Carl Bärstad and Henrik Blennow first meet at a gathering in Stockholm March 2014 for the upcoming participatory art festival The Borderland 2014. Carl and Henrik had participated in the art festival on the island of Gotland 2013 where they had experienced that many of the participants were truly dedicated in playing rolls and taking on characters. At the gathering in Stockholm Carl and Henrik learnt that they both at times during the art festival did not want to play any roles or characters, nor did they want to be 'normal' and play the roles of their own selves, creating a feeling of being lonesome although surrounded by people alike. Thus for The Borderland 2014 they decided that they wanted to apply for a Borderland art grant supporting the idea of co-creating a retreat for the lonesome wanderer where she or he could rest, find peace, get out of character and find the means to connect, reconnect or simply be present.
The idea of creating a place for people to disconnect and reboot in order to reconnect constructively, had now taken root. The idea of an Avatar like soul tree emerged as the obvious meditative eye-catcher of this alternative. The intertwined roots of thetr.ee then grew and got nourished by the idea of co-creating an awe-inspiring retreat with mobilistic philosophy, rooted divine emptiness but also filled with some storytelling, aaadding a twist of totalistic philosophy. The stories that got woven into thetr.ee where that of a fairy theme due to its fairy like appearance and was developed further together with fellow Borderland participants. At the gathering in Stockholm March 2014, Jason Hill got inspired by thetr.ee and co-created the content with Henrik that later was used when applying for the grant. Luckily a grant was given to cover most of the costs and so the co-created process was initiated.
In the process Johan Bichel Lindegaard and Malin Bobeck got inspired by thetr.ee and started to co-create the technical solution and design. Johan, experienced in technical solutions for creative art installations, designed the light portal that was used as source to illuminate the fiber optic tails of the installation. The light portals - including PCB, LED solution and protecting case - where programmed to make thetr.ee come alive. Malin, experienced in working with fiber optics, designed the fiber optic tails creating an organic feel giving thetr.ee the etheric presence of a living being. Carl connected and inspired people to thetr.ee as well as coordinated the art project. Henrik formulated the content, laid out the philosophical roots and desined the setting including signs guiding the visitor. Johan produced all modules in Copenhagen assisted by Denya Blas, Anna Büchling, Jonas Stampe and Yann Houlberg Andersen. Carl made sure that the lasercut signs and covers for the light source were produced courtesy Makerspark Stockholm. Malin assisted by Carl produced the fiber optic tails. The whole group finally met up at The Borderland where everything was put together and displayed for one week.
thetr.ee at The Borderland inspired people in various ways. For instance, Yann Houlberg Andersen got inspired to take photos as can be showed under Fruits. Due to the positive feedback and a good gut feeling Carl and Henrik again met to discuss if it would be possible to go public with thetr.ee. As Carl was working with kids at Kids Hack Day the idea emerged of creating thetr.ee with kids. At this time Olle Bjerkås became involved and inspired by thetr.ee having already realised a project with kids in Gothenburg with Fraktalfabriken creating the largest Sierpinski pyramid (tetrix) in the world. The search or "Gardeners" and ”Treehuggers” eventually lead Henrik, situated in Hjo, to meet Olle Widén at Municipality of Hjo. By the end of 2014, the Municipality of Hjo decided to support a thetre.ee co-created with kids in Hjo for the public in Hjo, three times bigger in volume than thetr.ee at The Borderland. Concept, material and workshop was to be provided by Henrik under the umbrella of Kids Hack Day and in cooperation with Skapandeverkastan and Fredrika Johansson at the Municipality of Hjo.
thetr.ee in Hjo became an art project (i) focusing on the art of co-creating thertr.ee with kids providing an alternative activity to connect and an alternative way of learning. All with the intention to brake down technological and sociological boundaries, nourish a network of co-creation building a community and (ii) a one month public display near Hjo cultural quarter where Skapandeverkstan, the library, the tourist center and the local cinema is located providing an alternative for attracting and connecting people in Hjo.
Henrik prepared the art project by braking it down and prepare 5 workshops; soldering PCBs, making LED light sources, making fiber optic tails, preparing the waterproof cases and assembly of light portals and testing. For the soldering PCB workshop the design by Johan Bichel Lindegaard was used. For the other workshops Henrik had to redesign the technical solutions selecting other components where chosen to make it workshop friendlier. In the process another participator at Borderland 2014, Jakob Peterson, electrician, got involved in the design of the light portals and AC/DC converters making sure that the solutions became rugged and water proof. In total 30 to 40 locals from in Hjo also got involved such as Olle Johannesson, welding together a solution for cutting of fibre optics, and Khanh Trinh creating a monitor at thetr.ee for display of daytime visitors showing the process of creation and The Tree in Hjo at night time. For the later Sofia Sandberg, a student at the Crafts Centre of University (Folkuniversitetets Hantverkscentrum) in Tibro, contributed by painting the stone like display module.