Thursday, 31 January 2008

car drive winter landscape


a steering group meeting, and then to Wallace's Farm Shop, where i met a very lovely Hungarian waitress who admired my orange cardigan - we got talking and she told me of her remarkable life story so far, and how she came to be in the Blackdown Hills; answering a web ad for an au pair here, she couldn't speak any english but wanted to learn, so she just set off from her village in Hungary not knowing where she was going to end up. we talked about what it was to be an outsider, and the process of integration into a close-knit community, and the bizarre feeling in the Blackdowns - what is that?

then i headed to the monument, the one i'm always driving past along with most of you, on the M5 - a landmark for the driver. it's cold, very windy, and a hording surrounds the monument - i think it's supposed to be suffering from structural insecurity.

i film it from multiple angles through the holes in the hording, attracted by the 'gunfire' sound of the wind moving the riveted metal, with the stilled old canons partially revealed. a timely helicopter flies past; old and modern warfare. everytime i've come to the Blackdowns so far, a helicopter has flown over or exercised in the area - guess it's an attractive distance from Yeovilton airbase.

it's a bleak january day: exposed, harsh air, pale light, muted.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

artist's plan - january 30

- to make a lasting piece of work for the neroche project, which will be realised as a video/sound work (possibly supported by image/text work) both as a complete work in itself, and in small, randomly accessible sections for handheld computer (pda).

- the overall aim of the work will be to present a different yet complimentary perspective on the neroche landscape, something which can work alongside the other works produced, yet has the capacity to be more unusual in form and content.

- the work will take as its starting point and will explore:
the migratory, the transient, the passing through - species, flora, fauna, weather, light, human history, satellite and flight paths, walking routes both ancient and contemporary, commuter routes, transport lines, and will explore these thematics in relation to time - geological time, seasonal time, clock measurement and imaginative time.

- one or two examples may be tracked from each selected area (eg a species of butterfly, bird, one geological layer, flight path, lived life) to create a sense of a shifting, moving inter-connected landscape and culture rather than a notion of fixed locality - it’s a work that promotes a porous, moving landscape in dialogue with the other, the non human, the phenomenal.

- significant sources and influences: the here-paths, the perimeter boundary, the neroche map, a vertical cross section of the landscape, google earth images.
specific interviews will happen as part of the work with people in relationship to Neroche - eg. a natural historian, a long term inhabitant, a transient traveller, a child perhaps - and these voices would be worked in with collected and found sound/image.

- relationships would be worked between what’s mapped and what’s experienced, the visible and the invisible, the paths in relation to their endings/beginnings, the satellite image in relation to the eye and ear level perspective, the patterns made by nature/culture set in relief to the process of continual change.
- the research: a series of walks through neroche on the paths and along the perimeter, interviews with 3-4 specialists in species/locality movement, using video, images and sound.

- the composition: will be determined by materials gathered, and very probably assembled in specific relationship to a measurement/time/shape directly taken from the neroche project eg. the neroche map with here-path routes and boundary. the work proposed is ambitious, a little uncontrollable and wide-ranging so it has to be distilled, simple and very focused during the making.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

images from google earth

i floated over neroche all day collecting images from google earth. i was struck by the marks made by human activity, by tractors and farm machinary, by both the desire paths and formal patterns of some fields.

but i was taken by this next image the most: a landscape divided in two by satallite scans at different times of the year, one in spring and one in summer - a visible meeting of seasons across a landscape.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

the first meeting

the first artists meeting.
windy, grey, some rain.
we travel through from hemyock to castle neroche getting an inital impression and sense of the escarpment.

i make a list in my head of all the things passing through and think of things that are non-locatable, impermanent or invisible, things that appear and disappear,
vanish without even knowing they were there. and movement in relation to time. there was a glacier here? there were tigers, mammoths? what if i take a vertical sample from the top of the atmosphere to the deepest rock? what is the 'volume' of this place?

i spend time beginning a notebook and stick in references that i think will continue to trigger: quotes from Richard Long on paths and maps, Victor Burgin's UK 76 photos, Mark Wallanger's christmas wrapping paper design, some Annie Dillard and Rebecca Solnit references, and start collecting books on migration, land art and mapping.

"walking shares with making and working that crucial element of engagement of the body and mind with the world, of knowing the world through the body and the body through the world....wherever you go, there you are" (Wanderlust, Rebecca Solnit)

Friday, 4 January 2008

first thoughts

i wake up thinking about migration - the Arctic Tern making a bi-polar expedition each year. why all that effort? why that journey, flying from its Arctic breeding ground to the Antarctic and back again each year. perhaps it's for the daylight - the bird sees two summers each year. i'm thinking about the notion of 'everything changes' in relation to things repeating, cycling, having pattern. i like going back to the same places time and time again - each time i see more of it, i see it differently, and of course it is different. does the Arctic tern have this experience? - yes i imagine so. i heard from James M that warblers migrating to Africa go back to the very same bush every year, they are completely specific in their geography and sense of place.

in beginning to think about what the focus of my work will be, i know that i don't want to make live performance - i want to work instead with writing, image and sound primarily collected through walking.
i consider re-enacting my brother's 'burn-ups' in the 70s in his ford cortina at dunkerswell airfield, writing something in tyremarks on the expanse of concrete for the people in planes to see, or alien visitors, or migratory birds. i have other ideas too that don't feel right for this particular commission.

so i'm thinking about my work in Neroche both being about and in the landscape, and in relation to the other artists and the scheme's objectives, and also needing to fulfill the brief i have - to make something 'lasting'. my impulse is to move outwards from the landscape and to connect to it through 'elsewheres', through the moving elements of the place.

so i begin to think of Neroche being a place for me to map migration, to track what is passing through the landscape and to see this location as something porous, somewhere in conversation with other places and times. i also wonder if studying these transient elements might say something in relation to humans and our perception of place.