Dying Tree


“To not think of dying is to not think of living”
– Jann Arden

As humans, our individual sensory processes and ability to recall memories largely governs our perception of time. We view the world (nature, time, environment, other organisms) through an anthropomorphic lens. What if we were confronted with the slow death of another species?

One of the underlying struggles of the environmental movement is this human perception of time. As individuals, most of us cannot even contemplate our own short existence let alone those of organisms such as trees, which in some species may live for over 2000 years. How can we grasp the concept of such a long-lived organism nor their biological death, which may literally take decades? Or even at a larger level the idea of a species like this being driven to extinction from climate change or other environmental factors.

Dying Tree involved displacing an ill (dying) tree into a museum and embedding highly sensitive microphones into the outer cellular layers. The sound of water evaporating from the varied layers of wood tissue was amplified. As the cells dried they were dying giving voice to a slow death.

This body of work is meant as an homage to and extension of Robert Smithson’s DEAD TREE (1969) and Bruce Nauman’s Amplified Tree (1970).