Treeman Syndrome - A Symbiosis of Symbols?

A symbol is a sign that indicates something else. It signifies something in the absence of the thing itself. Symbol is derived from the Greek symbolon σύμβολον (external link) which means "sign", or really "to put things together".

A symbiosis is a cohabitation between two organisms in close exchange with positive or negative effects for one or both parties. Symbiosis can lead to co-evolution, so that the species involved adapt to their mutual interaction.

Photo Credit: Tree Man Syndrome photo frame object; Part of the installation Cogito ergo Pisum at Double Solo show Hybrid with Jonas Theselius at Molekyl Gallery, Malmö, 2018.

© 2018 Timo Menke

Treeman Syndrome - A Symbolic Symbiosis?

A pathological antithesis of the human pea emerges in treeman syndrome, or correctly Epidermodysplasia verruciformis, an extremely rare autosomal recessive hereditary skin disorder associated with a high risk of skin cancer. The few known patients from Indonesia, Bangladesh and Gaza, are suffering from deformities resembling tree bark, particularly on the hands and feet. The disease profile mimics a plant-becoming, a radical hospitalization, a transgression from agent to patient.

The syndrome represents a symbiosis of symbols, a symbolic coalescence of different species, namely human and plant. They seem to both extinguish and reinforce each other simultaneously.