Chat with the Woman Who Photographs the World's Oldest Living Things

Illustration for article titled Chat with the Woman Who Photographs the Worlds Oldest Living Things

Artist Rachel Sussman has traveled to all seven continents in her tireless quest to document millennia-old lichen, moss, bacteria, trees, shrubs, and even underground forests. Her book, The Oldest Living Things in the World, gathers 30 of these specimens into one gorgeous volume.

Sussman has been working closely with biologists and other scientists on this project for 10 years and has ventured to some of the most remote parts of the Earth. She hopes to capture the concept of "age" in a way that will help us to understand the unfathomable depths of time. "I approach my subjects as individuals of whom I'm making portraits in order to facilitate an anthropomorphic connection to a deep timescale otherwise too physiologically challenging for our brain to internalize," she writes. But her ability to create this art and education project has also resulted in a valuable resource for science: This kind of index has never been created.


How does she find her subjects? Where's the craziest place she's been? And what is the oldest living thing on the planet? Sussman will be joining us again at 3:00 pm EST, so ask away!

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Bob Sorokanich

Hi Rachel, thanks for joining us! I'm curious how old a thing has to be before you'll consider photographing it. Put another way, what's the youngest old thing you've documented in your project?