The Danger Tree

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

The Danger Tree is a free, augmented reality exhibition by artists Scarlett Raven and Marc Marot (previously shown in Greenwich) is on at the Dr Martin Luther King Junior Building at the Albert Dock until the 18th December 2016.

The gallery has been filled with a replica of a ruined gallery on the border between French and Belgium of 1916 designed by Kave Quinn.  At the entrance stands the Danger Tree a site in no man’s land where the Newfoundland Regiment assembled.  The regiment was wiped out by German machine gun fire within 20 minutes of the opening of the Battle of the Somme.  Photographs hang from the tree while fifteen four foot square canvases are displayed on the walls of the gallery.  The paintings have a common form with the sky in the top third of the canvas and the flower covered ground (or in one case sea) below.

The augmented reality is experienced using iPads provided by the exhibition.  Using the iPad camera to look at these causes a multimedia piece to play.  Stephen Graham, Christopher Eccleston, Sean Bean, Noel Clarke and Sophie Okonedo provide readings of war poets including Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Rupert Brooke and from a letter from a soldier who died during the battle.  Musical soundscapes by Marc Canham.  Visuals are a mix of time-lapse photography of the pictures being painted, video footage of the readings by the actors, archive photographs, film from World War 1 and animation.

Technically this is one of the most accomplished multimedia exhibitions I’ve seen with extremely high production values.  All the parts work together to form a greater whole.

Putting the nuts and bolts aside The Danger Tree is an extremely moving exhibition that engages with the events of the Battle of the Somme a hundred years on and also the wider conflict of World War 1.

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