Rights of Nature

Between the years of 1888 and 1913, Romeyn Beck Rough published the American Woods. It is an extensive catalogue, composed of 14 volumes. Each volume is a disguised box that contains a set of 25 cards, showcasing three different section cuts of species of trees found in North America, and a instructive book. In total, Hough catalogued 350 species.

To do so, the author invented a machine that would cut the wood so thin that it was able to be placed between two sheets of paper, making the publication viable.

The ceaseless and obsessive search for understanding the natural environment, the things not created by humans, is a dear topic to me.

Be it for curiosity, science, love or profit, the human activity towards the non-human has been actively destructive in the last decades, and grows everyday.

Throughout the research, originated by the American Woods books, I came across a fairly different, not much spread concept: the Rights of Nature.
The idea of a non-human entity being a subject entitled of rights, just as a human being, is not new, as it is something that is currently applied to corporations.

Two main ideas guided this project: first, the critical view of the modernist, colonial monotheist-imposed binomial of man vs. nature; its direct consequence is nature seen as property, as a go-to place to harvest resources. This view conflicts with many indigenous populations’ cosmology that see the human pertained by the soil, the rain produced by the forest.

Second, to verify the very absurdity of a biological entity — a river, a mountain, a tree — being awarded legal personhood by the very same people that created, in first place, the necessity for these entities to be protected.

Featured at RISD Graphic Design website

Video produced for Grad Studio I, Fall 2020, at RISD, taught by Bethany Johns and John Caserta.