Tree Walk

Tree Walk

Sunday May 21 2017
2:30pm
Washington University entrance, Lindell at Skinker

In partnership with the department of walking | http://www.dptwlk.org

This walk promotes the bodily experience of the Brookings Drive Pin Oak allée one last time. Participants will complete an orchestrated mediation between the vastness of tree body and individual body by materially mapping the interconnected condition between these beings. Each participant will partner with one tree, and begin their solo walk from that tree into the vastness of the allée — each establishing their individual trajectory, interacting with other participants and trees along the way. Pace, direction and interaction with fellow participants matter.

And so, while you begin at one tree – you go on a journey ultimately mapping out the constellation of trees and their interconnectivity that makes this landscape an allée. The material result is a mapping of individual paths, but also a mapping of interaction, and ultimately connectivity.

 

 

Trees & Shrubs

 

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Archives are elusive and beautiful things. We thought we had viewed all of the documents related to planting on campus when Sonya, the University Archivist, and I found note of a 1936 “Trees + Shrubs” plan filed with some unrelated items. Upon pulling the file we found this incredible, 3’x7′ campus-wide plan of the University’s landscaping. Here we found verification of the commemorative and alumni trees, as well as the first clear species call-out on the rows of pin oaks.

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The 1936 date confirms much of what we deduced on our visit to the tree-ring laboratory last week. While the specific planting date of each one of these incredible oaks may never be known exactly, we are moving toward confidence that the trees are ~80 years old.

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Worm’s Eye View

The second iteration of our root/tree enclosure has been in place for several weeks and has seen more use than the first. Perhaps this is due to the increasingly warmer and sunnier spring weather? Perhaps it has something also to do with the configuration of the enclosure itself? A series of drawings for each iteration of the enclosure provides further opportunities to consider what it means to create an interior and exterior space, what it means to position ourselves in relationship to the tree. Critical to this analysis is the point of view of the drawing.  Four drawings for each enclosure were made, all done in parallel (isometric) projection, however the most compelling point of view in my mind, was the worm’s eye view.

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This point of view seems appropriate for the enclosures because it positions the observer looking upward into the tree, as you would be if you were seated in the enclosure itself. It also strengthens, lengthens and underscores the tree and the enclosure, and their presence, while humbling the viewer. The worm’s eye view offers a sensation of being embedded within the earth looking through transparent soil to the tree and the enclosure above. Perhaps root’s eye view is more appropriate for the context of our studio? At least one more set of drawings to add to the current two would make a more complete series, so I am thinking about the next iteration of our enclosure project and what that might look like…

Marking Trees

Merriam-Webster defines a tree blaze as “a mark made on a tree to show a trail,” most particularly “a mark made by chipping off a piece of the bark.” As a material practice, there is a long history of mark-making on trees, imparting scars that last but do not endanger the tree. It is practice of the surveyor, the forester and ranger, and, most simply, of people who move through the landscape.

By leaving a trace in the material of the tree, the maker signals intention and, possibly, layers of information. As an indicator, it projects information in our visual plane for our feet to follow—a design for the sighted and the upright. It heralds an organizing system, one point in a network of points that is sensible only in relation to its terrain.

BlazeThe placement and number of blazes on a tree are a further extrapolation of terrain and projected human uses:

i) the out-and-back or destination trail, which requires way finding in two directions;

​ii) a directional use trail, which guides use in a single direction; and

iii) a loop trail or closed circuit, which is uni-directional and does not revisit the same points.

In the word blaze are echoes of its verb forms—”to make conspicuously brilliant” and “to make conspicuous or public.” Conspicuously brilliant, the blaze is full of material force and interest as an alteration to the texture of the landscape. Conspicuous, it invites its own public to participate in an experiential narration.