Ruta Saksens Kalmane
TELLING A STORY
Stories can be told with as little as one and as many as hundreds of images. This time I will give an example of telling a story with only one image.
The following story is also a backbone of my current project on the Dutch urban park area Venserpark. The project will eventually include many images, but this time I would like to share one particular photographic image.
Venserpark, a place where nature tells stories to those who listen
Fig. 1: Saksens 2021. The resilience of a tree [photographic image]
Surrounded by Amsterdam, one of the Netherland’s busiest cities, lays Duivendrecht with its small local park area called Venserpark.
Every day hundreds of people pass through the park, but only a few take their time to connect with the flora and fauna of the small open space. The park’s area is home to a variety of animals, plants and trees, and they all seem to be co-existing and collaborating in a harmonious way, following the natural cycle of life. The greenery is a world full of connections, offering the observer multiple interpretations of its identity that can be viewed, travelling through the concepts of time, temporality, repetition, rhythm, cycle and resilience.
Although the trees, the plants and the birds don’t have their own voice, they all have a story to tell, we just need to learn how to listen. This image is only a fraction of the Venserpark’s identity, a piece of a larger puzzle that brings together an overview of the park’s hidden daily life.
In response to the story posted in the course forum, an online tutor posted a wonderful quote by Gilbert White from his book The Natural History of Selborne:
"The language of birds is very ancient, and, like other ancient modes of speech, very elliptical; little is said, but much is meant and understood" (White 1832: 277).
I absolutely agree that there's something special about the language of birds, and, in fact, I agree with those who believe that there's communication (to some extent) between all living organisms, including plants and trees. In 2015 ecologist Suzanne Simard conducted a large scale field-based experiment (based on decades of research about trees) on how trees make connections underground and how they communicate. She argues that the language of trees exists, and that this communication is achieved via infinite underground pathways and fungal networks. In the introduction part of her recently published book Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest Simard writes the following about the secret communication between trees:
''I discovered that they are in a web of interdependence, linked by a system of underground channels, where they perceive and connect and relate with an ancient intricacy and wisdom that can no longer be denied'' (Simard 2021: 4).
From fungi to birds, it is my honour to tell a visual story about Venserpark and its living organisms. From the day I moved into a house located right next to Venserpark, the park area became the extension of what I call home. For the last five years I have been fascinated by the everchanging yet seemingly always looking the same park environment, its biodiversity, animal world and the diverse calming sounds complimenting the mystical mood of the park.
LIST OF REFERENCES
SIMARD, Suzanne. 2021. Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest. USA: Alfred A. Knopf.
WHITE, Gilbert. 1832. The Natural History of Selborne. Springfield: Merriam, Little and Co Printers.
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1: SAKSENS, Ruta. 2021. The resilience of a tree [photographic image].