Slow Forest Year

You think looking at an individual painting or sculpture for 10 minutes seems long? How about a year?

James Gorman reviews a new book, The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature, in the New York Times Science Times today. It turns out the author, David Haskell, spent a year slowly watching a patch of nature.

Haskell, a scientist, “did no experiments and no research…He sat, and watched, and listened” for this yearlong meditative study.

For example, one day he spent an hour slowly observing squirrels. That simple activity helped him realize something obvious and profound. Like a Slow Art Day participant who discovers a color, texture or other seemingly hidden element, Haskell joyfully discovered that “squirrels appear to enjoy the sun, a phenomenon that occurs nowhere in the curriculum of modern biology.”

I’m getting the book today. I recommend you do the same.

– Phil Terry, Slow Art Day Founder

3 Comments on “Slow Forest Year

  1. This sounds like a very interesting book. It reminds me of an activity that humans in the past engaged in, before they had the distractions of technology, work, family, and other aspects of life that we have today. I’m sure it presents a powerful message about what the human mind can achieve with the consideration for time.
    I like how this book is related to the purpose of Slow Art Day. I think looking at a work of art slowly, besides for the benefit of our own minds and imagination, is an integral part of the artistic process. If an artist spends the time an effort to create a work of art to be viewed in gallery setting, the next step is for the viewer to put forth the effort and time to engage in the finished product. The point of an art piece is to affect the viewer in some emotional sense, and I believe it takes a timely observation to achieve that memorable moment when the piece has made an impression.

  2. The premise of this book particularly resonates with me, as I have taken some environmental studies/biology classes that have attempted to address the issue of not taking time to stop and look at our surroundings. Interestingly enough, I recently began to see the connection between being aware of your environment and taking time to view art, as Adrienne has noticed, this fall while looking at Vermont’s brilliant foliage. I often follow the same trails on the outskirts of my campus, and I began to notice with repetition the subtle nuances in my surroundings. Instead of speeding along, I have begun to stop and just look at the distant vistas and what I begin to notice when I take time to slow has been really enchanting!

    Anyway before I ramble on too long, as a tip for anyone in school like I am, if you want to read this book or any other for that matter, see if you can request your school’s library will get it for you, I know I will…!

  3. While I don’t have any particular experiences observing nature, outside of the occasional picnic or outdoor reading session, I can appreciate the thought behind this man’s yearlong meditation. I am particularly interested in looking/observing slowly, whether art or nature, in a world that is so fast-paced. I am curious how current trends towards technologically-driven exhibitions, etc. can be offset with the mission of Slow Art Day, and the idea of slowing down.

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