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CallOfTheWild_2015_2016

Call of the Wild Magazine | 2015–16 29 Call of the Wild: How did this photo documentary start? And how long did it take? Rachel Sussman: When I speak of the origin story of this project, it is about a physical journey but also an intellectual and spiritual journey. I traveled to a remote Japanese island…Yakushima, a UNESCO World Heritage Site…to view a 7,000-year-old tree. It is the oldest and largest among the old-growth cryptomeria trees on the island. After I reached the island, it took two days hiking to reach the tree. However...I did not have an epiphany standing in front of the tree. That came later. The “light-bulb moment” actually happened about a year later, once I was back at home and telling friends about the experience. I realized that a lot of things that had been percolating for a while—travel, temporary explorations, strong environmental underpinnings, philosophical heft—came together for me. I was looking at the intersection of art, science and philosophy. Let’s call it a transdisciplinary art project. COTW: How did you find your subjects? RS: That was an interesting moment. I thought I would find an evolutionary biologist who could partner with me. But, one by one, scientists I contacted recused themselves by saying, basically, “We are not qualified to look at longevity across different species.” I quickly realized that I would have to become “the most qualified” and would have to work with 30 biologists. I looked at peer-reviewed research papers, read journals and searched out


CallOfTheWild_2015_2016
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