Great Read: The Oldest Living Things in the World

Kendal Yoakum April 14, 2014 0

Oldest Living Things In the World, Book, Rachel Sussman
Have you ever wanted to travel back in time to see what the world was like 50 years ago… 100 years ago… 200 years ago?  What about 9,000 years ago?  A new book that just came out today, The Oldest Living Things in the World by Rachel Sussman, can do just that.  Sussman, a contemporary artist based in Brooklyn, has spent the past decade traveling the world, working with biologists, and researching where one can find continuously living organisms at least 2,000 years old.  Why 2,000 years?  Sussman says that was chosen because it’s what we view as year zero.

In the book, one can find 125 beautiful color photographs and 30 essays.  Sussman says the book is “part art and part science, has an innate environmentalism, and is driven by existential inquiry.”  The exciting part of this book for me is that many of the organisms photographed are in countries that we can visit through Natural Habitat Adventures—places like Greenland, Antarctica, South Africa, and Namibia—and we can therefore have the possibility of our own encounter with the past in the present.  The study is meant to make us more aware of where we are in the span of time, and how we must become more mindful of our actions, for they can have long-term consequences.

This isn’t just a pretty picture book for your coffee table.  Sussman says it best: “The  Oldest Living Things in the World is a record and celebration of our past, a call-to-action in the present, and a barometer of our future.”

You can see Sussman discuss her then-ongoing research for the book in her 2010 TED Talk, below.

 

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