The Oldest Living Things In The World

Hardcover | April 14, 2014

byRachel SussmanOtherCarl Zimmer, Hans Ulrich Obrist

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The Oldest Living Things in the World is an epic journey through time and space. Over the past decade, artist Rachel Sussman has researched, worked with biologists, and traveled the world to photograph continuously living organisms that are 2,000 years old and older. Spanning from Antarctica to Greenland, the Mojave Desert to the Australian Outback, the result is a stunning and unique visual collection of ancient organisms unlike anything that has been created in the arts or sciences before, insightfully and accessibly narrated by Sussman along the way.
 
Her work is both timeless and timely, and spans disciplines, continents, and millennia. It is underscored by an innate environmentalism and driven by Sussman’s relentless curiosity. She begins at “year zero,” and looks back from there, photographing the past in the present.  These ancient individuals live on every continent and range from Greenlandic lichens that grow only one centimeter a century, to unique desert shrubs in Africa and South America, a predatory fungus in Oregon, Caribbean brain coral, to an 80,000-year-old colony of aspen in Utah. Sussman journeyed to Antarctica to photograph 5,500-year-old moss; Australia for stromatolites, primeval organisms tied to the oxygenation of the planet and the beginnings of life on Earth; and to Tasmania to capture a 43,600-year-old self-propagating shrub that’s the last individual of its kind. Her portraits reveal the living history of our planet—and what we stand to lose in the future. These ancient survivors have weathered millennia in some of the world’s most extreme environments, yet climate change and human encroachment have put many of them in danger. Two of her subjects have already met with untimely deaths by human hands.
 
Alongside the photographs, Sussman relays fascinating – and sometimes harrowing – tales of her global adventures tracking down her subjects and shares insights from the scientists who research them. The oldest living things in the world are a record and celebration of the past, a call to action in the present, and a barometer of our future.

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From the Publisher

The Oldest Living Things in the World is an epic journey through time and space. Over the past decade, artist Rachel Sussman has researched, worked with biologists, and traveled the world to photograph continuously living organisms that are 2,000 years old and older. Spanning from Antarctica to Greenland, the Mojave Desert to the Austr...

Rachel Sussman is a contemporary artist based in Brooklyn. Her photographs and writing have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, and NPR’s Picture Show. She has spoken on the TED main stage and at the Long Now Foundation, is a MacDowell Colony and NYFA Fellow and is a trained member of Al Gore’s Climate R...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 10 × 11.5 × 1 inPublished:April 14, 2014Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022605750X

ISBN - 13:9780226057507

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface: The World as We Know It
Art Essay: The Future Is Invented with Fragments from the Past
            Hans Ulrich Obrist

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Science Essay: How Lives Become Long
            Carl Zimmer
Infographic 1: OLTW World Map

North America
1                      Giant Sequoia
2                      Bristlecone Pine
3                      Creosote Bush
4                      Mojave Yucca
5                      Honey Mushroom
6                      Box Huckleberry
7                      Palmer’s Oak
8                      Pando
9                      The Senator
10                    Map Lichens
 Infographic 2: Linnean Taxonomy

South America
11                    Llareta (or Yareta)
12                    Alerce
13                    Brain Coral

Europe
14                    Fortingall Yew
15                    Chestnut of 100 Horses
16                    Posidonia Sea Grass
17                    Olive
18                    Spruce
 Infographic 3: Deep Timeline

Asia
19                    Jomon Sugi
20                    Sri Maha Bodhi
21                    Siberian Actinobacteria

Africa
22                    Baobab
23                    Underground Forests
24                    Welwitschia
 
Australia
25                    Antarctic Beech
26                    Tasmanian Lomatia
27                    Huon Pine
28                    Eucalyptus: NSW and WA
29                    Stromatolites

Antarctica
30                    Antarctic Moss
Infographic 4: Growth Strategy

Roads Not (Yet) Taken

Researchers, Guides, Guests, and “A Little Way Through”
Glossary
Chronological Index
Exosystem Index

Editorial Reviews

“This unique, ambitious book sets out to review the interdisciplinary and fragmented work of those who have discovered by accident or purse perseverance an incredibly ancient living thing. . . . Sussman’s quirky catalog of travel and photo-documentation is both artistically and scientifically one of a kind.”