Bodily experience through texts
Latin hexameter poetry
Epic - Lucan
Homer - access to secrets of the universe
Extended mind theory – Andy Clarke
Fouré – language metaphors, predicated
Cognition – not brain bound – body too
Fleshy…embedded…emotional and physical
Affects you and creates the way you think
Eclogs – theogony – works and days (Hesiod)
Spreading beech – tree – weather – sciences
Lucretius – On the nature of things OOOlogy Object orientated ontology
Superhuman poetry added authority
Dislocation – materialism – agency of systems and objects
Materialist universe – soul material – dust motes
Virgil in Arcadia – refugees
o-o-o – object oriented environs – JJ Cohen
Georgics: agricultural manual - earthly things – what nature is?
Warfare – terra nullius
Is labour a great thing?
Terrible labour pervades everything - Orfeo and Eurydice
Inhuman Nature – JJ Cohen again
Grounding Knowledge – Christopher J Preston
Material Ecocriticism – Serenella Iovino
Systems: what is offering further agency of materials?
Affective repercussions of material ecocriticism
Works and days
Taming of nature – vines – troops
End of farmer
Vigil – Georgics – Peter Fallan
Longinus - Russell.D – Sublime
With Mary Quicke 21.2.18
Objects effecting/affecting our understanding of the environment
Philosophy – environmental ethics
How it frames your understanding how your perspective activates the text (Georgics)
18th Century influence on how we farm
Loop between how we read and how we engage
Civil war – transience
Memory attached to landscape
Memory housed in people but also in objects and environment
Farming museum – plough – objects forming landscape
Repeal of the corn laws – agricultural revolution… industrial revolution
Baltic ports -s erfs 1/3 of the price
Introduced reliance on other countries
Climate change – implements in soil
Soil cultures – tasting soil (Alfonso Borragan)
Microbial – outside of the cheeses – cloths/skins
Unseen world – different flavours of milk
Rumen – fermenting
Cheese starters – microbes – library of starters - stolen
Rind – microflora of place – specificity of place
Being of a place can be empowering
Farm support from EU – notion of farming FOR maintaining food production
Post-war – food security
Always buy from elsewhere – opposite of roman model
Public money – producing public goods: might be the environment/landscape/leisure/food supply/food security/quality
Food standards agency – no more raw milk?
1960s environmentalists versus farmers – reducing liberty?
Environmental goods – fallow/ crops supporting biodiversity
Timing of cropping spring/autumn
Nature – natura – intangible
1000 versions of nature
Expectations of landscapes
THIS LAND – soil grass and stories of
Land/community wider than Quicke’s
Cognitive framework – body/brain/world
Environment as responsible for memory
Mass urbanisation – changes objects that you can interact with
Attuned to landscape
Ideal roman was a farmersolidier
King Conatus – consul
J.Hector St John Crevecoeur – letters from an American farmer (library 973.3 DEC)
re-working of the Georgics – violent
Notes pre-meeting III
Soil- culture/nature – Natureculture Haraway
Fertiliser – blood and soil
“culturing’ chemical manipulation of soil – Jussi Parikka
“Hardware does not die – stashed away and retains its toxic materiality”
Anti-nostalgia – Braidotti
Haunting – Absence
Import – agricultural revolution
Mapping scales – google earth/ordinance survey/ soil samples – electron microscopy
Radical localism dating sublime anthropocene – agriculture/agricultural revolution/industrial revolution/nuclear
Shelley’s version of the Georgics – underworld lacking gods
Agricultural revolution – Jethro Tull
Not farming like Virgil but more like the Europoeans
Matthew Arnold – Empire focus of the 18th Century
Lucretius – micro/macro (always bring Lucretius)
Peter Fallan Georgics – Book 2 226
Edgelands – verges
Hesiod - Works and Days
Hesiod – topography of time/topographies
Seed – burying seeds
Alex Purves – Mary Quicke talking about Braley – swet
Ingesting materially connected
Virgil Series of Soil
Break ground with heavy oxen
Colours of soil
Crumbly soil – laying out the land
Those whose eyes watch everything miss nothing
Vineyards – legions lined up Civil War
Mars doesn’t know which way to turn (because it’s a civil war)
Lacuna – absence in text – unstable text
Tartara - Underworld
Radice in tartara tendit – roots reaching down to the underworld
Paratextuality - Edgelands
Genealogy of texts – from lots of notes to none
Civil wars – Newton St Cyre’s naming sites
Pepe Romanilios – Geo-philosophy
Geography of absence
Agricultural revolution caused the industrial revolution
Virgil – the Poet Laureate of the Anthropocene – Dan Richter
Daniel Richter – Duke University – American Agronomy
The Journal of You – Ginger Coons Workshop
The Vulnerable Distance
Exploring distances of post-human places, paying deep attention to the vulnerability of that experience. I question whether by making acknowledgement of that precarity (both personal and environmental) I can generate a deeper attentiveness to conditions of the anthropocene?
Vulnerability, distance, precarity, diminishment, openness, personal ingress, sublime and anthropocene (are these terms fit for purpose?)
Description of journal
The Vulnerable Distance is a journal dedicated to investigations of vulnerability within places redolent of the sublime anthropocene, with the aim of outlining potential uses of moments of ‘peak experience’ as a conduit for greater understanding of the precarity of the human condition in a post-human landscape. We are interested in submissions which playfully explore the beauty and horror of the sublime anthropocene, as a method for greater engagement and vulnerability. We are not limited by established academy definitions of the theories of the sublime and the anthropocene, rather we question their primacy and suggest new interpretations which we feel can be used more appropriately in this endeavour. We do not presume to speak on behalf of communities or non-human agents subjected to the destructive realities of an anthropocene, rather we suggest an attentiveness to a shared vulnerability, and an awareness of our own embodied subjectivities or privileges which affect our position.
We particularly welcome investigations of scenarios which use digital tools to facilitate possibilities for this and review the potential of using digital tools to mediate this experience for dissemination to a wider audience. These could include:
Context: Creating a site-specific VR art work at five locations along the south coast of the UK.
Bearing the sublime – what purpose can the sublime serve in the age of the anthropocene?
As Diana Taylor has observed:
Western culture, wedded to the word, whether written or spoken, enables language to usurp epistemic and explanatory power. Performance studies allows us to take seriously other forms of cultural expression as both praxis and episteme. Performance traditions also serve to store and transmit knowledge. Performance studies, additionally, functions as a wedge in the institutional understanding and organisation of knowledge. (Taylor in Schechner, 2002:7)
In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein – Fiona Sampson
They glimpse the Alps for the first time near Neuchatel, and Mary takes typically Romantic care to note the effects the mountains have on their human observers: They were an hundred miles distant, but reach so high in the heavens that they look like those accumulated clouds of dazzling white that arrange themselves on the horizon during summer. Their immensity staggers the imagination, and so far surpasses all conception, that it requires an effort of the understanding to believe that they are in fact mountains.
Arnold, B. 2016. Walking Home: the path as transect in an 800km autoethnographic enquiry. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London, Falmouth.
Armstrong, K., 2006. A Short History Of Myth, Main edition. ed. Canongate Books, Edinburgh.
Augé, M., 2008. Non Places: An Introduction to Supermodernity. Verso, London.
Bachelard, G., 1987. On Poetic imagination and reverie, Rev. ed. ed. Spring Pubns, Dallas, Tex.
Birkerts, S., 2006. The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age. Faber & Faber, New York.
Bishop, J., Roud, S., 2014. The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, UK ed. edition. ed. Penguin Classics, London.
Bloom, B., 2015. Petrosubjectivity: De-industrializing our sense of self. Breakdown Break Down Press, Ft. Wayne, IN.
Bohm, D., 2004. On Dialogue, 2 edition. ed. Routledge, London ; New York.
Bonnet, F.J., 2016. The Order of Sounds: A Sonorous Archipelago. Urbanomic Media Ltd, Oxford.
Bourriaud, 2009. The Radicant, First English print. ed. Lukas & Sternberg, New York.
Bourriaud, N., 2009. Utopics: Systems and Landmarks. JRP Ringier, Zürich.
Bradley, W., Esche, C., 2007. Art and Social Change: A Critical Reader, 01 edition. ed. Tate Publishing in association with Afterall, London : New York.
Broswimmer, F., 2002. ECOCIDE: A Short History of the Mass Extinction of Species. Pluto Press, London ; Sterling, Va.
Cardiff, J., 2006. Janet Cardiff: The Walk Book. Walther Konig, Cologne.
Chang, H., 2008. Autoethnography as method. Left Coast Press., California.
Clark, T.A., 2001. Distance & Proximity, First. ed. Pocketbooks., Edinburgh.
Collis, J.S., 1988. The Worm Forgives the Plough. Penguin Books Ltd.
Daadler, R., 2008. Here is always somewhere else: The disappearance of Bas Jan Ader. AgitPop & Cult Epics.
Davis, E. W., Jones, D, A., The Library of Ideas. City Edition Studio, Bristol.
Dean, T., Millar, J., 2005. Place, Art works. Thames & Hudson, London.
Demos, T.J., 2016. Decolonizing Nature - Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology. Sternberg Press, Berlin.
Demos, T.J., Irland, B., Naidus, B., Little, R., Heim, W., Haley, D., Collins, T., Goto, R., Lynes, K.G., 2016. Elemental: An Arts and Ecology Reader. Gaia Project Press, s.l.
Dillard, A., 2011. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, UK ed. edition. ed. Canterbury Press Norwich, Norwich (GB).
Dyer, G., 2013. Where Are You: A Book Of Maps That Will Leave You Completely Lost. Visual Editions, London.
Dylan Trigg, 2012. The memory of place : a phenomenology of the uncanny. Ohio University Press, Athens.
Edwards, D., 2000. Free to be Human: Intellectual Self-Defence in an Age of Illusions, 2Rev Ed edition. ed. Green Books, Totnes, Devon.
Eliasson, O., Eliasson, S.O., Waters, A., 2016. Studio Olafur Eliasson: The Kitchen, 01 edition. ed. Phaidon Press.
Ellis, C., 1966. The Pebbles on the Beach. Faber & Faber.
Eno, B., 1979. Oblique strategies: Over one hundred worthwhile dilemmas. [The Authors].
Evans, D. (Ed.), 2013. The art of walking: a field guide. Black Dog Publishing, London.
Fournier, A., 1953. The Wanderer. Anchor Doubleday, Printed in the United States of America.
Gee, G., 2011. Patience (after Sebald): a walk through the rings of saturn. Soda Pictures DVD.
Gilchrist, B., Joelson, J., Warr, T. (Eds.), 2015. Remote performances in nature and architecture. Ashgate Publishing, Farnham.
Griffin, J. (Ed.), 2009. Grizedale Arts: Adding Complexity to Confusion. Grizedale Arts, Coniston.
Guattari, F., 2005. The Three Ecologies, Second English print. ed. Continuum, London.
Harding, P., 2006. Mushroom Hunting, 1st Edition edition. ed. Collins, London.
Hawkes, J., 2012. A land. Collins, London.
Hawkes, J., 1954. Man On Earth. The Cresset Press.
Hoskins, W.G., 1955. The Making of the english landscape. Hodder & Stoughton.
Ingold, Tim, 2007. Lines; A Brief History. Routledge, Oxford.
Keiller, P., 2012. The possibility of life’s survival on the planet. Tate, London.
Keiller, P., 2011. Robinson in ruins. BFI.
Kester, G., 2013. Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art, Revised edition edition. ed. University of California Press, Berkeley, Calif.
Lambert, R., 2015. Wild Food Foraging in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Alison Hodge.
Laws, B., 2010. Collins Field Guide – Fields. Collins, London.
Macfarlane, R., 2015. Landmarks. Hamish Hamilton, London.
Macfarlane, R., 2013. The old ways: a journey on foot. Penguin, London.
Maleuvre, D., 2011. The Horizon; A history of our infinite longing. University of California Press, London.
Marsden, P., 2015. Rising Ground: A Search for the Spirit of Place. Granta Books.
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Morton, T., 2017. Humankind: Solidarity with Non-Human People. Verso, London ; New York.
Morton, T., 2016a. Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence. Columbia University Press, New York.
Morton, T., 2007. Ecology Without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. ; London.
Næss, A., 2016. Ecology of Wisdom. Penguin Classics.
Neddo, N., 2015. The Organic Artist: Make Your Own Paint, Paper, Pigments, Prints and More from Nature. Quarry Books, Beverly, MA.
Nesbitt, Ian., 2016. Ek-Uh-Nom-Iks, Primary, Nottingham.
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Sebald, W.G., 2002. The rings of Saturn. Vintage, London.
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We come to know so much about institutional life because of these failures of residence: the categories in which we are immersed as forms of life become explicit when you do not
quite inhabit them.
However, my distrust is well-founded: Swedish scholars Andreas Malm and Alf Hornborg, among others, highlight the manner in which the current framing of the Anthropocene blunts the distinctions between the people, nations, and collectives who drive the fossil-fuel economy and those who do not. The complex and paradoxical experiences of diverse people as humans-in-the-world, including the ongoing damage of colonial and imperialist agendas, can be lost when the narrative is collapsed to a universalizing species paradigm. As Malm
and Hornborg state, “a clique of white British men literally pointed steam-power as a weapon—on sea and land, boats and rails—against the best part of human-kind, from the Niger delta to the Yangzi delta, the Levant to Latin America.”8
Not all humans are equally implicated in the forces that created the disasters driving contemporary human-environmental crises, and I argue that not all humans are equally invited into the conceptual spaces where these disasters are theorized or responses to disaster formulated.
John Hartigan recently examined the prevalence of the terms “multispecies” and “Anthropocene” at the recent meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Washington, D.C. in December 2014. Noting the “overlapping concerns highlighted by these two keywords,”33 Hartigan was struck by the dominance of the word Anthropocene, rather than the term multispecies, throughout the conference presentations. Hartigan deems the Anthropocene a “charismatic mega-category,”34 which sweeps many competing narratives under its roof.
The first idea is “ethical relationality,” which in a 2010 talk he defined as: an enactment of ecological imagination. Ethical relationality doesn’t deny that we’re different, so it’s not a way to say we’re all the same. But it seeks to understand more deeply how our different histories and experiences position us in relation to each other. It puts those at the forefront: who you are, where you come from, what your commitments are, what your experiences have been. So, it’s a desire to acknowledge and honour the significance of the relationships we have with others, how our histories and experiences position us in relation to each other, and how our futures as people in the world are similarly tied together. It is an ethical imperative to see that despite our varied place-based cultures and knowledge systems, we
live in the world together and must constantly think and act with reference to those relationships.48
“ethic of historical consciousness”: This ethic holds that the past occurs simultaneously in the present and influences how we conceptualize the future.
Ultimately, what I am contesting are the ways in which well-meaning contemporary artists and academics recreate exploitative patterns from the past. The Anthropocene, like any theoretical category at play in Euro-Western contexts, is not innocent of such violence.
In order to resist the hegemonic tendencies of a universalizing paradigm like the Anthropocene, we need joyful and critical engagement through many forms of praxis. I see Indigenous thought and practice—including art—as critical sites of refraction of the current
whiteness of Anthropocene discourses.
It is interesting to consider moments at which one experiences the sublime - for me, my most intense and visceral moment was triggered several years ago, when I fell whilst walking in the Austrian Alps, which handily still offer the perfect backdrop for a taste of sublime terror and overwhelmed-ness.
I still have feelings of horror when I think about that moment, the ‘what-ifs’, but I also am drawn by the vertiginous glamour of those drops, and the thrill that we managed to survive it. My vulnerability, both physical and mental, mutates over time into bravado and aesthetic swooning.
What is time doing here?
It is removing me from the incandescence of the immediate moment, back from the literal edge and by doing so, it rewrites the story in my head. If I try hard to remember the actual moment or immediate aftermath of falling, I can remember a gauzy grey visual, a sweating of palms, symptoms akin to the moment preceding fainting (syncope). This version of events is deeply enmeshed in the physical sensation, the failing of overloaded senses and the inability to process.
With temporal distance, I can piece together the lurch in the stomach with my gaze down the scree to the valley below, the shaking in my legs with the dust on my boots and the hot grip of my daughter’s fingers in my hand with the horror that we might both have fallen. Now I have constructed a story to recount, I am removed from the danger, I can laugh at my audience’s worried looks and wait their turn to recount the time that they nearly died.
That moment, that glimpse of vulnerability is shrugged off and a carapace of self-assurance fills its place. And so, another traditional tale of the sublime enters the cannon: lowering alpine cliffs: check, moment of near death: check, jolly retelling of the tale: check, child involved: umm okay, we don’t normally let these ones through, check, and so on…
So what relevance does this theory, or this cannon, have today? Well, apart from being a woman and mother, not much in this story challenges Burke’s idea of the thrilling terror of the sublime, and the distance of time which hones this episode into an anecdote illustrates perfectly Kant’s preferred notion that the position of sublime experience was one of safe remove. This moment of clumsy alpinism, this experience of landscape doesn’t really speak to today’s global concerns, but rather seems lodged in a nineteenth century aesthetic.
What if we relocate the sublime? After all, this is a purely subjective idea. The historical constructs of landscape appreciation that I arrive with will not necessarily be shared by others. What if I find the sublime in a landscape of ruin, of ecological crisis, of man-made destruction?
If the 18th century readings and aesthetics of the sublime appeal to western mankind’s desire to feel small or insignificant, or powerful and contemplative, they still place mankind at a distance: separate from the immense indifference of nature, at the mercy of this vengeful force, or removed from the quotidian grime of industry, above it all. In this reading, the sublime indicates a quasi-colonial landscape redolent of Conrad’s Heart of darkness or a landscape to be subjugated. If, however, we locate the sublime within a post human milieu, we see that any recognition of a sublime moment must also reckon with the entanglement of humans with other species, technology and the environment.
We really enjoyed talking to you about your proposal last week and are delighted to confirm that we would like to commission you for b-side 2018. This offer is contingent on us being able to confirm access to the stadium site, establish power supply options and discuss any subsequent budget implications. We will be in touch in the new year to discuss and confirm details.
Assuming at this stage that we can use the site, please can you confirm if you are happy to accept our offer and will be available to join us for the R&D days (23&24 March - further details soon).
I want to reanimate the history and stories of the dramatic Portland Stadium Bowl, situated in a former quarry next to the Young Offenders' Institution (formerly the Borstal) in the village of Grove. Using focussed subwoofer speakers, I want to give visitors the sensation of being on a football pitch cheered on by the roar of 5000 ghostly supporters, where now there only stand terraces of trees. That Portland has such a grandiose amphitheatre, now rarely used, seems a metaphor for the quietened industries of the island, and the quarrymen whose hands now lie idle, mirrored by the forced inactivity of the young men residing at the Institute in Grove.
Using stories of the residents of the Young Offenders Institute past and present, I want to explore what dreams and realities are represented both by the space and the beautiful game. Surely every young footballing child dreams of scoring in front of a home crowd, with the attendant visceral and deafening aural wall of sound surrounding them?
The sublime immersion of this sonic experience would be in stark contrast to the empty and echoing space, scooped out of the island's structure, nestled and secret. The piece would offer a visual and auditory reminder of the slippage between the childhood dreams and the reality of a life inside.
Idea in more detail: 500 words
When visiting Portland as an exhibiting artist for 2016's B-Side festival, I was struck by the pervading atmosphere layers of history have lent the island, captured within its rocks, its structures, its various populations. The Portland Stadium Bowl, once known as the Quarry Stadium or the Borstal Stadium (http://www.portlandhistory.co.uk/portland-stadium-bowl.html), like many locations on Portland, evokes these narratives in a microcosm. The histories of industrial quarrying, the stories of those serving time, refrains of absence and presence are reiterated in its physical construction and location.
Fascinated by the grandeur and epic scale of its construction, I was drawn to the stories of those who created and played in the Stadium; the dreams it represented. From the ambitions of Burt Bridges, the 1931 Borstal officer and physical training instructor who first mooted its ambitious transformation, the Stadium offered a space for to the thwarted childhood dreams of the young offenders. For these young men, who levelled the quarry into a pitch and built the terraces, scoring goals offered a possible transcendence of physical incarceration through the realisation of sporting excellence.
After entering through the gates opposite the church, the visitor will walk down the ramp towards the pitch. Direct sight of the pitch could be screened off on the right and the last stretch of the journey could be through a darkened space (expanding temporary tunnels). Ideally, I would want the sonic experience to be limited until the last moment, so am considering the use of noise-cancelling headphones for the walk down to the pitch. The visitor would then be free to enter the pitch and walk to the centre, to taste the full sonic experience of playing before a noisy crowd (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUZRpkmctrc).
If possible I would love to arrange for one or more football matches to take place during the festival period so that the players can bathe in the sonic experience. This could be opened up to visiting teams; school teams or away teams that could be brought to play there. I plan to document the site and matches during the festival period to create an additional film work. Augmenting this work would be interviews and archival material from current and previous players and residents of the Young Offenders Institute, exploring the metaphorical importance of this space of physical freedom.
Arts practice: 300 words
Slightly embarrassed by my hankerings after the romantic sublime and simultaneously annoyed by its western, male-dominated, solitary overtones, so contrary to my own experiences of place, I became interested in generating physical, intuitive and often collaborative explorations of site, a layered and multi-faceted experience of place. The collective experience and simultaneous individual experiences offer fascinating potential cartographies of the ineffably distant and the uncomfortably close. Through performative explorations of sites, chosen for their potential representation of the anthropocentric sublime and activations of their history, you and I, as activator, audience or observer can come to a more intimate and embodied knowledge of a site.
In my recent project, ‘Crazywell’, I circled an old Dartmoor myth of a bottomless pool, whose depth villagers tried to gauge using church bell ropes. For the performance, groups were invited to walk together to Crazywell pool to be given the ends of ropes to pull upon, a communal effort required in four directions, to raise the sunken ropes and bell. I wanted to evoke an atmosphere of mystery and shared exertion, a communal tale telling. ‘Not to be Taken’, explored the industrial mining of arsenic along the Tamar Valley, and the exploitation of mineral resources both in digital media, its representation in video games and the hyperobjective tracery of arsenic through William Morris textiles.
In ‘Lacuna: Colour of Distance’ (shown at b-side 2016 as part of Weather Station by OSR projects), I used the prism of the orb to explore and situate myself within the industrially sublime landscape of Cornwall’s china clay industry, using the diminutive scale of my body in the sculpted landscape as a visual marker or scar of the Anthropocene.