Central city, Things to do  |  7 Aug 2019

“Wood” you talk to the trees in Cathedral Square if you could?

If you enjoy a trunk pun or prefer to branch out into tree-related jokes or learn about special city spots, then the city’s latest interactive installation will light up your life when it sparks into action later this month.

Supported by the Christchurch City Council’s Enliven Places programme, the “Talking Trees” concept in the Square’s Godley Reserve is the brainchild of local creative Tim Budgen.

Lighting up the city to make it a place for people is a key theme of the Central City Action Plan and these “talking” animated faces projected onto trees encourage people to stop and enjoy.

Mr Budgen, who is the Motion Design Team Leader at Ara, has created the light and sound installation, working with several Bachelor of Design students.

“The work has evolved from our video projection installation for Botanic D’Lights last year,” he says.

“Our earlier version was designed to entertain families with puns and ‘dad jokes’ as they moved through the Botanic Gardens.

“I have worked with our senior Motion Design students to produce the latest installation for Cathedral Square, utilising my background in animation for projection and live events.”

The “talking trees” will provide plenty of fun and jokes, along with information on popular central city places.

Council Head of Urban Design, Regeneration and Heritage Carolyn Ingles says the Talking Trees installation is a “clever but simple approach to interaction”.

“The installation provokes a laugh and a smile while also reminding its audience that there are some special spaces to visit in the central city,” Ms Ingles says.

“It encourages people to connect with the changing city environment.”

Meanwhile, the Gobo Lighting Trail will weave through the central city from early next month.

The gobos – small templates inside a projector – will shine down on footpaths from their lamp-post perches, projecting 10 striking designs that showcase some of the city’s most-treasured sites.

The designs have been selected from more than 120 entries, with the winners receiving a $100 central city voucher.

The competition theme was: “What I love about Christchurch”.

“The Gobo Trail features prominent city buildings, nature, people, poems, and a famous symbol of Christchurch’s recovery – traffic cones,” Ms Ingles says.