The distance between us, 2021-22
A series of paired or overlaid, toned, gelatin silver films recording the shadows of Plane tree leaves and muslin cloth made without a camera. Each film is encapsulated in a Mylar envelope. Displayed backlit. Unique objects
Cultivated for its cooling shade and sentinel beauty in cities worldwide, the Plane tree, Platanus acerifolia, thrives in polluted air by shedding its contaminated bark. Collected from a suburban Melbourne planting, these autumn-shed Plane tree leaves were placed on photographic film and exposed to light without a camera. The cloth images were created using a similar method by arranging muslin fabric on the films and exposing it to artificial light. Most of the resulting negatives were inverted into the positives you see through use of an old, early twentieth-century chemical technique. The juxtaposition of dessicated Plane tree leaves and cloth made from bolls of the cotton plant, varieties of Gossypium species, points to our dependence on plants for comfort and sustenance, and our interdependence more generally, with the entire non human realm. Yet a definitively human artifact like cloth, remains distinct from non-human nature, even the heavily husbanded cotton plant or Plane tree. We may not be a separate creation, but we do diverge from the rest of terrestrial nature. After all, we alone can bend nonhuman nature to our will and then think it’s tragic.