Who can resist hugging a tree?! Trees have enormous power, but are also vulnerable to human action; when hugged in public they can become powerful symbols for environmental activism. This interactive installation / performance work is aimed at promoting human protection of forests by fostering a bond between urban dwellers and the natural environment.

Participants hug a tree which is wired up to sense the hug; this triggers the transmission of a video loop of their hug to an interactive collage superimposed on real-time footage of the tree, displayed online as well as in galleries. Participants can interact further by positioning their video loop on one of the tree’s branches, becoming leaves of a collective experience in a video loop hugs gallery, and part of a globally shared embrace of nature.

For ISEA2013, Hug@ree expands into Australasia with a new node, inviting passersby and visitors to hug a tree in a public space in urban Sydney. The resulting digital, online gallery will combine the hugs of participants in Sydney with those from other Hug@ree nodes around the world.

hug@ree will be installed by one of the gumtrees located immediately outside of the conference venue for the duration of the conference: so come and hug a tree at ISEA 2013 and join the collective hug from Sydney!’


Mónica Mendes is a Digital Media artist, designer, and Multimedia Art professor at the University of Lisbon, and also an associate researcher at CIEBA and a founding member of altLab.

Pedro Ângelo is a PhD student in Digital Media, founder of Audiência Zero’s LCD medialab, and an independent technical research consultant for creative projects.

Nuno Correia is a professor at the New University of Lisbon (Computer Science Department, Faculty of Sciences and Technology). He is the coordinator of IMG (Interactive Multimedia Group), a research group of CITI/FCT/UNL.

Interested in designing for a better world, the ARTiVIS team (which includes Mendes, Ângelo and Correia) believe that an exploratory approach can be a catalyst for change in cultural, social, and natural sciences. They work at the intersection of Art, Science and Technology, creating interactive installations to promote constructive exploration of the destructive dynamics of climate change and to facilitate engagement with environmental sustainability.