At the downtown Truckenbrod Gallery, a four-piece video installation weaves a combination of filmography, hand-drawn animation, music and voice acting with thematic elements of science-fiction and horror to call Oregon’s contemporary forest management practices – and the impacts they have on the state’s forest ecosystems – into question.
Created by Julia Oldham, a Eugene-based multimedia artist, the solo exhibition, titled “The Birth of the Hyperforest”, is a story of two sisters driving through a forest in search of anomalous, strangely behaving “tree beings” that “grow and regress, break down into geometric abstractions, and disappear into black holes.” Oldham’s project was inspired by years of exploration in the neighboring Coburg Hills, a “patchwork of BLM land and privately owned property” that’s currently used as a timber forest.
“Via a network of forest roads in the hills, you can drive through dense, dark forests full of deer, foxes and owls, and emerge into devastatingly bare clear cuts,” said Oldham. “It’s a fascinating and eerie landscape, especially at night, when the remnants of trees, such as strangely shaped stumps and huge slash piles, look like they could be transforming into creatures.”
Over the course of these venturings, Oldham began to imagine a story of trees evolving into beings that exist in higher dimensions as a means of escaping the dangers posed by humans in working forests – i.e., forests that are managed to supply wood for lumber, paper, energy, and pulp-based products.
“I wondered what these higher dimensional trees would look like and how they would behave, and whether they’d be dangerous to humans. My exhibition, The Birth of the Hyperforest, is how I’m beginning to answer those questions.”
The higher dimensional trees are referred to as “Dendrotopes”, a word Oldham invented for this project.
“I based this word on the mathematical term ‘polytope,’ which refers to a higher dimensional polygon,” she said. “‘Dendro’ is Greek for tree, and ‘tope’ is a more open-ended suffix that refers to an area or space.”
In the main video, which features footage taken by Oldham of the Coburg Hills, a fictional radio transmission from the U.S. Forest Service can be heard issuing an emergency alert for several Oregon counties where sightings of the Dendotropes have been reported: “Dendotropes can be identified by unusual behaviors such as rapid growth, appearance and disappearance of branches, visual glitching, and other strange movements. They are most likely to be encountered near timber clear cuts, burn sites, and other locations where there is widespread tree damage… It is currently unknown whether contact with a Dendotrope can cause bodily harm.”
“The Dendrotopes are ghost-like in that they aren’t corporeal in a normal sense and therefore can’t be cut down by a chainsaw or burned in a wildfire, but they are still alive. They exist in a different plane now and pass through our three-dimensional world at particular sites where there has been a lot of tree damage, such as clear cut areas,” said Oldham. “So in that sense they are ghostly too, because they are ‘haunting’ areas where trees have died and been mangled. A lot of my work is about the way that nature tends to work around the obstacles that humans present to find a way to thrive in spite of our destructive actions. The evolved Dendrotopes are an illustration of this idea. They are not the passive ghosts of human destruction, but potentially dangerous beings that have made the forest a hazardous place for humans to visit.”
It could be argued that this is a causal phenomenon; ecosystems that become more perilous and inhospitable to humans as a means of resistance against extractive, profit-driven relationships with land that have rendered them hazardous in the first place – and more vulnerable to the devastating effects of climate change.
“Obviously the practices of the timber industry and the use of clear cutting as a tool are contentious subjects here in Oregon, and questions about forest management have increased in recent years due to the prevalence of catastrophic wildfires,” said Oldham. “I don’t intend to provide answers or alternatives with my art work. Instead, I’m interested in using elements of science-fiction and horror to reframe the questions. With The Birth of the Hyperforest, I’m asking: What if our current forestry practices gave rise to trees that are sentient, interdimensional portals? Are you ready for that?”
You can catch the exhibit between 12:00 and 4:00 p.m. this Friday, Aug. 26, and Saturday, Aug. 27, at the gallery, located on 517 SW 2nd St.
Trans, Gender Diverse, & Intersex Pride: This Saturday, Aug. 27, the Mid-Willamette Trans Support Network will be hosting a Trans, Gender Diverse, and Intersex Pride event that will provide community resources, arts and crafts, drag performances, and more for gender diverse folks in the Corvallis area.
Water and sunscreen will be available at the event, as well as information and resources from local organizations like the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV), the Corvallis Daytime Drop-In Center (CDDC), and the Disability Equity Center. In addition, attendees who may be in need of rent relief, covering expenses related to gender-affirming care, or who may be experiencing any form of financial hardship will have the option to apply for the network’s microgrant funds.
“We try to give out money for our community to be able to afford rent, gas, groceries, but also document changes for trans folks if needed, like the fees the DMV charges to change your name or gender on your driver’s license,” said Executive Director Elijah Stucki. “We also have a resource list of local healthcare providers that’s been vetted by a group of therapists, doctors, and trans folks to make sure that they’re trans affirming, which we’ll have available for folks who want to get gender-affirming surgeries or need to talk to a therapist who’s not going to be horrible to them.”
The event will also be scent-free, meaning attendees should refrain from wearing perfume or cologne out of consideration for those who might be allergic or sensitive to manufactured scents.
“This organization is run by trans disabled people, so it’s impossible to not think about these things,” said Stucki. “My friends have mobility issues or need an interpreter or need accessible seating, and these are things I care about providing for. Because we’re trans and disabled, we understand what it’s like to be excluded from Pride or other events; we can’t go marching in a large parade, COVID is a harsh reality for our communities, and we want to provide a space for them that they feel safe about going to.”
From 1:00 – 2:00 p.m., attendees can catch performances by Haus of Dharma, a local drag entertainment and event planning group that, during the month of May, organized a handful of sex-positive benefit shows in town that raised over $600 in donations for the network.
“We care a lot, but we are a small volunteer organization, and there’s not a whole lot we can do monetarily at the moment because we’re not running on grants; we’re running on community support,” said Stucki. “But we want to let folks know that while there might be something we can’t necessarily provide at this time, we are thinking about these things and encourage them to reach out to us if they have other needs related to disability.”
They continued, “When you are a trans person, the world is not kind to you; you’re more likely to die before the age of 35, you’re more likely to be in poverty, you’re more likely to not have a job, you’re more likely to not be served by your doctors or healthcare providers. There’s a lot that trans people need help with, and community and mutual aid is the way forward – that’s why we do what we do.”
The event will begin at 11:00 a.m. and take place at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis, located on 2945 NW Circle Blvd. Masks are required. For questions, contact the network’s volunteer staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Corvallis RRFM Benefit Show: On Sunday, Aug. 28, an end-of-the-month benefit show will be put on to help sustain current and future endeavors of the Corvallis Really Really Free Market (RRFM), a local mutual aid and political activist group committed to distributing free resources to the community.
Taking place at Avery Park’s Thompson Shelter, the show will feature performances by local artists Jay & Hex, a nascent queer folk/country punk band from Corvallis; Mothra, a Eugene-based post-rock band; and a blend of video and music by moonside, combining experimental genres like webcore, footwork, and IDM (Intelligent Dance Music).
The show will be substance-free, welcoming of all ages, and follow COVID safety protocols by requiring attendees to wear masks and have their vaccination cards with them for entry – if you’ve lost your card, check out this story. $10 donations are recommended and greatly appreciated by organizers, who recommend that show donors – if they are able – become monthly members of the RRFM’s Patreon to help streamline the donation process and ensure that they can sustain rent for the free store every month, which proceeds from the show will go towards.
“Shows like this make or break us,” said one organizer, who requested to remain anonymous. “We have a lot of undying support to help cover rent for our new store, but it’s really a challenge.”
They added that about one-third of the store’s rent is covered by donations, while two-thirds is paid out of pocket by RRFM organizers – all of whom are also impoverished.
“We also face a lot of opposition to our causes. Mutual aid groups aren’t always welcome in Corvallis, [so] coming out and donating just a bit and listening to artists means a lot to groups like us,” they said. “On the bright side, we get to showcase a lot of amazing artists, who benefit from our work and also organize with us. It’s really building a community for lots of people.”
Much like the Corvallis DIY community meetups organized by Bitter Half Booking, RRFM organizers encourage attendees to also bring their art, crafts, and creativity to make and share with others. Free clothes, zines, and other resources will be available, and as with any RRFM-organized and -led event, folks are encouraged to bring what they can, take what they need.
“Having people set up their own markets is a big mission for us; we don’t want to be the only free market in Corvallis,” said another organizer. “People see us like we’re the one-stop shop, but we can’t do everything, and everybody has different schedules, and if you can’t make it to our market, then make your own with your friends, and we’ll help you to make sure more of these get going! So bring your stuff – bring your art, bring your food, bring your friends. I love the guerilla nature of all of it: we just get a scrappy group together, get the clothes, get the equipment for the music, and then we set up, going into this space with the intention that everything’s going to go well.”
The show will start at 6:00 p.m. For more information about the Corvallis RRFM and ways to support or get involved in the group, check out their Instagram page.
Items Still Needed for Local SA/DV Survivors: CARDV recently gave a shout out to the Corvallis community for donating new/unused basic needs resources requested in their Summer 2022 Wish List, the most recently updated record of items needed for local survivors of sexual and/or domestic violence.
And more is still needed. Items on the wish list include hair conditioner, body wash, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, hand soap, dish soap, paper towels, toilet paper, wash cloths, sponges, hair brushes, tissues, microwavable paper bowls, and size 4 and 5 diapers.
For those who would like to donate any of these items, they can be dropped off at the CARDV Advocacy Center – located on 2208 SW 3rd St. – Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. If you’d like to schedule a drop-off time, call 541-758-0219.
Trans Women & Trans Femme Social: On Thursday, Aug. 25, the Oregon State University Pride Center will be hosting a summer trans women and transfeminine social event – open to all Corvallis community members, students and non-students alike.
While the original Pride Center building is currently being renovated, the center’s new, temporary location will be in Room 112 of the Student Experience Center (SEC) on 2251 SW Jefferson Way.
The event will take place from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m., with games and snacks available. Accommodation requests related to disability can be made to Center Director Cindy Konrad by sending an email to email@example.com or by calling 541-737-9969.
By Emilie Ratcliff