"Shawn Johnston's video BVRCH (2019-2020) gives new life to another natural artifact. BVRCH is a multimedia composite study of a birch bark panel that examines the local knowledge of trees. Using photography, photogrammetry, 3D modelling, and video, Johnston develops an ongoing archive devoted to a birch bark panel found at his Innisfil, Ontario home. In the work, the artist rotates a 3D model of the bark, the surface of which is digitally overlaid with videos that suggest its place of origin: the streaking lights of a nearby road and the unusual geometries of a decomposing tree. Birch bark's white surface is patterned with black stripes that visualize its experiences and growth. Like  wrinkles on skin, these stripes signify a tree's maturity and wisdom, and like a scar, birch bark cannot regenerate the same patter once its surface has been stripped away. Johnston asserts that 'knowledge is written on the skin' of birch trees, referring to both the transcription of Indigenous knowledge on birch bark scrolls as well as the ways trees record local knowledge on their surfaces."

excerpt from LIFE AS WE KNOW IT, an essay by Megan MacLaurin. 2020

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