Bill Morse Photographer

Eruptions and Other Patterns

What is the sound of a tree falling in the forest? The death throes of the tree, perhaps, followed by an explosion of new life in its shadow.

       For photographer William Morse, descendent of missionaries and ministers, nature reinforces Darwin’s truth of evolution and natural selection. Southern New England moraines change as mosses and lichens take advantage of climate change’s increased rainfall. Many hardwoods like birch and ash disappear, retreating north.

       In “Portal”, life flourishes underneath the pine needles; the fallen pine needles themselves change the life underneath them. The photographs show evidence of chance, the struggle to survive, and ultimately evolution. One cannot fathom evolution other than as an essentially infinite series of small chance occurrences.

       Meanwhile, we have evolved to recognize and appreciate the natural world’s patterns, while making associations and abstract constructions. These closely-observed landscapes manifest both the chaos and the success of natural selection; death and erosion help reveal the internal structures. For Morse, the patterns and abstractions in growth and decay are beautiful, irresistible and thrilling. He approaches these scenes in awe of the struggle to survive and flourish, and with an intense wonder at the perpetual unfolding of the world