Observations from the Critical Zone/ Anne Noble, 'Two Room Gallery', Auckland, NZ


“What did the tree learn from the earth
to be able to talk with the sky?” [1]

The title of this exhibition, Observations from the Critical Zone, riffs off a science initiative that focusses on ‘The Critical Zone’, which is a descriptor for that living, breathing, near surface layer of the earth that is experiencing catastrophic (and invisible) loss of biodiversity.  Part lover of science, part interrogator of science, I began this project with an absurd question,  Do trees talk?  One answer to that question is, Of course they don’t. They don’t have language. But what might I do to find out?  Sit by a tree and hear it whispering?  Or investigate, adopting, with quasi scientific seriousness, a method to measure the tenor of the conversations between trees.

I have always been fascinated by the idea that bees have language and the thought that a hive is a conscious entity uniting complex aural and sensory communication mechanisms. I have listened to the tuneful hum of a healthy hive and observed bees conversing through touch, vibration and their wonderful dance. I have also heard the sound of a queen-less hive, and felt it as a groaning body of bees, humming all together a series of discordant lower tones. I have no doubt that a colony of bees maintains its complex interior world within the hive and its relationship to the world beyond through a language that has nothing to do with words.

And so to my questions, inspired by a little quote from Pablo Neruda’s Book of Questions:
Do trees talk?  And if they talk how might we understand them?


To read more, please click here.

November 1, 2019