The video 'Reversing Silent Spring' (2016) summarises the ongoing Hollywood Forest Story begun in 2008. As I have recently been recording the increasing diversity of the dawn chorus in Hollywood forest, it struck me that my eco-social art practice is a modest attempt to respond to Rachel Carson’s seminal environmental book Silent Spring (1962).
The video highlights how my transversal practice explores the Western cultural-political ecology of industrial monoculture forestry to evolve an alternate flourishing forestry. New-to-Ireland 'Close-to-Nature continuous cover forestry which I employ in my practice, prioritises permanent, thriving forests and is a valuable means to rethink and move away from life-diminishing industrial land practices to towards life-sustaining practices and policy.
Importantly, reviewing the ecocide of industrial forestry is also a means to understand that planetary eco-social emergency is, at its heart, a crisis of Western culture. A culture that erroneously sees itself separate and destroys the nonhuman world will not advance a life-sustaining and just world; the Hollywood Forest Story allows me and others to envision living life differently.
... the black space/
that creates the universe, would...'
poet Deryn Rees-Jones 2008
Selected for the 2013 UCD Science Expression Film Festival of Curiosity on Biodiversity at 'The National Botanic Gardens, Dublin 1-3 Nov 2013
I've often noticed the areas in the small forest I live with that are regenerating well. 'Long live the weeds and the wildness yet'* that are so much a part of a healthy forest.
If I look low down in the forest it is hard not to miss all the young Ash trees coming up in their thousands that have appeared since we have selectively thinned our monoculture conifer plantation to transform it to a mixed species permanent forest.
I've been fascinated too, when driving through the forest at night how my car headlights, or torch when out walking, reveals all the young stems, that are part of a resilient forest and our collective biodiverse future.
the black space:
there is something deathly about the night. It is hard too when looking at these young Ash trees not to think of Ash die-back disease and the decimating effect it will have for Ireland's most common native tree.
The 'dark' also in general terms, signals the blackness that is engulfing the earth's non-human living communities due to the now globalised, ecocidal violence of industrialised culture. A culture that little acknowledges that it is causing the disappearance of an estimated 150-200 species each day, an unprecedented rate of destruction not seen since the dinosaurs disappearance millions of years ago, and an unprecedented predicament of unimaginable scale, that one species, our own, is threatening the viability of life on earth this century.
but this small forest, naturally regenerating and diverse, does have genetic and environmental resiliencies... particularly if we tend and thin the trees - overcrowded trees are more stressed and more likely to be susceptible to disease and pests, ever increasing threats now with climate change
so there is something oddly reassuring about these young trees at night ... all that quiet, relentless growing, in the cold, wet dark, amongst the brambles and Alder; supported in turn by the vast networks of decay and recycling by the microbial communities in the dark below
I took these shots very late at night, lo-lux setting on the camera, mostly ambient sound, late Jan 2013, Hollywood permanent close-to-nature managed (non clearfell) forest, in rural Ireland, thanks to Holly for direction as usual ; edited 4 feb
I end the film with an undefined strange sound accent that I introduced earlier in the film to associate with the Ash trees. to perhaps suggest that we have much to learn still from the complex resilience of the strange, black space of the Ash night
from different angles and lighting, the scale of these Ash trees is hard to determine...it challenges our perceptions of a forest (hence I also let our dog Holly walk through at one stage to interrupt the spatial qualities of the scene)
I wrote an article on my interest in ecocinema and ecocriticism for the 'EarthLines' network here 'the dilemma of filming beauty' ecoartfilm.com/?s=dilemma+beauty
A forest is a complex web of livingry, dependent like us, on the sun too; here I'm looking at my closest neighbours and what they are up to just before sundown. My small forest is undergoing transformation from being a plantation of conifers to a thriving and resilient world of hundreds of different communities
observation - 'With the passage of time, impressions stored in the consciousness about many related observations, together with the resulting relationships and consequences, permit the individual to build a construct about the moral implications of behavior.'
I create short experimental videos to engage people in Close-to-Nature continuous cover forestry. Interested in ecocriticism I have over time let Hollywood forest convey the story of its change over time.