THE FOREST THAT BREATHS US
Jennifer Abbott, Suzanne Simard, Djwa Jai / Canada / 2023
A virtual reality experience made collaboratively with ground-breaking forest ecologist Suzanne Simard, The Forest That Breaths Us transports participants into a perspective of unfathomable interconnection by taking them inside the complex communication networks, familial relationships, memories and agency of a forest.
Though Dr. Simard’s findings were at first dismissed and even ridiculed, her work is now world renowned and firmly established by data and peer-reviewed science. She has established that trees have memories, agency and their own sort of language and that they communicate through an underground network of fungi. At the centre of the forest stand the Mother Trees; majestic matriarchs that nurture the overall health of the forest. She calls these trees “super-cooperators.” That cooperation extends to animals including insects, birds, salmon, bears and of course humans. This immersive experience merges storytelling, new media and cutting edge complexity science to create a visual and sonic universe where participants leave the confines of their separate egoic selves to enter the more-than-human world of a Pacific Northwest forest. In so doing, it challenges dominant narratives of our species superiority while encouraging acts of transformative change and solidarity with the more-than-human.