Almost Nature

[Image: From “Almost Nature” by Gerco de Ruijter].

The previous post reminded me of the work of Dutch photographer Gerco de Ruijter, whose fantastic images of gridded, altered, and semi-artificial landscapes have been featured here on the blog before, first with a stunning series of low-altitude aerial shots of tree farms, taken with cameras mounted on kites and fishing rods, then with a video of circular crop-irrigation landscapes in the western U.S., and, last but not least, with a disorienting urban video shot by a flying pigeon.

[Images: From “Almost Nature” by Gerco de Ruijter].

For the current project seen here, called “Almost Nature,” de Ruijter took aerial photos of a tree nursery in Boskoop, “the nursery center of Holland,” where nearly 2,200 acres’ worth of controlled tree growth is underway at any given time.

[Image: From “Almost Nature” by Gerco de Ruijter].

Fascinatingly—although unrelated to de Ruijter’s work—we read that “construction in Boskoop is very expensive, because Boskoop sits on an ancient bog.”

Construction must either be anchored into the ancient sea bed, which is about 60 feet deep in this area, or “float” in place on the bog on a special kind of raft. Until fairly recently, heavy structures were built on the top of alternating layers of logs (which float) and cow hides (which seal out the water). Even some old cathedrals were built in this manner. Gouda Cathedral is an example.

The Gouda cathedral is thus a kind of earth-ship, a vessel floating unanchored on a “special kind of raft” easy to mistake for architectural foundations.

[Images: From “Almost Nature” by Gerco de Ruijter].

In any case, the short text de Ruijter wrote for the series points out, in fact, that “all these little plants are clones” and that “each color descends from the same source. Standing in a square tray they resemble the photographic pixel.”

With this in mind, you could presumably undertake a project to plant these trees in a way that would produce an eventual, albeit very low-resolution, JPG—or, given the lifetime growth and seasonal changes of the trees, an animated GIF, combining digital representation with forestry and turning the aerial view into a new kind of living cinema.

[Images: From “Almost Nature” by Gerco de Ruijter].

You can see Boskoop on Google Maps, where the pixellation de Ruijter describes is obvious—if not as immediately captivating as it appears in his own photos—in the carefully managed greenhouses, nurseries, and local agriculture of the area.

The landscape from above is almost more like a series of polychromatic test-swatches, like something you might use to check the sensors of satellites with.

[Image: From “Almost Nature” by Gerco de Ruijter].

Meanwhile, de Ruijter’s CROPS video is currently on display at the Hirschhorn Museum in Washington D.C., where he will also be speaking about his work on Tuesday, October 8th, at 8pm, at an event that is free and open to the public, and there will also be a short presentation in the gallery space itself on Friday, October 11th, at 12:30pm.

[Image: From “Almost Nature” by Gerco de Ruijter].

Michel Banabila, the composer for CROPS, will be performing a live ambient music set on Friday, September 20th, at 12:30pm, as well.

If you’re in D.C., stop by.

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