Heavily armed trees fight it out

Jud Turner sez, "'Duel Nature' is my latest 'Impossible Flying Machine' sculpture. It's about the unnatural act of war-making, expressed by heavily arming 2 trees; it's also about the fact that much of what appears to be pastoral nature is also a war between plants for sunlight and nutrients played out very slowly."

"Duel Nature" (Thanks, Jud!)


  1. “It’s about the unnatural act of war-making”

    “what appears to be pastoral nature is also a war between plants for sunlight”

    War is natural. And you clearly acknowledge that and contradict yourself within the same sentence.

    But great picture i love it.

  2. As I first watched Avatar, I was genuinely worried that this was going to be how Cameron was going to handle the climactic battle.

  3. So in one breath, the artist says war is an “unnatural act,” and the next he says that plants DO wage war against each other. Sounds just like a conflicted liberal to me.

    1. Art is about challenging preconceptions. Illiberal politics is about reinforcing prejudice to the point of conflict.


      1. I don’t think so. Art can be a means of challenging preconceptions, but art is about much more than that (except for bad, pretentious art).

        “Illiberal politics” is probably too broad and vague to say much about, but it seems more often to be about reinforcing prejudice to prevent conflict. But maybe that’s an equally meaningless generalization.

        1. So with the subject presented, does its obvious challenge to preconceptions (trees using tools, living wood supporting fire-based machinery) cause it to fall into “bad, pretentious” category, or is there a further refinement to your critical analysis? How does art that does not challenge avoid being mere decoration or advertisement? It seems we are left to judge the sculpture on a pretentious/decorative axis, which I argue is unnecessarily shallow.

          Art “is about much more than that” is a categorically broader and vaguer statement than my postulate about illiberality. It was a response to Chas44’s out of context remark, of course, but I felt it was very precise, given its brevity. Does anarchism reinforce prejudice to prevent conflict? Do many shades of libertarianism? Autocracy?

          Note I’m staying within the context of the meaning of art addressing the meaning of war; that should limit any illusion of over-generalization.

  4. I have mixed feelings about this, I like the juxtaposition of the trees and the mechanical stuffs, but I think the guns mounted on the trees over do the message. Mounting the guns on the bottom would have been a better choice IMO.

  5. One way of looking at war is describing it as institutionalized intra-species competition. It is natural, but since we’re humans, we can learn to override this and other nasty instincts.

    Maybe the artist is saying that the way humans wage war is unnatural. We tell ourselves that we compete for ideological reasons instead of for aquiring, preserving and maintaining resources like plants and animals do.

  6. Sadly, it’s not a fair fight. The deciduous tree can send out suckers if it’s shot down, but the conifer will be finished.

    1. LOL. Right on!

      The Certified Nurseryman in me got a laugh.

      PS: sorry I’m 10 months late to the party.

  7. FYI, Jud has a wonderful show in Portland, Oregon through the end of January at the re:vision gallery, part of the School and Community Reuse Action Project (SCRAP), 2915 NE MLK Jr. Blvd., Portland, OR 97212.


  8. it’s also about the fact that much of what appears to be pastoral nature is also a war between plants for sunlight and nutrients played out very slowly.”

    Am I the only one who’s reminded of that old Rush song by this statement?

  9. I imagine the birds and squirrels would be angry. Possibly they’d form a coalition. Due to insurance concerns, airplane tickets would be at outrageous prices. In contrast firewood would now be incredibly cheap, due to its falling from the sky as frequently as the strafed 747s. Christmas trees would all be artificial or possibly changed to some other plant, just to be on the safe side. April WOULD be the cruelest of months now.

  10. Thank you for these deeply thought-provoking works.

    The cyclic nature of life in a closed system such as our planet/universe necessitates that everything be food for something else. Thus, the entire system is in a state of constant transformation, which can be seen, as you have done, as war. I am not a proponent of war. It does seem to be hard-wired into nature at all levels – mostly unacknowledged until someone calls it to our attention.

    I’m turning over in my mind, the differences and similarities between the “hidden,” extremely slow war happening in nature and the overt, often explosive, suddenly destructive wars that humans wage against each other. Are we so impatient for transformation? Do we fear transformation so much that we try to bend it to our personal benefit?

    What can we learn from such ponderings that might help us transform war into peace?

  11. I have a loose confederation of vines in my back yard that are waging a very patient, low level insurgency. At one outpost I have to check every week or so to fight back its forays into my stately pine tree, launched from ten feet below the lowest branch. Another affiliate wrapped itself around my truck’s side mirror over the course of a weekend.

    God help me if they actually arm themselves as depicted.

  12. …Dr. Dudley and colleagues have found evidence that three other plant species can also recognize relatives.

    The studies are part of an emerging picture of life among plants, one in which these organisms, long viewed as so much immobile, passive greenery, can be seen to sense all sorts of things about the plants around them and use that information to interact with them.

    Plants’ social life may have remained mysterious for so long because, as researchers have seen in studies of species like sagebrush, strawberries and thornapples, the ways plants sense can be quite different from the ways in which animals do.


Comments are closed.