My name is Rachel Sussman, and I am working on a project called “The Oldest Living Things in the World.” I'm researching, working with biologists, and traveling all over the world to find and photograph continuously living organisms that are 2,000 years old and older. I started the project 5 years ago, and have since photographed nearly 25 different organisms, ranging from the Bristlecone Pine and Giant Sequoias that you've surely heard of, to some truly unusual and unique desert shrubs, bacteria, a predatory fungus, and a clonal colony of Aspen trees that's male and, in theory, immortal.
On a conceptual level, I'm developing this unique index of living organisms with exceptional longevity at a critical juncture in our collective trajectory: how will the natural world fare in the face of climate change? Part art, part science, part philosophy, I hope to tease out themes of longevity, sustainability, the natural sublime and mortality through the work.
On the practical side, I have around 10 more organisms on my list to find and photograph before turning the project into the book. Where do I need to go, and what do I want to photograph, you ask? The biggest trips include:
- Searching the Antarctic Peninsula by boat for 5,000-year-old moss
- Backpacking in Tasmania and mainland Australia in search of several clonal shrubs in ranging from 10,000 to 43,000 years old
- Visiting a sacred site in Sri Lanka for a nearly 2,300-year-old Banyan Fig tree
- SCUBA diving in Spain to find the 100,000-year-old clonal sea grass
As you can imagine, this is a very expensive undertaking. Thus far the project has been largely self-funded, and helped along by some generous friends and family. Your support couldn't come at a better time! It will help cover the costs of:
- Travel expenses (flights, accommodations, other transportation)
- Film (yes, I still shoot film!), processing costs, printing
- Specialized gear (i.e. a parka for Antarctica or SCUBA equipment rental for the sea grass)
Thanks so much for your interest in The Oldest Living Things in the World, and please visit my website -- http://www.rachelsussman.com and blog -- http://oltw.blogspot.com -- for more images information!