The Inclinometer is a tool used to measure slope, grade or elevation change in space. I became interested in the Inclinometer because I wanted to relate physically to trees and compare them to my own physicality. I chose this tool for its simplicity and direct relational qualities. The tree is sighted through the scope at the top of the device. As the elevation of the front of the device increases, gravity keeps the weighted rod perpendicular to the earth. The angel is then estimated based on the guidelines carved into the device’s left front face. Once the angle is known, you simply walk to the base of the tree, counting paces along the way. These two data points are then plugged into the tangent function to find the height of the tree in paces. I chose to keep the body as a unit of measure for this project because it is both practically easier to count steps then accurately measure feet and because it related the tree directly to a human.
The inaccuracy in the system creates a relational rather than objective understanding of the tree and questions the utility of, and ability to, fully know something. As the farmer and philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka says, “An object seen in isolation from the whole is not the real thing.” (Fukuoka, 26) The photographs of the Inclinometer all have graphs superimposed over them to acknowledge that the information we gain with this tool is legible but incomplete. This project is an attempt to relate to a specific quality of the tree without isolating the observation from the whole.