Shadowtree

My final project for Art and the Environment.

 

Trees are all around us. They have always been, and hopefully always will be, part of our landscape. Even in cities, there are trees. However, we often don’t think of them as being alive. To us, mobile and physically active beings, trees sometimes seem as though they are objects rather than organisms. The human relationship to trees is mostly a destructive one. We destroy them and incorporate them into our buildings, burn them and chop them to pieces. They don’t, and can’t, protest. Does this justify our actions?

This art project’s aim was to explore the identity of a tree as a distinct, living being. The tree’s shadow was outlined on the ground using rocks and sticks, and was filled with colours found in Nature, for example, bark, sticks, stones, berries and leaves.

Shadows and trees both are things we often take for granted. The nature of the shadow is fleeting, ephemeral and ever-changing. Its position is cyclical, following patterns of the sun, and in summer it even changes shape as the tree clothes itself in leaves. This piece of art is an attempt to pinpoint and hold on to a tree’s shadow, to prolong a moment, and to remind people that, even though a tree can’t talk and walk, it is much, much more than just a shadow. Shadowtree is a statement about the fate of trees across the planet. We sometimes complain about the mass slaughter of animals, and we declare that it is inhumane. What about the mass slaughter of trees? What is it like to be a tree? Can they feel? Do they have emotions? Animals stand more of a chance against us than trees, because they can flee, they can escape our greedy hands. But trees can’t. So who will speak for the trees? The Lorax? Who will speak for trees as individuals, individuals that together, make up a greater part called a forest. The shadow of this tree is the shadow of what we don’t see. It is a glimpse of what a tree really is.


 

 

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