In my recent tutorial with Jonathan I shared some of the practical experiments I’ve undertaken in the past couple of months which had not been published here - for that reason I have developed a short video to summarise my activity. I find documenting my process in this way to be advantageous in that it demands reflection in even the piecing together of the bare material (scans, screenshots, photographs), clarifying progress made and action to be taken. Through questioning the ways in which I see the project developing in relation to the lenses I am applying to my research and building a vocabulary through which to communicate, our discussion helped clarify the skeleton of my intention as to form methods of communicating a narrative rooted in identity and personal experience utilising multiple languages (written, material, digital); informed but essentially speculative rather than didactic. This is a continuous exploration through metaphor and poetic association between specific fields (neurology, geology, technology) that pivot around the ‘fixed’ point of home, represented by the ‘shed’ (a basic symbolic reference to Aristotle’s storehouse theory) a place which all of these explorations which are represented in different forms (text, manipulations of text as visual form, rendering, contact prints, video, 360° AR/VR) return to and fold into. I am taking the opportunity this week at the beginning of my summer break from work to consolidate and reflect, to update my project proposal, and to identify key action points for development moving forward.
This past couple of weeks I have been working on consolidating what I already have in terms of research, and paying attention to the fragments of ideas or connections I’ve jotted down on a hundred scraps of paper or notes on my phone. I really wanted to do this at this point, to start the new year with a clear focus, and my project proposal has helped me with this immensely. Most of my conversation with Jonathan last week was centred around this - moving forward into making and experimentation now that a broad framework is beginning to emerge. We discussed this idea of the framework, specifically in terms of time-based arrangements, sequencing bodies of work and subjects into acts, or something less linear. The time-based aspect I am considering more and more in terms of the work itself not having a fixed form or shape which is sympathetic maybe to the neurological process, or a kind of amnesia. It has become apparent to me that so many of the areas I have been interested in over the past couple of years converge in so many different ways, from the politics of rising sea levels and retreating landmass to memory loss and cultures of collecting, and Jonathan suggested that these areas being rooted in the same concern could be thought of as something circular with several acts which are all traversing a core principal.
With this in mind I tried to map all of those areas of consideration in that form, and the result was something which instantly clarified and furthered the connections between all of those areas in a really meaningful way. The map itself ended up resembling a kind of globe, which makes a sort of accidental sense in being viewed as such in relation to thinking of internal and external worlds; the neurologic and the geologic. I then tried converting that globe into a kind of timeline, and the word ‘retreat’ suddenly became much more meaningful; what resulted was a kind of envisioning of the retreat from the ice age (glacial deposits and land mass retreating, the North Sea and the submergence of Doggerland - more on this soon - leaving erratics in the cliffs and petrified checkpoints on the shore, retrieved to be examined as metaphors to memory, to the individual past from the collective and the physical to the mental…) to now - or more precisely a point between ‘now’ and what might be called ‘home’/a point of origin and the beginning of memory… the shed in the empty field in the photograph.
My first tutorial with Jonathan has really helped me start to consider reframing the emotive experiences at the roots of my exploration and questioning the potential of experiences which might be initially considered traumatic or generally negative, as actually opening up spaces for reflection on the nature of change. We each discussed some our own personal experiences of witnessing changes in the health and wellbeing of loved ones, such as processes of neurological disease, a discussion which I am very appreciative of and has helped me to begin thinking about our (to some extent) default reactions to ecological loss; human, physical or mental (memory, language), and environmental (resources, wilderness): Jane Bennett in Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things, discusses how our “modern selves are feeling increasingly entangled, cosmically, biotechnically, medially, virally, pharmacologically, with nonhuman nature. Nature has always mixed it up with self and society, but lately this comingling has intensified and become harder to ignore”.
We spoke about our understandings of transformation, and how we might reposition our perspectives on experiences which we might be almost programmed to ‘view’ and process as being either positive or negative, as instead being transformative, with the power of this as a kind of lens being to re-evaluate our relationships with the present: how do we respond to environmental degradation if we lose sight of the hope in acting on change? What is being done today in the pursuit of re-aligning negative effects and trends in human ecology, with helpful concepts and strategies? This is a question which I am interested in pursuing in terms of my communications with both neurologists and geologists. I am also spending some time concentrating on the aspect of personal narrative within my project which is a thread we discussed in my tutorial but has also come up in our symposiums, in relation actually to several of our practices including Friederike’s work, particularly in relation to types of mythologised experience; I am drawn back to Joseph Beuys in this regard as I begin to work with materials in new ways.
^ Hiroshi Sugimoto: ‘Pre-Photography Time Recording Device 040’ (left), ‘PPTRD 028’ (right), ‘South Bay Drive-In', 1993’ (centre)
Transformative experiences. Question of ‘negative’ experiences such as witnessing disease progress and take hold over the lives of loved ones as being powerful in opening up unique spaces for reflection, and re-evaluating our experience of the present.
These situations and changes make us shift our perceptions, pushing us to explore a sense and space of time pausing. A release. Associations between relative space and geo-biological foundations.
Natural change versus our feelings about how natural change should behave.