Virtual Harvest is an artwork sited on the exterior of the Coleman Highline P4 Parking Structure, Santa Clara, CA. The project symbolically conjures an ancestral pear orchard of the Santa Clara Valley as a dialog between living and technological forms. The artwork has two primary elements in conversation: a living, fruitless, pear tree sited in front of a large, vertical, optical panel containing a virtual image of a pear tree bearing fruit against a virtual sky, a dialog that segues the site's agricultural history with that of contemporary Silicon Valley.
The site of the structure is part of the agricultural history of Santa Clara Valley, known during the 19th and 20th centuries for its bountiful fruit orchards. A map from 1870 indicates a pear orchard in the proximity of the parking garage site. For Virtual Harvest, a living pear tree is planted in its youth out from the garage structure with expectation to grow and become mature within its natural biological cycle. On the garage behind this tree is an image of the top of a virtual, fruit-bearing pear tree and encompassing sky, the tree image is placed at height the pear genus optimally grows. The living pear tree is created by a biological and organic system, the virtual tree and sky are created by a computational and illusionistic system. The dynamic surface of the computer-based imaging system, used for the virtual pear tree and sky, morphs with changing light and view angles. This luminosity and optical phenomena becomes a systemic and environmental analog for the growth, respiration and seasonal variation of the living pear tree. As a component of a theoretical orchard: a fruitless, living pear tree grows inspired by its idealized apparition, one bearing eternal fruit.
John Roloff, artist, 2020