• Ruta Kalmane Saksens

PRODUCTION, INTENT AND CONTEXT

The photographically illustrated project “What happens to leaves When they fall off trees?” created primarily for children audience tells an unusual rhyming story of a northern red oak tree leaf that seeks an answer to the question what happens to leaves when they fall off trees. This post will focus on the context in which the project is intended to be seen and the production process of the book, as well as it will clarify its intent.

Fig. 1: Kalmane Saksens 2022. What happens to leaves When they fall off trees? [book]


The project “What happens to leaves When they fall off trees?” is intended to be seen in the context of a book (Figure 1 and Figure 2). This book gives an opportunity for a child to interact with visual information in different ways, developing and involving visual, tactile, auditory, reading and writing skills.

Fig. 2: Kalmane Saksens 2022. Example book pages


The book “What happens to leaves When they fall off trees?” is entirely made by hand using several types of paper (80 gr/m2, 140 gr/m2, 240 gr/m2), including cardboard paper, recycled paper and organic hand-made leaf paper. Waxed organic cotton thread was used in a combination with glue for the binding part (Figure 3).

Fig. 3: Kalmane Saksens 2022. Production process of the book


The project includes images mainly taken by a digital camera. However, besides digital photographic images, it also includes work done with other photographic techniques such as a pinhole body cap on a digital camera, reverse lens on a digital camera and a cyanotype print, as well as it includes work from other mediums like handmade paper and a nature sound track, allowing the playfulness and experimentation to further enrich the project and providing an opportunity for a child to interact with the book by actively involving visual sense in combination with textual information and auditory and tactile senses, achieving a more complex engagement with the book (Figure 4).

Fig. 4: Kalmane Saksens 2022. Involvement of visual, tactile and auditory senses [examples of book pages]


The images in the book are sequenced according to the corresponding text of the rhyming story, letting a child to develop reading skills in combination with visual communication skills, allowing for a child to develop connections between text and image. The book also offers an opportunity for interaction in form of writing (Figure 5). Firstly, a child is given an opportunity to think about his or her own blood line and build an understanding of his or her own ancestors by filling in empty spaces under images of tree roots. Secondly, at the end of the book a child has an opportunity write a card for his or her deceased family member which gives a good opportunity for the child to think about if there is anything important he would like to say to the deceased family member.

Fig. 5: Kalmane Saksens 2022. Interaction in a form of writing [book content]


When the coldest and dreariest days of the year come, it is time for leaves to end their active life cycle and make space for the next season's leaves. Similarly, all living organisms, including humans, have a certain life cycle to follow and it is only natural for one to wonder what happens after one dies. Explaining the topic of death to children can be a particularly difficult task that should be done in a gentle manner so that children see death as a part of one's life and are encouraged to think about their deceased family members with love and respect. Being a mother of a deceased daughter and currently expecting my second child, for the past eight months I have been wondering how will I explain to my second child the death of his sister. This unusual tale serves as a starting point for a deeper discussion between an adult and a child around the topic of life after death.


With influences in photography from sources as diverse as constructed realities in photographically illustrated children storybooks (like David Robinson's storybooks “The Mushroom Picker” and “Penny Bun Helps Save the World”, as well as Nancy Roses's storybook “The Secret Life of Squirrels”), bird and nature photography (to name a few, Masahisa Fukase's photographs of ravens, Matthew Maran's bird and nature photographs, Sunder Ramu's photographs of leaves, Traci Griffin's mirroring photographs of trees and Charles Pratt's nature photography), as well as experimental photography techniques (particularly Jan Kapoor's and Derrick Busch’s toned cyanotypes, and Rick McGinni's experiments with a pinhole body cap), this project photographically illustrates an interactive rhyming story with bird and nature photography, highlighting arbitrary connections in nature that lead to new meanings by combining, cropping, cutting, adjusting, rearranging, flipping and mirroring digital photographic images to achieve unusual combinations which the viewer can decipher together with the complementing textual information. Further inspiration for this body of work comes from Anne van Leeuwen's handcrafted paper, Irving Teibel's nature sounds, Pablo Picasso's painting “Weeping Woman”, Anne Marie Zilberman's painting “Freya's Tears”, Suzanne Simard's book “Finding the Mother Tree”, Wallace Steven's poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” and Carlo Collodi's fictional character Pinocchio.


LIST OF FIGURES


Figure 1: KALMANE SAKSENS, Ruta. 2022. What happens to leaves When they fall off trees? [book].

Figure 2: KALMANE SAKSENS, Ruta. 2022. Example book pages.

Figure 3: KALMANE SAKSENS, Ruta. 2022. Production process of the book.

Figure 4: KALMANE SAKSENS, Ruta. 2022. Involvement of visual, tactile and auditory senses [examples of book pages].

Figure 5: KALMANE SAKSENS, Ruta. 2022. Interaction in a form of writing [book content].


BIBLIOGRAPHY AND FURTHER REFERENCES


BENDANDI, Luca (ed.). 2016. Experimental Photography: A Handbook of Techniques. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd.

BUSCH, Derrick. N/D. Georgia Pitchfork [toned cyanotype]. From Malin Fabbri. 2006. Alternative Photography: Art & Artists, Edition 1 (p. 31). Stockholm: AlternativePhotography.com.

COLLODI, Carlo. 2015. The Adventures of Pinocchio. Irvine: Xist Publishing.

FUKASE, Masahisa. 2017. Ravens. UK: MACK.

GRIFFIN, Tracy. 2013. Mirrors. From Ignant [online]. Available at: https://www.ignant.com/2013/02/25/mirrors/ [accessed 15 March 2022].

HIEBERT, Helen. 1998. Papermaking with Garden Plants & Common Weeds. China: R.R. Donnelley.

KAPOOR, Jan. N/D. Ex Libris series [pinhole,printed in cyanotype and toned in tea]. From Malin Fabbri. 2006. Alternative Photography: Art & Artists, Edition 1 (p. 106-107). Stockholm: AlternativePhotography.com.

MARAN, Matthew. 2016. Hampstead Heath, London's Countryside. London: Hemisphere Publishing.

MCGINNI, Rick. 2020. Pinhole series [pinhole cap on a digital camera]. From Rick McGinni [online]. Availabe at: https://rickmcginnisphotographs.wordpress.com/2020/04/24/pinhole/ [accessed 15 March 2022].

PICASSO, Pablo. 1957. Weeping Woman [painting]. From Tate [online]. Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/picasso-weeping-woman-t05010 [accessed 15 March 2022].

PRATT, Charles. 1982. Photographs. Aperture Inc.

RAMU, Sunder. 2018. Photography in the exhibition 'The Last Dance of the Leaves'. From The News Minute [online]. Available at: https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/last-dance-leaves-art-celebrates-dying-beautifully-80116 [accessed 15 March 2022].

ROBINSON, David. 2012. The Mushroom Picker. London: Violette Editions.

ROBINSON, David. 2018. Penny Bun Helps Save the World. London: GOST.

ROSE, Nancy. 2014. The Secret Life of Squirrels. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

SIMARD, Suzanne. 2021. Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest. USA: Alfred A. Knopf.

STEVEN, Wallace. 1954. Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. From Poetry Foundation [online]. Available at: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45236/thirteen-ways-of-looking-at-a-blackbird [accessed 15 March 2022].

TEIBEL, Irv. 1969-1979. Environments series [recording albums]. Syntonic Research Inc.

VAN LEEUWEN, Anne. N/D. Handcrafted paper. From Anne van Leeuwen [online]. Available at: http://www.annevanleeuwen.com/handcrafted-paper.html [accessed 15 March 2022].

ZILBERMAN, Anne Marie. c.1900. Freya's Tears [painting]. From Artessenziale [online]. Available at: https://artessenziale.tumblr.com/post/128837442708/freyas-tears-gustav-klimt [accessed 15 March 2022].

BENDANDI, Luca (ed.). 2016. Experimental Photography: A Handbook of Techniques. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd.

BUSCH, Derrick. N/D. Georgia Pitchfork [toned cyanotype]. From Malin Fabbri. 2006. Alternative Photography: Art & Artists, Edition 1 (p. 31). Stockholm: AlternativePhotography.com.

COLLODI, Carlo. 2015. The Adventures of Pinocchio. Irvine: Xist Publishing.

FUKASE, Masahisa. 2017. Ravens. UK: MACK.

GRIFFIN, Tracy. 2013. Mirrors. From Ignant [online]. Available at: https://www.ignant.com/2013/02/25/mirrors/ [accessed 15 March 2022].

HIEBERT, Helen. 1998. Papermaking with Garden Plants & Common Weeds. China: R.R. Donnelley.

KAPOOR, Jan. N/D. Ex Libris series [pinhole,printed in cyanotype and toned in tea]. From Malin Fabbri. 2006. Alternative Photography: Art & Artists, Edition 1 (p. 106-107). Stockholm: AlternativePhotography.com.

MARAN, Matthew. 2016. Hampstead Heath, London's Countryside. London: Hemisphere Publishing.

MCGINNI, Rick. 2020. Pinhole series [pinhole cap on a digital camera]. From Rick McGinni [online]. Availabe at: https://rickmcginnisphotographs.wordpress.com/2020/04/24/pinhole/ [accessed 15 March 2022].

PICASSO, Pablo. 1957. Weeping Woman [painting]. From Tate [online]. Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/picasso-weeping-woman-t05010 [accessed 15 March 2022].

PRATT, Charles. 1982. Photographs. Aperture Inc.

RAMU, Sunder. 2018. Photography in the exhibition 'The Last Dance of the Leaves'. From The News Minute [online]. Available at: https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/last-dance-leaves-art-celebrates-dying-beautifully-80116 [accessed 15 March 2022].

ROBINSON, David. 2012. The Mushroom Picker. London: Violette Editions.

ROBINSON, David. 2018. Penny Bun Helps Save the World. London: GOST.

ROSE, Nancy. 2014. The Secret Life of Squirrels. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

SIMARD, Suzanne. 2021. Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest. USA: Alfred A. Knopf.

STEVEN, Wallace. 1954. Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. From Poetry Foundation [online]. Available at: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45236/thirteen-ways-of-looking-at-a-blackbird [accessed 15 March 2022].

TEIBEL, Irv. 1969-1979. Environments series [recording albums]. Syntonic Research Inc.

VAN LEEUWEN, Anne. N/D. Handcrafted paper. From Anne van Leeuwen [online]. Available at: http://www.annevanleeuwen.com/handcrafted-paper.html [accessed 15 March 2022].

ZILBERMAN, Anne Marie. c.1900. Freya's Tears [painting]. From Artessenziale [online]. Available at: https://artessenziale.tumblr.com/post/128837442708/freyas-tears-gustav-klimt [accessed 15 March 2022].

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