The Word for World Is Still Forest - we suggest you stray far from paths cut by familiar habits and explore some of the innumerable perspectives on and of the forests that sustain this world.
The Word for World Is Still Forest, Ed. by Anna-Sophie Springer, K. Verlag, 2017.
"Taking its title from Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1972 novella, The Word for World Is Still Forest curates an homage to the forest as a turbulent, interconnected, multinature."
Contributors: Etienne Turpin, Sandra Bartoli, Shannon Lee Castleman, Dan Handel, Katie Holten, Elise Hunchuck, Eduardo Kohn, Ursula K. Le Guin, Silvan Linden, Yanni A. Loukissas, Pedro Neves Marques, Abel Rodríguez, Carlos A. Rodrígues, Catalina Vargas Tovar, Suzanne Simard, Kevin Beiler, Paulo Tavares
The Word for World is Forest: Excerpts from Ursula K. Le Guin
Mimetic Traps: Forest, Images, Worlds by Pedro Neves Marques
It Goes on Like a Forest by Dan Handel
The Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard with visualizations by Kevin Beiler
Life and Death of Data by Yanni Alexander Loukissas
Shannon Castleman: Tree Wounds
The Ancestral Tree of Plenty by Abel Rodríguez with Carlos A. Rodríguez & Catalina Vargas Tovar
The Political Nature of the Forest: A Botanic Archaeology of Genocide by Paulo Tavares
Leaving the Forest
Eduardo Kohn in conversation with Anna-Sophie Springer & Etienne Turpin
Wildwuchs, or the Worth of the Urban Wild
Report by Silvan Linden
Sandra Bartoli: The Old Trees of Berlin’s Forests
Katie Holten: Tree Alphabet
Not to find one’s way around a city does not mean much. But to lose one’s way in a city, as one loses one’s way in a forest, requires some schooling. - Walter Benjamin, “Tiergarten”
It is fitting that the launch for Intercalations’ newest volumes—The Word for World is Still Forest and Reverse Hallucinations in the Archipelago—will take place today in Berlin’s Tiergarten park. Like Walter Benjamin in his wayward rambles through the park and its artificial islands, which become the “first chapter in the science of a city” that is Berlin Chronicle, so too do editors Anna-Sophie Springer and Etienne Turpin in The Word for World is Still Forest offer a schooling in disorientation:
If you get lost in the forest, authorities advise that you stop moving and stay in one place to avoid confusion and increase the chances of being rescued. We see things differently: we suggest you stray far from paths cut by familiar habits and explore some of the innumerable perspectives on and of the forests that sustain this world.
Kaleidoscopic practices of reading and writing have informed the Intercalations series from the very outset, as I observed in a review of the first volume, Fantasies of the Library. These new volumes are no less prismatic. But while the library and its paginated affairs determined the promiscuous layout of the inaugural volume, in The Word for World is Still Forest arboreal affairs facilitate an entangled book that consists in photographically touring the Tiergarten and its ancient trees, observing riparian erasure along Berlin’s Landwehrkanal, thinking with the tropical rainforest of Ecuador’s Upper Amazon, visualizing genocidal violence through a botanical archaeology of central Amazonia, witnessing the incremental decimation of teak trees in an Indonesian conservation forest, visualizing the extensive data sets of Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum, surfing the subterranean “Wood Wide Web” via elder Douglas fir trees in British Columbia, chronicling the interplay of apocalypse and exuberance in forest mythologies (on this see also Simon Schama’s chapter on forests in Landscape and Memory), remediating the fictional forests of an imaginary exoplanet in Ursula Le Guin’s The Word for World is Forest, and, finally, becoming lost in (and, for the patient transcriber, finding one’s way through) the literal forest of a tree alphabet. (This is just one possible reading itinerary among others.)
Multi-perspectival, The Word for World is Still Forest takes as its object of inquiry the multinaturalism of the forest that perhaps can be best glimpsed through “the Amerindian way of perceiving images in and of the forest” that Pedro Neves Marques elaborates in his contribution. Though its method may be one of defamiliarization, this volume—a forest school staffed by visual artists, curators, ethnographers, anthropologists, forest ecologists, data scientists, and forensic architects—can be judged not by its capacity to disorient but rather by its potential for emancipatory orientation that for Marques consists in the question of
how to inhabit the space of the in-between, the interval between “worlds”—collaboratively and politically—in order to contribute to a decolonization of the many worlds from the imposition of the “one world.”
Taking place in an urban forest in the historically divided and fragmented metropolis of Berlin, the launch-walk promises to rehearse this volume’s main discovery: that the city haunts the forest just as the forest haunts the city. Curiously, it is a walk that has been rehearsed by Benjamin’s collaborator Franz Hessel, whose path in Walking in Berlin (1929) takes him past this walk’s very starting point (Tuaillon’s Amazon on Horseback sculpture) and then onward “without a specific direction” (ohne eine bestimmte Richtung) only to find himself “auspiciously astray” (glücklich verirrt). May its participants be so lucky. These rehearsals, like the one announced in The Word for World is Still Forest, are vitally important for maintaining the extremely tentative ecological relationships that sustain “worlds” and for recalling the forgotten colonial histories that still threaten to undermine them. - Jason Groves
Reverse Hallucinations in the Archipelago unfolds an itinerant encounter with nineteenth-century European naturalists in the Malay world, where the theory of evolution by natural selection emerged alongside less celebrated concerns about mass extinction and climate change; by re-considering the reverse hallucinatory condition of colonial science in the tropics—how scientists learned to not see what was manifestly present—the reader-as-exhibition-viewer may exhume from the remains of this will to knowledge an ethical conviction of particular relevance for confronting forms of neocolonization in the Anthropocene.
Reverse Hallucinations in the Archipelago reflects on the changing role of colonial natural history collections in the current ecological crisis called the Anthropocene. The volume features an essay by Anna-Sophie Springer and Etienne Turpin, which considers in parallel the histories of scientific publications and personal letters sent by European naturalists from the tropics in order to discern a schizophrenic dilemma at the core of the colonial-scientific project. The book also includes a science fiction graphic novella by Mark von Schlegell, Iwank Celenk, and The Slave Pianos (with Punkasila) about a futurist entomological meltdown. Photographer Fred Langford Edwards presents a series of works documenting tropical specimens held in the natural history collections of the British Natural History Museum, while artist Lucy Davis uses DNA tracking and oral history to retrace the path of teak furniture from Singapore to Indonesian plantations. Also featured in the collection are interviews with the director of the Wallace Correspondence Project and entomologist, George Beccaloni, and the geologists James Russell and Satrio Wicaksono, who discuss, respectively, the history of biological specimen collecting and a drilling project in the Malay archipelago which recently obtained 300 meters of soil samples containing 800,000 years of Nusantara climate history. To compliment these collections, musician Rachel Thompson adds a two-part composition relaying the Javanese osteo-mythology of the Dutch paleoanthropologist Eugène Dubious. Finally, the volume includes an original translation (from German) of a text by Matthias Glaubrecht, Scientific Director of the Hamburg Center for Natural History, which outlines the maddening rate of species extinction in the rapidly transforming Malay world, an interview with Zenzi Suhadi, Head of the Department of Research, Advocacy, and Environmental Law at the Indonesian non-governmental organization WALHI/Friends of the Earth, as well as a series of aerial drone photographs documenting some of the most recent transformations of forest landscapes in Nusantara.
Contributors: Akademi Drone Indonesia, George Beccaloni, Iwank Celenk, Lucy Davis, Fred Langford Edwards, Christina Leigh Geros, Matthias Glaubrecht, Geraldine Juarez, Radjawali Irendra, James Russell, Mark von Schlegell, SLAVE PIANOS, Anna-Sophie Springer Zenzi Suhadi, Paulo Tavares, Rachel Thompson, Etienne Turpin, Satrio Wicaksono