I really responded to the footage of Angell stomping around the woods in the snow, having a conversation with the mountains, the trees and the wildlife. I couldn’t help but think of the role that fire and trees plays in our mythology, especially the Western mythology, and even more specifically, in our Northwestern mythic structures. It seems that over the last hundred years or so, the forest fire has taken on symbolic weight as it has become a real threat. And the West has responded by incorporating the forest fire into our literature and our art. Some of us tend to romanticize the forest fire; some elegize it; many take it very seriously. Angell has taken the blackened remains of a forest after a devastating fire, inserted himself and some color into the palate, and made something beautiful and meditative out of the forest—the piece is a wonderful contemplation of how the artist can make sense out of destruction.
The most compelling parts to me is the section of the artist holding a conversation with the mountains and the section wherein the artist, through touching the trees, seems to “cure” them—or at least he begins a process of some kind of human engagement with the burned trees. I was struck at the frame of the last section; the camera barely moves, showing a field of trees black against the white background of a snow-covered field. Angell enters and then begins touching the trees and they light up in different colors. It reminds me of the Fortress of Solitude in the Superman comics. Not that I’m positioning the artist as some kind of Superman, but there is the suggestion that the artist can be a medium of some kind between nature and the rest of humankind.