A world without trees
Dr Iain Woodhouse, a lecturer in Geosciences at the University of Edinburgh and an expert in satellite mapping and forest ecology has reproduced three paintings by Constable, Suerat, and Van Gogh with some or all of the trees removed.
On his blog Forest Planet he says that the project ‘came about as an attempt to visually represent “loss”‘ and you can click between the altered version and the original. In an interview with BBC News he argued that “It is crucial that trees do not disappear from our landscapes”, adding that “Trees are a vital global resource, providing fuel, shelter, clean water and food for many species including people, and helping to maintain a healthy atmosphere by harvesting carbon dioxide.”
The experience of viewing the photo-shopped paintings is odd; an uncanny experience a little like reading a well-known sentence from a novel and realising it is not what you remembered. Clearly the jarring effect is important. But I also wondered about the curious tension between such an aesthetic experience of loss and the reality of deforestation and the crucial role forests play in the Earth’s ecology. Certainly, the expanse of sky revealed in the altered versions, and the impression of heat in the Suerat and Van Gogh, intensify the feeling of a changed and oppressive new climate.