Recompose

January 10, 2016

Recompose: ROT

January 10, 2016

I spent one uncomfortably hot summer day wading and swimming in Lookout Creek in the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. In a logjam on the edge of the creek is a bone-white naked log with a small patch of fungus following the log’s longitudinal cracks. I almost missed it because it was so small and unassuming. When I saw it, I instantly fell in love with it.

Window-like holes created by insects open into the interior of the log revealing ribbons of cubical brown rot, cellulose long gone. Fungus, like an old scab with edges curling and dry, has been transforming the log that became part of the architecture of the creek many floods in the past. Unlike a scab on skin that protects a wound as it heals, the log’s scab is actively digesting the log. The forest is in a constant state of recomposition as fungi and other decomposers change the structure of the trees, and in doing so, create the foundation of the forest that is yet to be.

I manipulated the size of the fungus to 36 times its actual size and isolated it from its original surroundings of the log to investigate its form without distraction. Most of this fungus is hidden. I increased the scale to be able to explore the structure of the fungus beyond the form that is accessible to my eye and I have found that it has a pocketed body that is simultaneously exquisite and grotesque. Recompose is built layer upon layer of paper. Each layer cuts away windows to the layer underneath, as rot has created windows into the layers of wood. The process of making it is like creating a door that leads to deeper layers and complexity of understanding.

*NOTE: The foil in the work-in-progress images is arbitrary — it came that way from the hardware store and is only a temporary backing for the work in progress. The final piece will be mounted directly on the wall. Please ignore the shiny silver as best you can. 


Image below:

Gouache on Paper

16 in. x 69 in.

 

Progression of the Work in Progress

Recompose

Rot: The Afterlife of Trees

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