On The Difficulty of Naming A Tree

On The Difficulty of Naming A Tree

Digital Video on LCD Screen, Audio Speakers. Duration: 6,27 minutes.

What does it feel like to see a tree which cannot be named? Imagine one tree being planted on another tree’s body where the bodies do not derive from one kind of tree, but one grows in another’s body or vice versa. When two species of trees are amalgamated in one body, the identity of it splits, blurs and becomes liminal. This crisis of oneness could suggest the end of the symbolic value of tree – that is of the totality of the knowledge made with the categories, taxonomy and hierarchies.

On The Difficulty of Naming A Tree is a video piece which explores how we perceive ambivalent identity, and for this the artist receives inspiration from the interchangeable state of botanical bodies.

The video shows a series of scenes capturing trees and their parts (trunk, branches and leaves). Every scene in the video transitions by collaging two images of trees, where a tree in a scene has a similar shape to another tree in the next scene.

The artist made similar botanical shapes in two images overlapping so that the shape looks continuous in the collage. Although the images of trees were taken from different locations and the trees differ in species. In the transitional scenes, our perceptual recognition of space and species of tree is ruptured as the images are scattered, even so we can still perceive the continuation of tree shapes. In this sense, the video shows how our perceptual recognition of imagery coheres, also how this coherence can be ruptured by the introduction of ambivalence, yet the perception of a shape can still cohere.

The collaging of scenes is animated so that multiple grids pop up on an image and these grids reveal the other image rhythmically with a sound effect, and this audio/visual effect gives rise to the impression of a group of organic cells eating the other’s cells. The artist’s source of inspiration comes from his encounter with an actual tree in South-East London that has branches of another kind of tree growing out from the trunk, and this tree had blossomed in two different colours and shapes of flowers in spring. This bizarre sense of ambivalence is reflected in the visual exploration of the video-collage.