Tales in the Trees, 2016
> Riverside Park <
Tales in the Trees presents a visual conversation with auditory components, including a campfire and a gust of wind that take place within a tree in a public space. The project is based on theories of how trees communicate with other trees and sometimes other species and natural phenomena. Arboreal communication for the most part has a chemical basis with information transmitted through root systems dependent on soil types, geological formations and moisture content. Trees occasionally will use wind to scatter leaves and seeds to send messages but these tend to be for long-term communication, relying on the chemistry of decomposition or new growth. Phenomena such as fire or wind can appear to communicate to a limited degree with trees as well─fire through chemical means and wind through auditory vibrations (or the arboreal approximation of sound). However, some theories suggest that trees merely use these phenomena as conduits for their own forms of expression.
The narrative of Tales in the Trees follows memories of things witnessed and experienced by the tree (or memories borrowed from other trees), often concerning animal activities, migrations or interactions with other creatures. As trees have quite different perceptions and concerns from us, our human platform for understanding the stories is limited and insubstantial.
Doug Buis is Associate Professor in the Visual Arts program at Thompson Rivers University. He previously taught at Cal State University Long Beach, where he was head of the Sculpture BFA and MFA program for seven years. His current interests are related to landscape transformation through volcanic and glacial activity.