Fuller Center for Productive Landscapes

University of Oregon – Department of Landscape Architecture

John Maxson [Browsing History]

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Odocoileus virginianus | White-Tailed Deer

The browse line is a distinct volume of space, five feet off of the forest floor, that is devoid of most plant life. Land development and human removal of natural predators have created safe, ideal habitat for the White-Tailed Deer to thrive and exacerbate the browse line. In an attempt to establish a healthy understory and ensure long term forest success, a deer fence has been constructed, encircling most of Overlook. After the anticipated removal of the remaining deer trapped on the inside of the fence, there is an excellent opportunity to monitor and measure the forest’s return to health.

Two white strings will visualize the void of the browse line. Tied together like netting, the string creates a grid pattern for clear data collection. The installation runs across the deer fence, providing an opportunity to compare both sides.

It is uncertain what the exclusion of deer will do to the Overlook property, and like the dynamism within the forest ecosystem, the string is held aloft by its own tension. This piece has a lifespan; made of cotton, the string will lose its tension, sag, fall, and eventually disintegrate. Placed adjacent to the ruins of an old fence, the installation reminds us that unlike an ecosystem, our interventions on a landscape will not remain in perpetuity.

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