coast Salish, Nuu chah nulth, and Kwakiutl peoples.

360 images from a walk near the Baden Powell Trail on səl̓ilwətaɁɬ təməxʷ (Tsleil-Waututh), Skwxwú7mesh-ulh Temíx̱w (Squamish), S’ólh Téméxw (Stó:lō), and šxʷməθkʷəy̓əmaɁɬ təməxʷ (Musqueam) territories. A map with more images of forests and trees can be viewed on the Forest Sentients page.

British Columbia (BC) is known for its wilderness and lush green forests. Our intact forests with old-growth trees play a crucial part in the province’s natural ecologies, and they contribute to the health of the planet. Old trees take in vast amounts of carbon from the atmosphere because of their growth rate that accelerates with age, they contribute rich sites of biodiversity unlike newer trees, and they function as crucial hubs in the below ground networked mycorrhizal activities of the forest. However, extensive and unsustainable logging practices in our province, plus human development and climate change have reduced our wild spaces, and now threaten the future of intact forests and old-growth trees. Once all the ancient trees are cut down, they will be gone forever.

The majority of city residents will never experience being in an old growth forest, and they may be unaware of the complexity of these interconnected ecosystems, even as their crucial value to climate change reversal becomes evidenced. The Wild Empathy project aims to raise awareness about the unique features of local old growth forests, leading to a sense of wonder and care for their protection.

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Supported by:  
– 2018-ongoing, Basically Good Media Lab, Emily Carr University of Art + Design
Emily Carr University of Art + Design
– 2021, President’s Research Fund. Emily Carr University
– 2020, Decolonization and Indigenization Fund, Emily Carr University
– 2020, Curriculum Benefits Fund, Emily Carr University
– 2019, Individual Connection Grant, The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
– 2019, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Institutional Exchange Grant, Emily Carr University
– 2019 Gillespie Design Research Grant, Emily Carr University
– 2018 Gillespie Design Research Grant, Emily Carr University

jandreye @ ecuad.ca