Encircling Trees is the photographic remains of my performance of circling around a tree extensively, while handholding a large format camera that is constantly pointed at the tree. These performances/exposures last up to an hour.
The project is carried out during winter in late night. Trees look even lonelier in a world of white. Circling around trees is a great way to have conversations with them. This circular movement recenters my world, creating a sphere of spatial and temporal solitude. In this space and time, both the tree and I start to unfold. Every angle of the tree is compressed to one frame. The camera sees and remembers all my shivers.
Through this extended effort of conversation, I aim to find an alternative way of representation through abstraction. The long exposure obscures the subject, and unveil the presence of the artist’s hand—it captures neither of them but the relationship in between.
By circling around trees, I aim to find a way to abandon the carefully framed photo aesthetic and bring the creative process to a down-to-earth physical labor, where the artist has no control over the framing of the final image. The photograph is the only visible proof of this labor. As the viewer engages, the whole process evolves in their imagination.
In this demanding labor, I think about my ancestors that are pushing the millstone for thousands of years. In this mimical homage, every step is an effort of replanting the tree, and an effort of replanting myself.
I begin to walk more steadily around the tree, in this endeavor to escape the abrasive encounter with time, I realize I’m walking just like a moving hand in a clock.