Yesterday and today

Pierre Huyghe, Timekeeper, 1999
A highly site-specific work by Pierre Huyghe, who we’ve admired in class in other contexts. It’s a wall sanding through layers of paint to the wall surface…thereby providing a window to read the passage of time–and from a flat surface! But isn’t it strange to think that if you perform this operation on a tree, rings are exposed that reveal the same passage of time as from a cross-cut section, if you were able to go all the way to the center…? (Although right,  not the whole ring as it was formed) An ongoing consideration is how our conventions and tools dictate the kinds of information we receive, and how we receive it. This is an inversion, or a 90-degree turn, in any case, that challenges what we think we know about how to know and measure a tree–if you know what I mean…

bound and unbound

Charles Ray, untitled (1973)


bound and unbound
tethered and untethered
which is the body of mediation—the human form or the tree?
do I project myself into his space,
the binding a cruel act against him—
or is it animal attraction to the tree?
is he free there, suspended against gravity
or am I instead the tree,
possibly imposed upon, bearing this unwieldy thing,
so awkward in its limbs and attitude
do we come to equilibrium,
being neither one way nor the other

tool : finding

the relationship of the tool to its corresponding finding
Shigo notes that the lightweight chainsaw made possible longitudinal sections, or dissections, of injured trees; he made over 15,000 in a 25 year span.
He found that the discolored wood varies in size, color, and degree of moisture — and shows a relationship to the external wound.
From the longitudinal application of chainsaw to tree, a very particular internal reality of the tree is revealed — albeit violently. Concepts of discolored and decayed wood and heartwood were subsequently developed — but we humans are still knocking from the outside.
(reference: Alex Shigo, A New Tree Biology)