Falling Tree

I’d been collecting 16mm films, film projectors and editing equipment for a few years. While viewing some of the reels of film, I found images of logging practices that shocked me, including a machine that strips the branches from the tree in one step, ripping up the truck of the tree while it’s still standing. Another image was of a tree falling towards the ground, seen from a distance, against a backdrop of still-standing trees. Yet another image is of a tree trunk, cut end towards the viewer, falling and bouncing against the ground.

Falling Tree is an installation based on these clips which were spliced together in a continuous loop and projected onto a young girl’s face. Looking out at the viewer she opens and closes her eyes, while images of logging play across her face – she is a reflection of Nature watching us, quietly observing and challenging us.

In the gallery the viewer was presented with a doorway with two video images embedded in it. Images of a face with eyes opening and closing could be seen from a distance. As the viewer approached the piece the sound of a heartbeat could be heard coming from the installation. The video images were silent and at first it was hard to decipher what the images were that were overlaid on the young face. With time a tree falling, branches flying upwards and a tree trunk bouncing on the ground could be seen.

This piece is not a protest against logging – I use wood and wood products on a daily basis – I live in a wooden house, write, draw and paint on paper & wood. But even though I use wood, and have had the disturbing experience of being in a clear cut, and have long questioned how loggers are affected by their work, I was completely unprepared for the raw images found on the film reels.

Falling Tree is a comment on the way that we log, the way that we scar the Earth, the fact that we do not live in harmony with our surroundings, but try to control and overpower the Earth, seeming to forget that we are all deeply connected to Her.

Special thanks to Sarah Phillips.

OUC Gallery, Kelowna, BC, 1999