Ecopsychology and Forest in Motion

Trees surround us, but rarely do we spend time truly amongst them. The density of forest and the high production of biomass within our local area is one of the defining aspects of this place we call home. These forests are a home to many other organisms as well, small and large. We as humans are but one part of a greater forest of life. This is a major aspect of my studies at Fairhaven; looking at the psychological and sociological effects of forming deep and meaningful connections with nature. These photographs are a tribute to our forests, and to our living, breathing planet. By using the natural resource of wood as the medium for displaying my Forest in Motion photos, I am exploring creative ways to share and connect to an ancient relationship between humans and the rest of nature. We often think that in order to have connection to nature, we must be actively participating in some practical skills or knowledge pertaining to the “great outdoors”. This is but one way to form a relationship to nature, and as I am learning, a sense of connection or relating to something usually starts with a set of feelings or emotions. By displaying these photos, I am hoping to invoke these simple yet profound human responses we call emotions.

I am also exploring the concept of motion and movement. Motion is a key aspect of being human and of being an animal. We are fascinating creatures just in  all the ways we move, as well as the ways movement have helped us settle into ever corner of the earth. Specific to the photos, I am exploring the visual appeal of motion within a single frame. I am interested in how these photos may appeal to others. What is one’s somatic experience while viewing these photos? Is there some deeper connection triggered by viewing the blurred photos of trees; a common experience that may use to have existed in our ancient past?

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Aside

Here are some photos showing some of the elements of my project, as well as a photo of my test print.

The wood I am using is Cedar. They are circular having not been cut and shaped. I like the natural look of this, but am having difficulty finding a Laserjet printer that will print large enough for the slabs of wood. Orgininally, I wanted the prints to be larger than the actually wood, because it doesn’t look good to me to have the print ‘floating’ on the wood. I may have to give in though and have smaller prints (much like the test print shown below). I am thinking of at least making the prints circular to be in balance with the natural shape of the wood.

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The Test

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Never having time during the week, I finally had a weekend off to begin gathering supplies for this project. The method I heard of for transferring prints onto Wood uses a Acrylic Gel Medium. I am to apply a thin layer onto the LaserJet Print, and onto the wood, then place the print onto the wood as smoothly as possible, letting it dry and “transfer” over night.

I decided to start with a tester, to see how well this method works. I was able to salvage some already sanded pieces of wood from work.These pieces of wood are left over from a Story Pole (like a Totem Pole but different purpose) displayed in Whatcom Museum. These are heftly pieces of wood, and I believe it is Douglas Fir, so dense as well.
The surface of the wood is fairly dark, and I am worried how the prints will turn out. I took a small wedge piece to use as the tester, since it is too small a piece to transfer an entire print.
The procedure was easy enough, and in a matter of minutes I had the print pasted to the wedge of wood. The next day I scrubbed it off using hot water and a hand towel. To my delight, the ink actually transferred over, but to my disappointment it left a film of white from the paper. Also, the quality of the print was really low. Apparently Kinko’s laserjet printer is used mainly to print blueprints for architects and not high-quality photos.

While researching for this project, one of the main bits of information I came upon was that this only works with LaserJet and not with InkJet. At first I couldn’t find any information as to why this is, until I found a different method for transferring the print. After being a little dissatisfied with the result of using the Medium Gel, I found a YouTube video of a guy using heat to transfer the print onto a slab of wood. Check out his the website, it’s got a lot of cool stuff on it:

http://www.woodworkingformeremortals.com/2011/05/transfer-color-pictures-to-wood.html

This man explained that only LaserJet works because this type of printer uses heat to fuse the ink to the paper, so, all you have to do to transfer the ink off of the paper and onto the wood is to use heat to diffuse the ink from the paper, and fuse it to the wood. He used a hot iron which seemed to be more effective, cleaner, and quicker (and cheaper!) of a process than using the gel medium I tried. I plan to use his method for my final prints.

But until then, I need to find a Large Format LaserJet Printer in the area! I have tried the major print and copy services in Bellingham, with no luck. I may have to go down to Seattle where I found a Stables store which has this printer.

I also need to decide whether to print in Color, or B&W. I am leaning towards color because of how much I enjoy the colors of these prints, and I think they may actually stand out better on the wood than B&W.

I also have re-formatted the prints I will use, and switched one of the photos with another. Here are the selected prints:More Photos to come showing the process (for some reason my camera memory card is being read by my computer, so I have to use the University computers to upload any photos)