Old woods rough-sawn surfaces, stress cracks and nail holes, it’s visible growth rings back to year one are – it’s silent history. But over the centuries, other surviving documentary evidence may surface – a found photo, postcard or related artifact. It’s most recent past is so current and unceremonious as to barely seem like history. But the pace of modern life seems to compress time, so that the experience of the historical dates closer and closer to the present, with popular terms like ‘vintage, retro, and mid-century‘ taking on more of the allure attached to an old object. The expanded historical imagination comes to include the current moment – or at least the one just before – like the vital outer sap rings of a living tree.
And why not – demolition contractors function like the original logging crews; flatbed truckers drive the ox carts, river rafts and ships of the past; the sawmill still rips logs with steel tooth blades, and lumber yards buy and sell wood. The following are encounters with more recent points along the timeline between American old growth tree and the contemporary design of the exhibition.