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"The Network"

date. 2020

city. Washington, DC

size. 5' x 4'

medium. acrylic painting

Artist Bex standing next to her painting of trees

Earth is home to around one billion trees, and throughout history they have been difficult to understand. They are immobile, yet they can live for thousands of years, only needing sunlight and water. In a forest, trees seem like solitary individuals, having no interactions with their neighbors other than competing for sunlight.


But they are not solitary, rather, trees are a network. This idea was first proposed in 1885, by scientist Albert Bernhard Frank. He proposed the idea that tree roots were working together, communicating with one another. Like most revolutionary ideas, his ideas were laughed at. But he was right. There is a vast network of communication happening right beneath our feet. Trees sharing resources, passing on warnings, and passing on information over generations. A network of trees talking, allowing a forest to act as a single organism. For example, two different species – the birch and the fir tree next to one other, share resources like nitrogen. Two different species helping each other. Trees will signal to each other if they are in harm, signaling for help and they also have kin recognition. Trees live in network with each other and have evolved over 400 million years, surviving four major extinction events - not by competing with one other, but by helping each other.

Network tree painting hanging in bedroom

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