Laminated Leaves: Tracking

I spent years trying to find out which tree, out of all the many trees in the world, is the very best tree. This entailed looking at all the characteristics that make a tree the best, such as its beauty, the number of leaves it has, the amount of shade it gives, its flexibility in the wind, and so on.

In many ways I was inspired by other popular contests and investigations into other high-quality categories of things, from human beauty pageants to the Oscars. If we can determine the best candidate in those categories, why not trees?

Once I started looking at trees’ relative bestness, I also become interested in other tree qualities, such as tree dopplegangers. This project, as part of the Best Tree in the World, is an outgrowth of that overall investigation of trees’ testable characteristics.

This 6-week installation explored patterns of human-leaf interaction. 74 laminated leaves from different trees were left on the gallery floor. As visitors walked through the gallery, their feet slowly brushed the leaves from the most heavily-walked paths. They could also intentionally re-arrange (or take) the leaves as they wished.

Three times a week, I drew a map of the leaves’ placement on the chart on the wall.

This series of maps was then analyzed longitudinally so that each leaf’s pattern of movement can be seen in relation to that of the rest.

As with many other works, the instructions and title were incorporated into the presentation and given their own panels.

You can see the complete set of leaf placements here, and a few representative leaf tracks here.

The final map of all the leaves’ tracks can be seen here.

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