Inspiration

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Rachel Sussman and her photographs of The Oldest Living Things In The World

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Brooklyn-based photographer Rachel Sussman has spent the last ten years studying, researching and photographing the oldest living things in the natural world, believing that culturally, it’s important to capture these things while we still can.

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Rachel Sussman: The Oldest Living Things In The World – La Llareta, Chile (c.3,000 years old)

 

 

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Rachel Sussman: The Oldest Living Things In The World – Welwitschia Mirabilis, Namibia (2,000 years old)

 

The fruits of her labour of love are now finally published in her new book ‘The Oldest Living Things In The World’ which is a photographic record of 30 of the world’s most enduring phenomena, most of which are now under threat due to global warming. From humble lichens and fungi to colossal Aspen trees, the one thing all these organisms have in common is that they’ve all been alive for at least the last 2,000 years and in the case of the mighty Aspen, 80,000.

 

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Rachel Sussman: The Oldest Living Things In The World - The Senator Tree, Florida, killed in 2012 at 3,500 years old.

 

Rachel states: “The work spans disciplines, continents and millennia. It’s art and science, has an innate environmentalism and is underscored by an existential joinery into deep time.”

 

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Rachel Sussman: The Oldest Living Things In The World - Segole Bastab, South Africa, 2,000 years old.

 

Art and science merge as one throughout the book and it’s appeal reaches from people who will appreciate the beauty of the photographs in their own right to intellectuals who will delight in essays inserted by the likes of Hans Ulrich Obrist and Carl Zimmer.

 

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Rachel Sussman: The Oldest Living Things In The World - Brain Coral, Tobago, 2,000 years old.

 

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Rachel Sussman: The Oldest Living Things In The World – Underground Forest, South Africa (13,000 years old but believed to now be extinct)

 

Rachel states "I approach my subjects as individuals of whom I’m making portraits in order to facilitate an anthropomorphic connection to a deep timescale otherwise too physiologically challenging for our brain to internalize. It’s difficult to stay in Deep Time – we are constantly drawn back to the surface. This vast timescale is held in tension with the shallow time inherent to photography. What does it mean to capture a multi-millennial lifespan in 1/60th of a second? Or for that matter, to be an organism in my 30s bearing witness to organisms that precede human history and will hopefully survive us well into future generations?"

 

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Rachel Sussman: The Oldest Living Things In The World - Map Lichen, Southern Greenland, 3,000 years old. 

 

Rachel’s work succeeds in it’s intention to humble us and our fleeting passages of less than a hundred years on this planet and calls for us to reflect on the long term foot prints we are leaving behind for the organisms which will outlive us all to cope with. 

 

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Rachel Sussman: The Oldest Living Things In The World – Jōmon Sugi, Japanese Cedar, Japan (up to 7,000 years old)

 

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Rachel Sussman: The Oldest Living Things In The World - Stromatolites, Western Australia 3,500 years old.

 

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