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  • Circles: A Record of Our Time

    2017.     The environment records human movement, human action. When we depart, what legacy will we leave? Thousands of years into the future, what evidence will remain from the Anthropocene? Rocks layered with indecomposable plastics. The chemicals we exert, the toxins we dump, absorbed into roots and locked up in tree rings. Scars on rocks showing deforestation and the elimination and disruption to species. CO2 absorbed into freezing waters leaving ice cores murky and grey.   As Pope Francis put it in his much-celebrated encyclical last year, our present ecological crisis is the sign of a cultural pathology. “We have come to see ourselves as the lords and masters of the Earth, entitled to plunder her at will. The sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life are symptoms that reflect the violence present in our hearts. We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the Earth; that we breathe her air and receive life from her waters.”   In Circles: A Record of Our Time, I have focused on the visual recording of the Anthropocene in tree rings. The tree acts as a recording device, a camera. As trees grow they form growth rings, each growth ring different dependent on environmental fluctuations. During a conversation with Martin Bridge, lecturer of dendrochronology at UCL, he explained that since CO2 levels have been rising in the atmosphere, tree rings have been getting wider. This is due to the fact that the tree absorbs more CO2, causing it to grow faster, resulting in the rings becoming further spaced apart.   Turning the tree into a medium for making art and working directly with wood, I have produced an ecology of images that examine how mans relationship with nature can be read from trees. Acting as a pseudo-scientist, I have been investigating the wood as a photographic material and as a tool with which to consider the future of our environment. By incorporating and adapting scientific methods and devices I have evolved new forms of image making. Starting with the technique of chromatography, used to separate components of a mixture, typically in inks and dyes, I incorporated soil collected round tree roots. A form of chromatography with soil has been used in Mexico as a way for farmers to test the quality of their soil. Using filter paper and silver nitrate, I am able to create a photographic record of the components held in the soil, which would have been absorbed by the tree and influenced the growth of the next tree ring. Most of the minerals held within the soil are invisible without the use of silver nitrate. By drawing the solution through a central hole in the filter paper, the minerals from concentric circles according to the speeds they travel at. This organic banding of the soil components imitates the aesthetic of the tree rings, bringing the work in a full circle.