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01.25.21 – MVS alumnus Brendan George Ko shoots photography for the New York Times Magazine

New York Times magazine cover

A recent New York Times Magazine story about the work of Suzanne Simard, a forestry professor at the University of British Columbia, derives much of its impact from the accompanying photography: a series of lush images of British Columbian trees and fungus. Those photos were taken by Brendan George Ko, a 2014 graduate of the Daniels Faculty's Master of Visual Studies program.

Ko began working as a freelance photographer while he was earning his undergraduate degree at OCAD University. In addition to his editorial photography — which has also appeared in publications like Vogue and Flux Magazine — he maintains an active artistic practice. His most recent solo exhibitions were Moemoeā, at Contact Gallery, and We Soon Be Nigh!, at LE Gallery.

Image of forest fungus by Brendan George Ko

Photograph by Brendan George Ko.

Ko's Times photographs illustrate the forest milieu that gave rise to Simard's seminal theories about underground fungal networks known as mycorrhizas, which connect the roots of plants and allow them to swap chemicals and nutrients.

"The first thing I noticed was the aroma," writes the story's author, Ferris Jabr, of a forest trek with Simard. "The air was piquant and subtly sweet, like orange peel and cloves. Above our heads, great green plumes filtered the sunlight, which splashed generously onto the forest floor in some places and merely speckled it in others. Gnarled roots laced the trail beneath our feet, diving in and out of the soil like sea serpents."

Read the full story, and see Ko's photographs in context, at the New York Times.