problem of the eastern hemlock itself.
A healthy hemlock might be the world’s
most beautiful creation, a living waterfall
of green, surely not improvable by any
artist (or scientist or writer). An adelgid-killed hemlock is, by contrast, a freak: a
tall, tapered spike ringed by perpendicular
spikelets, a medieval torturer’s instrument
magnified and planted in the ground.
Fallen, the dead trees balance at uncanny
angles. What good, what beauty can be
salvaged from this? Borden has abstracted
and stylized the fallen hemlock shape by
attaching yellow-painted fence posts to a
tree trunk. He has invited visitors to leave
messages on blue flagging tape — the same
kind adorning hundreds of the forest’s
researched trees—to evoke a Japanese-style memorial shrine. The flags fluttered
in the biting wind. One read, plaintively,
“ I’m sorry for our ignorance.”
The exhibit, for all its pathos, is not
without humor. A “hemlock data stick,”
perched end-up on a stump, lifts to
reveal a grey-painted plug inserted into
a carved groove — the instantly recogniz-
able USB attachment. The incongruity
of mundane technology in this sublime
natural setting coerces a welcome laugh.
“My work is similar to a Morrissey
song,” Borden explains. “The content
is terribly depressing. But the delivery
doesn’t need to be depressing.”
It also reflects reality. Harvard Forest’s
“wired woods,” with eight thousand volts
flowing under its rutted roads, may have
yielded more data than any other forest.
Those numbers, too, become art; a=ixed to
a shed that contains research equipment,
a graph carved into wood shows how the
hemlocks’ sap flow plummeted during
the tree-girdling experiment. More than a
decade later, killing those trees still haunts
Ellison: “They were looking at me every
time I went out in the forest, saying, ‘you’d
better get some good data out of this.’”
As his career has matured, Ellison has
As Earth’s global temperature increases, researchers at the NASA Earth
Observatory are recording how the planet’s ice is changing and how that is
contributing to sea level rise. Their mission, called Operation IceBridge, is in its
ninth year of sending aircrafts to map the snow and ice of Antarctica.
Operation IceBridge’s aerial cameras collect thousands of high-resolution
photographs during a single flight. These photographs provide an awe-inspiring
view of our planet, while reminding us of the devastating effects of climate change.
Courtesy of Kathryn Hansen and Nathan Kurtz, NASA Earth Observatory.
flying for science,