Albert Einstein popularized the idea that “time is relative,” a phrase that even has a familiar meaning and which could be used to justify, for example, the long hours spent in the company of somebody we cherish but which we perceive as only having been a matter of a few minutes.

And if this happens to us humans, whose life is ephemeral according to diverse spiritual and artistic traditions, it is worthwhile asking how other creatures experience time. Imagining this situation from a stimulus such as that offered by the book Woodcut, by US artist Bryan Nash Gill, is somewhat delightful.

Gill’s work consists of photographing tree trunks with the peculiarity that they have been cut into horizontal cross sections, showing the lines of their ages, the rings that mark the passing of the years for these immobile witnesses; a clock whose hands form a circuit in which time passes at a different rhythm, with the particular parsimony and tranquility of those organisms rooted to the ground.

How would a tree react if we were also to tell it that ‘time is relative?’

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Albert Einstein popularized the idea that “time is relative,” a phrase that even has a familiar meaning and which could be used to justify, for example, the long hours spent in the company of somebody we cherish but which we perceive as only having been a matter of a few minutes.

And if this happens to us humans, whose life is ephemeral according to diverse spiritual and artistic traditions, it is worthwhile asking how other creatures experience time. Imagining this situation from a stimulus such as that offered by the book Woodcut, by US artist Bryan Nash Gill, is somewhat delightful.

Gill’s work consists of photographing tree trunks with the peculiarity that they have been cut into horizontal cross sections, showing the lines of their ages, the rings that mark the passing of the years for these immobile witnesses; a clock whose hands form a circuit in which time passes at a different rhythm, with the particular parsimony and tranquility of those organisms rooted to the ground.

How would a tree react if we were also to tell it that ‘time is relative?’

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