Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Trees. Fencing.

MTrees multimedia installation project is about dormant, dead and decaying trees. I spend several hours a week on field excursions, imaging trees with four different types of cameras and a digital audio recorder.

I'm fascinated by trees and fences. Trees are three dimensional free beings who inhabit spherical space -- up, down, forward, back, left, right, visible and concealed, width and depth, positive and negative.

Fences are two-dimensional objects, akin to geometric lines. Fences are relatively fixed. Trees are expansive. Fences are not very flexible. Trees are adaptable. When fences and trees meet, notable events take place, as seen in this triptych - CrabClaw, ChainLink and WiRes.

On this day, I am walking along the Massachusetts Turnpike between West Newton and Newtonville. Lest you think me reckless, I am actually on the adjacent service road, Washington Street. This chain link fence separates the street from the AMTRAK tracks and the highway.

CrabClaw is a chronological narrative. Here's the story I see: There was a tree. Someone erected a fence. The tree grew around the fence. Someone cut the tree down. The claw was too much trouble to remove, so Someone left it there, the tree clutching the fence unto decay, saying "I was here."

ChainLink is a story with a a different outcome: There was a fence. A seed took hold beneath it. The seedling never knew life without the fence. Now the two support each other.

WiRes is more complicated. The telephone pole was once a tree. Its horizontal spars mockingly echo its amputated branches. The above-ground communication wires, connected as they are to other former trees, mimic the under-ground communication wires of the root system which connects all trees to each other.

The tree on the lower right hand corner of the frame sends out its own wires to join in the conversation. But this discussion, in ones and zeroes, may be in a language it will not understand. ###

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