Rachel Sussman’s photographs of the oldest living things in the world – a masterpiece at the intersection of art, science, and philosophy.
With an artist’s gift for “aesthetic force” and a scientist’s rigorous respect for truth, Sussman straddles a multitude of worlds as she travels across space and time to unearth Earth’s greatest stories of resilience, stories of tragedy and triumph, past and future, but above all stories that humble our human lives, which seem like the blink of a cosmic eye against the timescales of these ancient organisms — organisms that have unflinchingly witnessed all of our own tragedies and triumphs, our wars and our revolutions, our holocausts and our renaissances, and have remained anchored to existence more firmly than we can ever hope to be.
Above all, however, the project raises questions that aren’t so much scientific or artistic as profoundly human: What is the meaning of human life if it comes and goes before a patch of moss has reached the end of infancy? How do our petty daily stresses measure up against a struggle for survival stretching back millennia? Who would we be if we relinquished our arrogant conviction that we are Earth’s biological crown jewel?
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I guarantee you that Rachel Sussman’s ten-year quest to chronicle the oldest living things on Earth will be the best thing you read about today. It will change the way you look at your life, and the life around you. It will change your perspective regarding your time on Earth, that everything, from fleeting mayflies to ancient mosses struggles for existence daily, and no matter how many sunrises we see, we should relish in each of them for their impermanence.