‘A forest is what exists between its trees, between its dense undergrowth and its clearings, between all its life cycles and their different time-scales…A forest is a meeting place between those who enter it and something unnameable and attendant… Something intangible and within touching distance. Neither silent nor audible’. John Berger, 2007.
What is a forest? Is it the trees or is it the space that exists between them?
Between the Trees explores the nature and meaning of ‘Forest’ by considering the experience of standing alone inside the woods; the eerie and captivating sensation that time has slowed down and that the forest and everything within it exists in a different state from everything outside, somehow set apart from our usual perception of linear time. The wind drops, the air cools, all is quiet and still and the forest envelops us. To enter this other realm is to accept a slowing of time and a shift in perception.
Swirling, hanging and drifting smoke allows us to observe not only time moving at an almost imperceptible pace, but also to focus on the interior space that is very much part of ‘the forest’, guiding the eye away from the trees and allowing it to linger on this ‘betweenness’. Suspended and still, the smoke fills the spaces between the trees, and reflects our physical experience of these places: the palpable and brooding cognisance of the forest, the muffled and flattened sound, the prickling sense of heightened awareness. The ethereal mist fills the gaps to show the spaces between, as if we can slip through and escape the bounds of time.
John Berger in - ‘Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance', p.135-140 Verso, 2007.