REWILD: A Short Film by Splash and Burn and ESCIF Chronicles Rainforest Restoration Efforts in Sumatra
To draw attention to the ecological devastation wrought by palm oil farming in Southeast Asia, the Splash and Burn project (previously) creates and documents large and small-scale art activations. The initiative’s most recent endeavor, titled REWILD and executed with Spanish artist ESCIF, involved carving a rewind symbol into a palm oil plantation in Sumatra, Indonesia, and creating a short film documenting the effort. ESCIF explains, “the idea of going back, of rewinding, is an invitation to reconnect with ourselves; to recover awareness and respect for the earth, which is the ecosystem of which we are a part.”
The land art intervention took place on an acquired plantation within a new forest restoration site made possible by the Sumatran Orangutan Society. After clearing the palms, diverse vegetation has been re-planted. In a release about the project, Splash and Burn explains that the restoration site is located on the borders of the Leuser Ecosystem, one of the most biodiverse places on earth. Sumatra’s forests—and the wildlife populations within—have shrunk by 40% in the past two decades, replaced by palm oil, paper pulp, and rubber plantations. Though not commonly known in the U.S. as a cooking oil, palm oil is the most widely consumed oil on the planet, found in everything from chocolate and instant noodles to lipstick and laundry detergent.
You can watch the trailer of REWILD below. It features an abstract soundscape by Indonesian composer Nursalim Yadi Anugerah. If you are interested in contributing, head to moretrees.info, and follow Splash and Burn (comprised of Ernest Zacharevic and Charlotte Pyatt) on Instagram.
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Situated in a clearing within an Italian forest, John Grade’s latest installation, Reservoir, appears like a chandelier glistening among the pine trees. Reservoir is featured in the Arte Sella Sculpture Park in Borgo Valsugana and is made up of five thousand clear droplets each of which is delicately attached to translucent nets, supported by tree trunks.
On designing Reservoir, Grade (previously) studied the Park’s ecosystem, carefully planning the installation in harmony with the surrounding landscape. “I became most interested in the way rain falls through this grove of trees, the canopy delaying the droplet’s journey to the ground as well as how quiet and sheltered the forest was during a heavy rain,” Grade tells Colossal. “I wanted to make a sculpture that responded to the rain directly as well as a sculpture that responded to people.”
Reservoir is constructed from heat-formed plastic parts framed with steam-bent strips of Alaskan yellow cedar. Each droplet is attached to marine nets with fishing line which are then incorporated with stainless steel rings to maintain tensions and support the tree trunks above the structure. The shape of the translucent droplets are formed from casts of human hands cupped together. “We cast ten different people’s hands for variations in scale,” Grade explains.
When rain falls or snow lands the water accumulates within Reservoir’s clear pouches, giving them their droplet-like shape. In doing slow, the installation gets heavier and lowers, while in sunny, warm weather, it rises back into its original structure as the liquid evaporates. “The sculpture rises and falls with precipitation differently each time it rains or snows,” says Grade. Springs below the installation limit the vertical range of movement, so Reservoir always remains 10 feet above the forest floor.
The dry sculpture in its original configuration weighs 70 pounds, but when filled with rainwater, it can exceed 800 pounds. Reservoir serves as a water resource for the surrounding landscape: when the water it holds evaporates, it creates a humid environment for the surrounding vegetation to flourish.
Movement also manipulates the structure of Reservoir, and, as part of the project, Arte Sella connected Grade with Andrea Rampazzo, a dance artist based in Italy. Rampazzo choreographed a performance, where four dancers would interact with the sculpture, making the installation rise and fall depending on their movements. “Each tree has a cable connecting the net to the ground running down its length via pulleys which can either engage the spring limiting its downward trajectory to 12 feet of movement or bypass the spring to a second pulley near the base of the tree at waist height,” Grade explains. “This way the dancers can pull or release any of the nine lines to create varied movement in the sculpture.”
Occurring during one day of festivities, the dance lasted 45 minutes and was performed three times during the day. “The four dancers also had the assistance of four members of my studio team to help work the lines during the performance,” says Grade. Due to more control over Reservoir, the dancers brought the sculpture down to two feet from the ground, so their bodies were fully immersed in the thousands of droplet-like forms. “Because we were lucky to have rainfall, the dancers were able to abruptly jerk the movements and shower themselves with water,” Grade explains. “Now we can watch the sculpture collect and release and move over the seasons and build upon those nuances to create a second installation. Wind may become a significant inspiration the next time.”
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British photographer Neil Burnell captures striking environments void of human subjects, often traveling to remote areas far outside of civilization. His ongoing series Mystical takes a look at the fairytale-like atmosphere created by the thick fog, gnarled trees, and moss-covered stones of Wistman’s Wood in Dartmoor, Devon, England. This particular wood has long been the subject of folklore and myth, with many writers describing it as the most haunted location in Dartmoor.
Despite the supernatural tales, Burnell is attracted to the atmosphere and photographic challenge of the English forest, and often visits the site at “blue hour” or the hour before the sun rises in the morning. “I have probably visited the woodland around 20 times in the last year, but unfortunately it has only had the required mist on two occasions,” Burnell explains to Colossal. “Photographing it without the mist/fog is a hard task and almost impossible to make images with the atmosphere I am looking for.”
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Two peculiar ‘crop circles’ have recently been spotted in Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture. Viewable only from above, they were formed by sugi (Japanese cedar) trees.
Conspiracy theorists will be disappointed to learn that there is a very practical explanation for how these shapes emerged: science. Specifically, it was the result of a scientific experiment that spanned close to 50 years.
According to documentation (PDF) we obtained from Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, in 1973 an area of land near Nichinan City was designated as “experimental forestry” and one of the experiments was to try and measure the effect of tree spacing on growth. The experiment was carried out by planting trees in 10 degree radial increments forming 10 concentric circles of varying diameters.
Part of what makes the crop circles so alluring are their concave shape, which was an unexpected result of the experiment that would suggest tree density does indeed affect growth. The trees are due to be harvested in about 5 years but officials are now considering preserving the crop circles.
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For her 2011 series Come With Me, UK-based artist Ellie Davies (previously) constructed pathways through the New Forest in the South of England where she grew up. The pathways, built from wool, powder, paint, and mounds of dirt, follow the natural curvature of the trees and create a weaving line through space. The installations are each created with an intuitive spontaneity, and incorporate the labor as a central concept to the work. Davies carefully cleans up all the materials after she documents each trail. The photographer recently had a solo exhibition titled Into the Woods with A. galerie in Brussels. You can see more of her forest-based installations and digital compositions on her website and Facebook. (via Ignant)
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Polish artist and graphic designer Dawid Planeta summons large beasts in his series of mystical grayscale illustrations set deep in the jungle. The series, Mini People in the Jungle, presents animals in profile, with glistening eyes that illuminate the darkness surrounds them. A small child is also present in each work, bravely facing the towering creatures with a torch or outstretched arms.
Planeta works his own experiences into the mysterious work, channeling his history with depression into a source for creative energy. “Depression – it’s not easy to deal with, but when you try, you can stop thinking about it as a weakness and turn it into something brilliant,” said Planeta. “That’s what I aim to accomplish with my art. [The] things I’m trying to depict are dark, mysterious and frightening, but if you look closely, you will find excitement, passion and joy.”
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