Platanus luna, 2002-19
A series of 25 double-layered toned gelatin silver films recording shadows of Plane tree leaves and a 1936 German moon map, recorded without a camera. Each film sandwich is encapsulated in a Mylar envelope inscribed with a laser-engraved number. Displayed backlit atop light tables. Unique objects.
It was late April and fallen Plane tree leaves lay scattered across the moonlit street named, serendipitously, ‘Vauxhall’ after the London district where, four centuries ago, this species, Platanus acerifolia, was first hybridized from American Sycamore and Oriental Plane. Its Platanus forebears shaded Plato, provided Cicero’s imagined scenery and marked a battle site of Alexander the Great. Registering alien oppression, an avenue of pollarded Planes cameo as background in the closing scene of the 1978 sci-fi thriller ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’. Cultivated for its cooling shade and sentinel beauty in cities worldwide, the deciduous plant thrives in polluted air by shedding its contaminated bark. Disturbingly, this variegated bole inspired the Platanenmuster or dotted camouflage ‘plane tree pattern’ design of the notorious Nazi Wehrmacht. Beset by the regime, German astronomers found solace mapping the moon. Like the complementary elements of a drawing, these camera-less shadows of dessicated leaves and gridded craters configure metaphorical figure and ground. The layered shapes composed of silver (the alchemical luna) crackle with primeval succession and ornamental grace, hybrid vigour and mortal evanescence, inviolate space and genocidal erasure, ecological order and its looming negation.