In The Killing of the Tree Spirit, Daan Paans (1985) explores the way we represent nature in different zeitgeists and what these representations say about our relationship to ecology. This culminated in three case studies in which Paans links the past, the present and the future in order to poetically and symbolically restore the connection between humans and nature.
case study I
By hybridising ancient nature religious gods with contemporary anime creatures, time layers and views come together in a series of creatures based on both contemporary and ancient forms. Paans thus shows how ancient forms are still imperceptibly part of our contemporary thinking; the worship of nature through gods may no longer take place in the religious domain, but it is precisely in popular culture that we find the contours of our ancient alliance with nature today.
case study II
Modelled on the stylism of Romantic painting, Paans photographed a series of trees, seeking inspiration and connection through imagination. The trees evoke characters; Paans wants to leave it to the viewer to what extent this appeals to the sense of connection with ecology.
case study III
oak tree 2472
Paans collected representations of the oak tree from the past five hundred years ranging from medieval carpets and romantic painting to contemporary game culture. In this, he sees a similarity between cultural and ecological evolution. Using research techniques from biological evolution science, in collaboration with evolutionary biologists and A.I. engineers, he made a forecast of the representation of the oak tree in the year 2472. Scientific software thus outlined, based on a dataset of 30 representations from the past, the oak tree representation of the future.