Magical Realism Meets Real Time Data
Experiments begin by asking new questions or by asking old questions in new ways. The HJ Andrews Experimental Forest is a place of inquiry for scientists, writers, artists and musicians.
My artist in residency at The Andrews came at a perfect time for two reasons. I had been documenting the industrial tree plantations of this area for a few years and really wanted to see what this part of Oregon looked like before we so radically altered the landscape. I also wanted to shake up my own creative process.
When I entered the magnificent old growth forest at the center of the Andrews, I had the overwhelming feeling of being at home. Not a physical home, but a deeper more spiritual home. I realized quickly that my experiment would be to photograph what I felt. As a documentary photographer this was a departure that required me to ask old questions in new ways.
These thirteen photographs were made this spring using a very technical ‘Painting With Light’ technique to create images that dance at the edges of reality. During the time I was photographing I became intrigued by the technology employed by scientists to gather data.
The Andrews is an ancient forest wired for the future. It is dotted with highly sensitive instruments taking measurements every five minutes. Like a stream, the data flows down the mountain via a T1 line.
The first time I saw a set of plots generated from the data gathered, I was deeply moved. Immediately I saw the colorful lines and dots without the numbers and words. To me they were images being ‘drawn’ by the forest revealing its secrets.
Beside each photograph displayed in the exhibit is a set of ‘forest drawings’ that were made at the same time I made the photograph. Together they become an Old Growth Dialogue.