RAINFOREST: An Immersive Experience
The United Nation’s World Environment Day (June 1-5, 2005 - San Francisco)

United Nations
World Environment Day HQ

50 U.N. Plaza, Suite 102
San Francisco, CA 94102
+1 415 355 9905 phone
+1 415 355 9933 fax

United Nations Environment Programme

Nate Pagel

1045a York St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
fax: 415- 558-8881
natepagel @mindspring.com


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RAINFOREST is an immersive experience set inside a 44 foot surround projection geodesic dome. The dome interior is covered with 360-degree floor-to-ceiling surround video from 7 projectors. In addition, a surround sound system conveys the lush biophonies that eloquently express the voice of the rainforest. The content originated from HD video that Nate Pagel shot in Costa Rica and edited at a recent residency at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. Pagel worked with construction and events company Obscura Digital to build the dome and sound designer Bernie Krause to create the soundtrack. The work was recently at the center of an eco-art pavilion for the United Nation’s World Environment Day in San Francisco, June 1-5, 2005.

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World Environment Day 2005

The United Nations was founded at a 1945 conference in San Francisco - and 60 years later, the UN returned to the place of its birth with World Environment Day (WED).

United Nations World Environment Day is one of the most important events on the international environmental calendar - celebrated around the world on June 5. Each year the UN selects a major city to host the main celebrations. Previous hosts include Barcelona, Tel Aviv, London, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro. San Francisco was selected Host City for World Environment Day 2005, the first time ever in North America.

"As cities grow– from migration or from increases in population – their inhabitants need a well-planned, clean, healthy and safe environment in which to raise their children and pursue their dreams."
Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General

The theme for World Environment Day 2005 was Green Cities: Where the Future Lives. It featured a series of special events focusing on urban environmental issues such as recycling, renewable energy, resource conservation, environmental justice and public health.

Representatives of the world’s 100 largest cities shared ideas and experiences, and established goals for environmental improvement. These were compiled into a document called the San Francisco Urban Environmental Accords.

From June 1-5, World Environment Day festivities included special events focusing on urban environmental issues. Each day of the 5-day event focused on a specific theme: Urban Power (energy, renewables and energy conservation), Cities on the Move (transportation), Redesigning Metropolis (waste diversion and the built environment), Pure Elements (food, water and air) and Flower Power (open space, biodiversity and greening the urban environment).

The 2005 World Environment Day included an array of activities—from symposia and seminars to various community events such as an environmental film festival, arts programming, experiential educational activities, eco-tours, concerts, and other events attended by Bay Area residents and many of the 16 million tourists who annually visit San Francisco.

"San Francisco is proud of its environmental leadership, so it’s a great honor that the United Nations has selected our city to host World Environment Day. We will work to make sure that World Environment Day in San Francisco leaves a legacy that will advance environmental well-being here at home and around the world."
Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco

Hosts and Guests for WED included:

  • UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan
  • Al Gore
  • Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Mayor Gavin Newsom
  • Willie L. Brown, Jr., Former Mayor of San Francisco (1996-2004)
  • Jerry Brown, Mayor, City of Oakland, California
  • Jean-Michel Cousteau, Ocean Futures Society
  • Jane Goodall
  • Mikhail Gorbachev
  • Dr. Richard Leakey, Paleontologist
  • Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Prize laureate
  • Robert Redford, Martin Sheen, Daryl Hannah, Angelina Jolie, Woody Harrelson, Naomi Campbell

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The Natural World Museum and the Arts at W.E.D.

The Natural World Museum, in official partnership with the United Nations World Environment Day (W.E.D.), presented an exciting environmental art showcase, ART INTO ACTION: Inspiring Sustainable Culture, exhibited in the Fort Mason Center from June 1-5, 2005. This monumental exhibition featured world-class art, from traditional forms to contemporary and multimedia visions, by artists from over a dozen countries, and featured installations from the world's leading conservation groups. This innovative exhibition was complimented by an array of educational programs and events highlighting world leaders in the fields of art, conservation, education, science, and 'green' business.

ART INTO ACTION: Inspiring Sustainable Culture
April 29 - June 6, 2005 Oakland International Airport
June 1 - 5, 2005 Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
June 1 - June 30, 2005 111 Minna Gallery, San Francisco

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RAINFOREST: An Immersive Experience

Media Artist Nate Pagel created an immersive rainforest experience using both high definition (HD) video shot in several stunning locations and natural soundscapes by internationally-known sound sculptor and designer, Bernie Krause. Evocative of both place and the cycles of day and night, this engaging collaboration consists of Pagel’s abstracted, artistic vision of a variety of Costa Rica’s lush rainforests enhanced by Krause’s compelling surround soundscapes of the same habitats. The dome experience itself was in view at the Festival Pavilion Hall at Fort Mason in San Francisco during the United Nations Environment Programme's "World Environment Day 2005," June 1-5, 2005.

In addition to being an engaging, rewarding and entertaining experience, this work brings attention to issues surrounding:

  • sustainable development,
  • minimizing developmental impact on fragile and important ecosystems,
  • Costa Rica's successes with environmental policy and it's National Parks system, and
  • protection of endangered plant and animal species.

The Physical Manifestation
The Surround Projection Dome is a complete surround theater system with video and sound. The dome and system are made by Obscura Digital, a San Francisco based events, production and fabrication company.

The dome interior is covered with a screen material, which is the projection surface for seven projectors. These projectors together create a 360-degree floor-to-ceiling surround experience. In addition there is a discrete surround sound system with multiple speakers placed around the space to convey the lush biophonies that eloquently express the voice of these rainforests.

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As many as 275 people at a time will be completely surrounded by an engaging video and sound presentation which makes them feel they are inside an abstraction of the Rainforest. Over 10,000 people were able to experience RAINFOREST during the week.

The dome is constructed of steel struts connected in a geodesic pattern - a stylish, strong, self-supporting structure. The dome has portals on opposite sides to allow visitors to flow through the enclosed space.

The 44-foot dome has 1500 interior usable square feet and is fully wheelchair accessible.

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The Osa Peninsula's Rainforest, Costa Rica: A World Treasure

The Peninsula de Osa, on the southwestern coast of Costa Rica, is one of the last truly remote areas in Costa Rica. To the east of the Peninsula is the beautiful and deep Golfo Dulce, one of only 4 tropical fiords in the world and the only known central Pacific calving ground of the Humpback Whales. To the west lies the Pacific Ocean and in the northern corner is one of the largest pacific mangrove forests in all of Central America. Four species of sea turtle nest on the peninsula's beaches and dolphins are seen regularly just off the shoreline. The interior of the Peninsula contains the only remaining Pacific lowland rainforest in Central America. Half of this forest is represented by Corcovado National Park which is where the video and sound were captured

The Peninsula is the second most bio-diverse place on earth. Due to its unusual, early geographic history, the Osa hosts an astounding number of species found no where else in the world (endemic species). A number of species that have been classified as endangered or threatened.

The Species of the Osa

Rainforests cover less than 2 percent of the Earth’s total surface yet are home to 50 percent of the Earth’s plants and animals. 70 percent of the plants identified by the National Cancer Institute as useful in the treatment of cancer are found only in the rainforest, yet less than one percent of the plant and animal species living in the rainforest have been analyzed for their medicinal value. Approximately 100 plant and animal species are lost each day due to deforestation. The cost of this in terms of lost use for medicine alone is staggering.

Originally, 6 million square miles of tropical rainforest existed worldwide. As a result of deforestation, only 2.6 million square miles remain.

About the Artists


About Bernie Krause

Since 1968, Dr. Bernie Krause has traveled the world recording and archiving the sounds of creatures and environments large and small. Working at the research sites of Jane Goodall (Gombe, Tanzania), Birute Galdikas (Camp Leakey, Borneo), and Dian Fossey (Karisoke, Rwanda), he identified the concept of biophony (a/k/a The Niche Hypothesis) based on the relationships of individual creatures to the total biological soundscape within a given habitat. Dr. Krause was Scientific Director (appointed by NOAA) of the operation that rescued Humphrey the humpback whale from the Sacramento Delta (1985) using processed feeding sounds of the same species to lure him to the ocean. Through his company, Wild Sanctuary, he has recorded over 50 natural soundscape CDs, and creates interactive environmental sound sculptures for museums, zoos and aquaria throughout the world. Utilizing proprietary delivery technology (ISS™), examples of his sound sculptures can be heard at the American Museum of Natural History (NYC), the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC), the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Chicago Science Museum, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center (near Mystic, CT), the California Academy of Sciences, the Flint River Center in Albany, Georgia, and many other venues worldwide. Non-redundant broadcasts of his sound-sculptures utilizing the ISS™ delivery system can be heard 7 days a week 12 hours a day over CBC/Galaxie satellite radio (Canada).

Currently he is a contributor to the BioMusic Project funded by the NSF, and a research project related to healing sounds sponsored by Harvard Medical School and the Institute for Music and the Brain Science. Through his company, Wild Sanctuary, he has been a consultant for the past 25 years to the National Park Service related to noise and natural soundscape issues. A recent pilot study for the NPS led by Krause linked his thesis of biophony to habitat health, territorial definition, creature density and dynamics. Krause’s latest book/CD is Wild Soundscapes: Discovering the Voice of Natural Soundscapes (Wilderness Press, 2002).

Bernie Krause, PhD
Wild Sanctuary, Inc.
chirp @wildsanctuary.com

About Nate Pagel

Nate Pagel’s work in the arts began with painting and photography at Rice University in Houston, Texas, while pursuing engineering and management degrees. At graduate school at the University of Sydney in 1992, while fulfilling a Rotary Foundation Scholarship for International Understanding, he completed several installation and conceptual/sculptural works that were exhibited at shows of the Tin Sheds Gallery in Sydney, Australia.

In 1994, while working with Apple Computer in Austin, Texas, Pagel began experimenting with computer-based multimedia as artwork. He moved to creating interactive CD-ROM experiences and web sites for many cutting-edge design firms. This work has in total garnered over 40 industry awards. During this time, Pagel began collaborating on virtual reality and teleconferencing projects with the Electronic Café International (ECI) and professors Marcos Novak and Allucquere Roseanne "Sandy" Stone. With Novak, he created the first use in history of a purely artistic, shared, immersive virtual environment over the Internet in conjunction with the ECI in Santa Monica. His collaborations with the Sharir Dance Company, using video in conjunction with interactive technology and live performance, have been performed for audiences internationally. As a new media artist, Pagel uses video, sound, graphics, the web, virtual reality, videoconferencing and other interactive technologies in his work. He specializes in video production, effects, lighting and stage design, and collaborates with choreographers, composers, video artists and designers to create theatrical performances, installation work and works for live audiences, tape, CD-ROM, DVD and the Web.

Most of his recent work has incorporated video and sound for live audiences. As a video producer and video artist for the last ten years, Pagel's artwork has been shown in twelve countries and broadcast in Costa Rica, Italy, Australia and the U.S.

Pagel has taught individual, University of Texas courses to college students in The Department of Theatre and Dance’s Animation Class and Radio-Television-Film’s Cyberspace and the Arts. Last Summer, he completed teaching classes for the Institute for Digital and Performing Arts in San Jose, Costa Rica. The culmination of these classes was a staged performance, incorporating video shot of the rainforest, that was featured on the front page of the national newspaper, La Nacion, as well as on the three major TV news networks.

He has spoken on several panels including South by Southwest (with Thomas Dolby) in Austin, SIGGRAPH in Los Angeles, GenArt (with Lynn Hershman) in San Francisco, and the Natural World Museum (with Bernie Krause) in San Francisco, and Digital Video in New York.

A more full CV is available at http://masstransit.home.mindspring.com/about

Nate Pagel
1045a York St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
natepagel @mindspring.com

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Locations, Dates, Times and Contact Information


Festival Pavilion Hall at Fort Mason in San Francisco during the United Nations Environment Programme's "World Environment Day 2005," June 1-5, 2005.

Dates and Times

RAINFOREST was on view and open to the public during Environmental Art Exhibition Hours: Wednesday, June 1 – Sunday, June 5, 10am – 5pm

Wednesday June 1, 2005

12 – 2pm UN WED Green Cities Community Open House with Mayor Gavin Newsom

Friday June 3, 2005

5:30 – 6:30 International Mayors’ Red Carpet Reception

7pm – 12am “Unite in Green” Gala Reception
Benefactors’ Private Champagne Tour – led by artists and celebrities
Gala Reception with Dinner Buffet
Master of Ceremonies: Daryl Hannah and Charris Ford
Green Leaf Awards Ceremony
Musical Performance, Art Auction, DJ’s, and special guest appearances

Saturday June 4, 2005

12 – 5pm Inspiring Sustainable Culture - International Symposium
Keynote Address and presentation on Climate Change by Al Gore
Panel Discussion with special guests: Randy Hayes, Francine Cousteau, Joanna Macy.

Contact Information

Nate Pagel
1045a York St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
natepagel @mindspring.com

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