About Tree Drawings

Images are mediations. Even if the artists’ hand doesn’t make the mark, images have the fingerprints of a particular psychology on them. 

My interest in the effects of wind on trees began in 1999 while teaching the survey of art history to aeronautical engineering students. In my studio, thinking about the development of image making and, in order to uncover my own characteristic way of drawing, I designed an experiment to expand the definition of drawing. It was intended to be generic and inclusive – “marks made in response to the stimulation of an external phenomenon by an organism with distinct characteristics”. I looked beyond traditional aesthetic responses to light and its’ visual effects, for forces whose effects could generate mark making ideas or behavior. I imagined visual residues accumulating around the branches of trees swaying in the wind.   

I attached a pen to end of a branch and positioned a drawing surface below (paper, panel, photo), in order to record the track of the branch movement when excited by the wind. The duration of each drawing was anywhere from 15 minutes to 4 hours, and expressed the behavior of different tree species under a variety of wind conditions. Each image is a direct record, a kind of ready-made of the activity, a response to phenomena. Using a photograph of the tree acts a net, its surface catching and its image cradling the marks.

The drawings act as a visual residue of an event. Tracking trails trace the interaction of the trees with wind gusts. The videos and the digital pen movies show the unfolding of the event. With each trip into the landscape – I try to mediate between the circumstance and the image.

“…and yet even the most exhaustive analysis can leave other intentions mute and mysterious…” Joseph Conrad

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