The Forensic Spectra of Trees is an intriguing database documenting the chemical fingerprints of wood, detailing the cellular structure of trees and shrubs as seen under a microscope, with stunning images that occupy the lacuna between art and science. I find the collection of slides endlessly fascinating as they simultaneously represent the micro and macro view of our universe, resembling organic ancient tapestries and expansive galactic constellations. Rendered in encaustic, the interpretation of these images are textured and lustrous with perceived movement that reflects and illuminates light.
Originally photographed by The Smithsonian’s Stanley Yankowski, the slides are drawn from the 4,637 specimens amassed by the prolific wood collector Archie F. Wilson (1903–1960), the largest private collection of arboreal specimens from around the world. Wilson’s samples for wood identification not only were vital to advancing botany, but, currently are used in combatting the worldwide epidemic of illegal logging and timber trafficking.