When faced with the sad realization that just a century of human industrial activities has devastated the biosphere, there are two philosophical life rafts one can leap to in order to escape paralyzing despair: celebrating the endurance of the surviving species, and realizing the insignificance of our brief existence.
San Francisco-based Beth Moon’s incredible new coffee table book “Ancient Trees – Portraits of Time” allows us eco-freaks crunchy-granola types to take harbor in both of these metaphysical shelters: amazed by the beauty of these lofty sentinels that managed to avoid the lumberjack’s ax, and awestruck by our own inconsequence next to beings that have existed on Earth for more than a millennium.
For 14 years, Moon traveled the planet in search of the oldest and most outstanding trees to capture with her camera’s lens. After photographing them, Moon developed the film on special paper printed by a press over five hundred years old, utilizing platinum crystals to give the images a three-dimensional effect. The result of this labor of love – 60 stunning prints of our arboreal ancestors from England to Madagascar – is now finally available in print form.
“Standing as the earth’s largest and oldest living monuments, I believe these symbolic trees will take on a greater significance, especially at a time when our focus is directed at finding better ways to live with the environment, celebrating the wonders of nature that have survived throughout the centuries,” Moon writes on her website. “By feeling a larger sense of time, developing a relationship with the natural world, we carry that awareness with us as it becomes a part of who we are. I cannot imagine a better way to commemorate the lives of the world’s most dramatic trees, many which are in danger of destruction, than by exhibiting their portraits.”
Moon’s 14-year journey must have seemed like mere weeks from the perspective of these primeval creatures. But as short-lived mammals whose time on earth is fleetingly brief, her work has a timeless quality. If we are capable of putting an end to our planetary rampage and reversing the calamities we have caused, we will need more sources of inspiration like Beth Moon’s “Ancient Trees”. For this, Beth, we thank you.