In 2008, while locating specimens to create a multi-colored blossom tree for an art project, artist and Syracuse University art professor Sam Van Aken had the opportunity to acquire a 3-acre orchard from the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. Fascinated by the practice of grafting trees since a young age, Aken began to graft buds from the 250 heritage varieties found on the orchard onto a single stock tree.
To create the Frankenstein-esque tree, Aken worked with stone fruits (fruits with pits) like peaches, plums, apricots, almonds, and nectarines. Over the course of five years he successfully grafted dozens of plants onto the same tree, and with that, the Tree of 40 Fruit project was born. Because of their similarities, all 40 fruits bud, bloom and fruit in near perfect unison.
Aken has since grafted at least 16 different “Trees of 40 Fruit” which are planted across the U.S. in places like Newton, Massachusetts; Pound Ridge, New York; Short Hills, New Jersey; Bentonville, Arkansas; and San Jose, California. Each tree is specific to its environment, using both local and antique varieties.
National Geographic recently met up with Aken to interview the artist about how he makes each tree. You can hear him talk about the project in the video above. (via Digg)
Located in the same island country that the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed is a structure that, like the hill-secured homes of the hobbits, also seems to hide within its natural environment. The Tree Church is formed almost entirely from living trees with thick leaves covering its shady interior. The New Zealand-based church can seat a hundred people and was first planted by Barry Cox on his property near Cambridge beginning in 2011.
The original inspiration behind the structure was a means for Cox to “retreat from society.” However, after others caught word of his living church as it grew into completion over the last 4 years, he decided to open it and the surrounding gardens for public and private events. The Tree Church is now set within three acres of extensive shaded gardens, including a labyrinth walk based on the ancient city of Jericho from 460 BC.
An iron frame is at the core of the church, as Cox wanted the walls and roof of the natural building to be distinctly different, “just like masonry churches,” he said. Cut-leaf alder was chosen for the roof as it is flexible enough to be trained over the frame which will be removed when the branches become strong enough to support the church themselves. (via Faith is Torment, Inhabitat)
Since we last mentioned Tensile tents around this time last year, the company has unveiled several new models of their fantastic suspended tent systems. There’s a small hammock for three that can be layered into a multi-tiered treehouse, a 2-layer tree tent, and a massive communal tent system designed to hold 6 people high in the air. Tentsile was invented by designers Alex Shirley-Smith and Kirk Kirchev in 2012 and have since taken the camping world by storm, opening their own factory and picking up an ISPO design award. You can see plenty more here.
Oskar Zapirain's photographs capture eerie forests cast in thick fog, hazy light descending upon the foliage in the same green shade that blankets the floor in moss. Zapirain has been attracted to this landscape for years because of the homogenous light as well as the way it forces the viewer directly into a mystical atmosphere.
The forest Zapirain features is a beech forest in Oiartzun, Basque Country in Northern Spain. This particular forest is unique due to the history charcoal production within the region. Instead of clearcutting like we do today, the trees were instead pruned to preserve the trees and maintain the integrity of the forest across generations. The trees have since regrown with short trunks and dramatically long limbs that shoot outward like arms from almost every angle, adding a ghostly feel to each of Zapirain’s photos. You can explore more of his work on Flickr.
Brazil-based artist duo Janaina Mello and Daniel Landini of Mello + Landini create tree-like installations with untwisted ropes fastened to the walls of galleries. Titled Ciclotramas, the artworks have gone through 17 different iterations since 2010, each involving some form of ropes that seem to branch through the air and splay onto surfaces like fractals or a network of neurons. The artists say they are interested in creating metaphors surrounding organic structures composed of both interrelated and independent parts, as well as the passage of time, and the “choreography of intertwining lines.” You can follow more of their work here. (via Artsy, My Modern Met)
In this new series of striking images, San Francisco-based photographer Beth Moon (previously) captures some of the world’s oldest living trees against shimmering night skies in remote areas of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Titled Diamond Nights, the new photos were inspired in part by Moon’s interest in several new studies suggesting a relationship between starlight and cosmic radation on tree growth. Diamond Nights is a progression of Moon’s 15-year journey photographing ancient trees around the world. Moon shares about her process:
The majority of these photographs were created during moonless nights, shot with a wide angle lens and ISO of 3200 – 6400. The Milky Way, a ribbon of stars that stretches from horizon to horizon burns brightly in some of the images. Exposures up to 30 seconds allowed enough light to enter the lens without noticeable star movement. Each location required a lot of experimenting. and different lighting techniques. Sometimes a short burst of diffused light from a flashlight was sufficient, or bounced light from multiple flashlights was used for a softer more natural glow.
Ellie Davies' studio is the forest, creating magical, fairytale-like stills throughout the UK. Davies has been exploring this terrain for the past seven years, attempting to uncover the complex interrelationships between landscape and the individual.
Davies creates both temporary and non-invasive interventions within each forested scene. By incorporating pools of light, smoke, and craft materials she places the viewer in the liminal space between reality and fantasy, a re-exploration of the natural world around us. In her series Stars, the artist overlays her own photography with stars plucked from imagery taken by the Hubble space telescope. These mystical images are created in order to encourage pause, and provoke thoughts about how landscapes influences our identity.