OBSERVATIONS FROM THE CRITICAL ZONE
“What did the tree learn from the earth
to be able to talk with the sky?” 
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?
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