Blog

The cutting room floor.

Trail Mix is back on Source FM, and coming soon to a field, a gallery and a library near you…

Hello, As some of you may know, Trail Mix has emerged from the shadows of my practice-based PhD into the world via Source FM, Resonance FM, End of The Road Festival and elsewhere. This is a new blog for collecting resource materials and notes on the various outcomes of following the Trail. I am an artist who started with walking and kept going, to here somewhere, this is currently where I’m at…

Trail Mix[ED]. Ledger Lines. Vol. 2.

 

Track 1. Boards of Canada: Come to Dust.

Audio A. Sample Source: Mary Stuart interview with Chicago Institute of Art.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYMXWOtfFgk

Audio B. Sample Source: Mary Stuart promotional video for Venice Biennial 2017.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqFHm2S36cE&t=6s

Reading 1: The Oldest Road. Fay Godwin. P 36.

Bed track: Brian Eno: Lizard Point.

Track 2. Sea Oleena: Paths.

Reading 2: Overlay, Lucy Lippard. P 56 – 60.

Audio C. Sample Source: Mary Stuart promotional video for Venice Biennial 2017.

Track 3. Peter Broderick: An Ending.

Track 4. Grouper: Lighthouse.

Audio E. Reading: A Sleepwalk on the Severn, Alice Oswald.

Track 5. Devon Loch: Avon.

Track 6a. Devon Loch: Somnal (Yaard Remix).

Audio F. Reading: Ledger Lines Exhibition Catalogue, essay by Sophie Rickett.

Track 6b. Devon Loch: Somnal (Yaard Remix). Cont…

Audio G. Reading: Ledger Lines Exhibition Catalogue, essay by Sophie Rickett. Cont…

Track 7. Boards of Canada: Sundown.

Track 8. Leafcutter John: Music Under The Water.

Audio H. Reading: To a River Archive. Extracts.

Track 9. Broadway Project: Beauty (The Sea).

Audio I. Sample Source: Bram Thomas Arnold in conversation with artist Abigail Reynolds recorded in her Porthmeor Studio, St. Ives.

LedgerLines2

Cutting Room Floor 1

 

All readings by Bram Thomas Arnold unless otherwise stated.

 

Place Exploration

Use the link at the bottom to download the Application Form!

PLACE EXPLORATION.

A RESIDENCY PROJECT CONVENED BY BRAM THOMAS ARNOLD WITH DAVIS&JONES.

HOSTED AT KESTLE BARTON, LIZARD, CORNWALL. NOVEMBER 2017.

What is this?

PLACE EXPLORATION is an artist-led residency, a radical workshop, an opportunity to challenge and reinterpret your practice.

PLACE EXPLORATION  is a 5 day practice-based research residency into the depths of place at Kestle Barton, whereby place is defined as something that is constructed by a washing back and forth between the past and the future, between the self and the collective, as the shoreline is perpetually recomposed by the sea.

PLACE EXPLORATION will examine Kestle Barton through ecological and autoethnographic lenses: visiting artists will be invited to ruminate upon the idea of the self in and of a place, whereby both the self and the place are compositions of social, cultural and personal histories.

Through workshops, lectures, peer-to-peer debate, screenings and interactions with the land, artists will be invited to use the place to unpick their practice, and use their practice to unpick the place. The workshops will be lead by Dr. Bram Thomas Arnold, an artist, a pedestrian and a writer and the artist duo Davis & Jones whose specialism lies in socially engaged practice. Participants will be actively encouraged to lead workshops of their own or give short lectures on their practice…

The residency is free to apply to and to attend, see download for full details.

Who is it for?

Artists and creative practitioners who are interested in notions of place, being and the self amidst socially engaged practice, for as Jean Luc Nancy put it “being is with, otherwise nothing exists”. In this sense an artist that is interested in place is intrinsically interested in being in and of that place both within and beyond notions of self and practice.

PLACE EXPLORATION is for those willing to expose their practice to a little risk, to a stepping out of the comfort zone and into liminal space between places, into the gaps between disciplines and mediums, the gaps between boundaries and divisions…

When and where might this be?

It is in the depths of November 4th – 10th. Arriving the 4/5th November ready for a group meal on the Sunday evening. Departing first thing Friday morning.

Kestle Barton is an ancient farmstead set in fields and woods high above Frenchman’s Creek and the Helford River, on The Lizard, West Cornwall.  Not so long ago, the farm buildings were sinking into a beautiful and ruinous old age. Architect Alison Bunning has ensured their conservation using cob; lime plasters, paint and render; and scantle slate.

http://www.kestlebarton.co.uk/about/

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS:

30 / 09 / 2017

Place_Exploration_draft_1

The Conversation…

What’s the point of art?

File 20170506 19106 3v6ipl
Contemporary sculpture – but why bother?
Author provided

Derek Hodgson, University of York

One of the great paradoxes of human endeavour is why so much time and effort is spent on creating things and indulging in behaviour with no obvious survival value – behaviour otherwise known as art.

Attempting to shed light on this issue is problematic because first we must define precisely what art is. We can start by looking at how art, or the arts, were practised by early humans during the Upper Palaeolithic period, 40,000 to 12,000 years ago, and immediately thereafter.

This period is a far longer stretch of human history than the “modern” age and so how the arts were practised during it should serve as the starting point for any viable explanation. And while art in the modern world is often exploited as a means of expressing individualism, during most of cultural evolution it was utilised by small hunter-gatherer groups as a means of articulating social norms among most, if not all, members of a community.

The arts are special

Why should individuals engage in a preoccupation that requires significant effort, effort that could be better directed towards more immediately gainful activities, such as the search for food or other vital resources? One clue comes from the fact that art objects have special resonance because they come into being through human agency. This involves considerable emotional investment and, consequently, art acts as a crucial node in the complex web of things that make up a culture.

The time and effort committed to making art suggests such behaviour may be a means of signalling to other members of a group. Paradoxically, the very fact that art remains inscrutable and has little obvious practical value is precisely what makes it important for assessing whether a person making art can be regarded as a trustworthy member of a group. In short, art provided a “costly signal” (altruistic behaviour that indirectly benefits the individual by establishing a reputation) for monitoring group allegiance and managing a trust network that weeded out freeloaders.

When combined with ritual, which is often the case, art becomes an even more potent symbol. The notion that it can act as a vehicle for costly signalling is bolstered by the fact that art objects were regularly destroyed or defaced soon after being produced. This suggests that it was the process of making, rather than the final product, that was most significant.

Signals.
Rhinoceros depiction, Chauvet cave (Inocybe: Public domain). Therianthrope with lion and human-like features (JDuckeck: Public Domain). Flute from Germany (José-Manuel Benito Álvarez: Creative Commons Attribution).

Though evidence of the arts serving this purpose exists before the Upper Palaeolithic, the surviving examples are controversial as they are few and far between. Not so from around 40,000 years ago, when art became much more complex, multifaceted and robust.

The dawn of art

Why was this? Part of the answer seems to be that population rates were on the rise leading to a growth in trade networks. This in turn meant that goods were regularly exchanged at sites where large numbers of people met at particular times of the year.

In such large temporary assemblies, individuals would not have known each other well, so engaging in making art objects potentially provided a means of facilitating trust. Such “meaningless” behaviour suggests to those involved that if a person is willing to spend time and energy engaging in activities of this type, they are more likely to be reliable. Indeed, despite the time and effort expended communally to attain such an opaque goal, making and doing things together in such a way produces a sense of well-being and belonging. Emotional bonding is thereby encouraged that helps offset residual hostility towards unfamiliar others.

Research indicates that when populations expand beyond 150-300 individuals, instability ensues, leading to new groups budding-off from the original community. This is thought to be because the human brain is unable to keep track of allegiances when that number is exceeded. Such splintering seems to have been a regular occurrence among early hunter-gatherers.

Following the Upper Palaeolithic, however, clans began to form settled communities – probably due to the attraction of sites highlighted by art – that expanded beyond this 150-300 limit. Because of this, it was even more vital to have a mechanism for promoting trust among individuals who were unable to keep track of everyone they were living around. Art was well placed to fill this role.

When the arts settled down

So, although art began to function as a form of social cement during the Upper Palaeolithic, this “function” became increasingly crucial during the early Neolithic when communities began to live in large stable settlements.

Göbekli Tepe showing ‘temple’ complex and monoliths. Teomancimit: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

A transitional phase can be found at the 12,000-year-old site of Göbekli Tepe (in south-eastern Turkey). Here, dispersed hunter-gatherer groups met to form relatively large, but temporary, communities at auspicious times of the year when they engaged in rituals. This site is believed to have served as a “temple” and consists of huge monoliths with engraved reliefs of animals that required considerable effort to produce.

What is particularly fascinating is that, as a costly signal, monumental art of this kind appeared before the onset of settled agricultural communities. A finding that goes against received wisdom. This suggests that practical innovations, such as the ability to develop crops, were a spin-off from large gatherings of people who came together to meet and celebrate by indulging in “non-functional” activities. In short, it can be argued that art created civilisation, not the other way round.

Artist’s impression of Catalhöyük. Wolfgang Sauber: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International Licence.

The process of forming large settled communities eventually gave rise to one of the first towns – namely, Catalhöyük in southern Turkey. This site dates back 9,000 years and had a resident population of around 5,000. Crucially, the art was seamlessly integrated into the domestic lives of the community.

Moreover, at both Göbekli Tepe and Catalhöyük, the destruction and renewal of art objects occurred on a regular basis. For example, despite the effort expended in constructing the “temples” at Göbekli Tepe, the structures were often deliberately back-filled. A costly signal if ever there was one. Similarly, at Catalhöyük wall paintings were regularly whitewashed and repainted and “sculptures” often underwent a process of destruction and renewal.

Mock-up of domestic interior of Catalhöyük house illustrating the importance of art to everyday life. Elelicht: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence.

During the Neolithic, when more settled communities sprang up, the arts became a convenient means of signalling community allegiance as settlements began to compete with one another. It was a glue that held people together.

The ConversationAlthough conserving some of the features that typify ancient arts, modern Western art is now more concerned with the finished product than the process. Yet the arts in the modern world can still be regarded as a costly signal that is exploited as a way of gaining status within a particular social hierarchy.

Derek Hodgson, Research Associate, University of York

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

AF&AN. Dartmoor. 2017.

A script performed a bit like this, on Dartmoor, 11th June, 2017.

N o t e s   A f t e r  6   Y e a r s  o f   W a n d e r i n g.

Bram Thomas Arnold.

1.

nature /na-cher/ n (often with cap) the power that creates and regulates the world; all the natural phenomena created by this power, including plants, animals, landscape etc as distinct from people; the power of growth; the established order of things; the cosmos; the external world, esp as untouched by man [ … ] (Chambers Dictionary, 2006, p1004) (that last italicization is mine).

Language is tricky though isn’t it. Fluid, littered with wicked problems, ever changing. It is simultaneously that first barrier between the self and the world, the only bridge off our own small island of consciousness and out into that great swirling world of interconnections, synapses, matter, crows and trees, sky and rain. The trouble is, as soon as you label something, as you do with language, these 26 symbols, an invention co-created by generations, you inherently label it as something other, something over there, something not me, something else.

So this is Dartmoor, that is Dartmoor, it is also a ‘National Park’, the idea of wilderness borrowed from that great country a little further out west. Dart, the celtic word for Oak, Oakmore, where the secret sessiles cluster in the windswept valleys, where the power of mystery lingers and this invented border delineated on maps and by physical interventions in the landscape, these thresholds, offering the ability to footstep into history and myth. 6 years ago I moved to Dartington, a small village nestled in the crook of the River Dart, that flows off the moor and down into the tide line. Actions For & Against Nature emerged over the course of walking and re-walking a given line, a transect, drawn, walked and talked into being, from my front door in that village, up green lanes and horse cracked paths, past four pheasant cocks in the morning light and up, over the A38 and onto the scruff and scrap of the pathless moors. But only ever to that edge, that threshold, an 18 mile round trip there and back again. Reading Poetry to Rocks happened almost by mistake, happened for no one but the rocks, the lichen, the wind and the kestrel, head held steady against the wind. One Action every nine miles. Reading Poetry to Rocks, Throwing Rocks at Trees, Reading Particle Physics to a River, Giving names to Grass blades, and then later, Learning to Translate Lithuanian, Explaining Power to a Pipeline, and then later still Swearing an Oath at a Scottish Glen, A Lover Argues with an Ash Tree, Asking Questions of a Quayside…

4.

Actions For And Against Nature, whilst initially conceived as a way of crossing this bridge, is really about pointing at all these labels we have created and screaming ‘THERE IS NO GAP BETWIXT US!’ It’s a part of me, and it’s a part of you, and it’s a part of that grass blade and it’s a part of that tree, a part of that building, and that town hall. The Actions are therefore for ecology, and against the term Nature, pointing and probing at its problems and the problems it has caused us. This term nature, older than that, but turned towards this thing, this wildness, outdoorness, this wilderness with the rise of the enlightenment and consecrated thus during the Romantic period, the evolution of leisure time and the need for places to go, to make all that smog worthwhile. “The Material world, or its collective objects or phenomena, the features and products of the earth itself, as contrasted with those of human civilization. 1622.”

The Actions have had their minor ventures into the world, a group show at the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World, is there a synthetic one somewhere, did I miss a meeting…, where I had to ease off on throwing rocks for that old delicacy of the 21st century, health and safety reasons. Throwing Pine Needles at Pine Trees in Haldon Forest, that false bliss, an exhibition in a room in which, once a year, the Forestry Commission butcher the Deer who spread like wildfire, unchecked in this new form of naturalism. Where the trees are felled, driven down to Plymouth and exported for processing, under whose canopy no ecosystem can grow but for one insect, one maggot, that consumes a single pine needle over a seven year intercourse…

‘I hate these pine trees, I hate ‘em’, dark forboding places, littered with scandi-noir and blair witch shadows I hate them,… And I do, and I don’t. They make comfortable, quiet, dry spots for wild camping, a nest of needles in dark nooks, they are most entertaining to cycle through on a mountain bike. And yet, from a distant hillside, with their deep straight lines, I can’t help but be reminded of troops aligned for battle, or of colonial cartographers, divvying up Africa with a ruler and a setsquare. The colonization of a form of nature that will have to be rescinded if we are to develop a comfortable new paradigm for the future.

6.

All the while I am shouting from my childhood fear of the dark encroaching pines and their imported, plantation-like presence. Their socio-political cause, the disaster of these pine trees on these hillsides. And yet I know full well, as Thomas Wolfe, author of the American dream, put it, ‘you can’t go home again’ (1939), that conservation is a flawed project, that it is really a conversation; for to which ‘natural state’ do you wish to return? In Madagascar, or in Malawi, or in one imagines, any community where both life and death are so much more fecund, there is no word for conservation, there is no green movement, only imported solutions for imported problems.

7.

Nature. The word hangs before us, an immediate separate entity that we then entrench with an almost endless series of synonyms and linguistic pirouettes: countryside, wildness, wilderness, The Great Outdoors, we further elaborate and name all the things within it from rocks to books, trees to brooks. Nature, as discussed by Timothy Morton is a great metonymic phrase that we have forgotten we are part of and Morton ‘ … argues that the very idea of “nature” which so many hold dear will have to wither away in an “ecological” state of human society’ (2007, 1).

When you are physically there with it though, feet touching earth, pinned to mud by gravity, you are part of it, as Pollock once said in answer to a question: ‘ … I am nature’ I AM NATURE, I AM NATURE. (Seckler, 1964). The atoms on your fingertips mingle with the feather you’re holding, you are entwined and deeply involved, you are together, one, there is no barrier, no bridge. The case for ecology without nature is about trying to make us aware that the bridge off each of our islands was not built by us. It is neither a separate entity nor a separating force, it is more akin to a synaptic cleft that draws us out into the world, it is not there as a separate ‘thing’ at all. We are part of ecology, it is within us and around us, in our streets and homes, in the cities we’ve built and the industrial wastelands we’ve walked away from. That there is no Nature in that separated sense, but as with all societies it was a necessary myth, a driving force behind the scientific and industrial revolutions, without its construction we would never have all this, and we would never have learned to see how problematic our own successes can be.

8.

Didier Maleuvre has built a theory of the history of Western Civilisation wherein the horizon is the driving life force of this notion of progress, this myth of progress. “In evolutionary terms, a cultural form such as a myth tends to endure when it tends to bolster the institutions and beliefs of its society. Stories of no social value whatsoever have the shelf life of anecdotes; those that promote communal permanence grow into myths.” Nature, the idea of a separate entity grew into a myth that drove us through the 20th century to ever higher and more intricate forms of existence, but the place we have arrived at once again is that horizon we left long ago, a place where all things are delicately interconnected and there is no you nor me, no them, there is only us. To follow from Jean Luc Nancy, Being is with, otherwise nothing exists. Or, to go back to Maleuvre again “The limits we perceive are the limits we set before ourselves, and those limits move in time, with us, the perceivers.” How easily we forget the horizon is made by the eye.

9.

My work has burrowed my self into the web of arguments and propositions offered by quantum physics.3 That branch of science that leads us back, through the uroboros through the snakes tail and back, to the tangs of Eastern Mysticism, the tao of physics, “wherein it is possible to encounter statements where it is almost impossible to say whether they have been by physicists or Eastern mystics”. The lack of constancy of things, at the quantum level, where all matter changes its mind under the right sort of microscope, has left me with so little certainty that even as an argument is released into the world it is countered and contradicted by my next action, my next phrase, my next move. As I finished Swearing an Oath to a Scottish Glen, a text that promises almost Tibetan levels of tranquility and peaceful presence …

I hereby undertake not to remove from Glen Nevis, nor to mark, deface, nor bring injury to in any way, any tree, brook, stream, stone or animal: to harm neither sentient being nor physical presence residing therein or belonging to its custody. I undertake not to leave in my wake any foreign body, nor kindle hostile fire nor flame within, and not to smoke within the Glen. I promise to obey all the rules of the Glen, to adhere to pathways, and respect the property and prosperity of others therein, to plan ahead and leave no trace behind.

… I closed the book from which I read the oath and accidentally kill an insect, immediately blackening the oath I have only just finished uttering. Later on I throw rocks at trees, and later on still, a friend asks me, with concern in her voice, ‘Do you hit them? Do you harm them?’

Poetry. And art. Or the poetry of art… A way of wrapping the bridge, between the self and the world out there where nature supposedly is, in wry jokes and opaque riddles, and beauty, binding us to it and the beyond in knots of words that drip with incongruous honey. It is a cycle of creating a problem and then trying to resolve it, catching a shadow in a glass only to let it go again. It is the Romantic in me who finally found time after Reading Poetry to Rocks, to climb a hill away and alone, in Glen Nevis, during a commission for Resonance FM and the Edinburgh International Art Festival, to serenade the sky with half remembered lyrics from my favourite obscure pop songs. ‘A bird you would have loved brought the sky down, but it was worthless to hear it without you around … ’ or ‘say what you will, but you should understand there are things in this world, that you can’t understand, not in a million years …’ All this could only happen after walking, clearing the mind, falling in a bog up to my thighs and dropping my digital recorder in a stream so that of this act, precisely nothing remains. The constant state of imbalance that walking embodies, between one step and the next, a comfortable metaphor for thinking and acting through a process.

11.

Art is contradictory, intrinsically and purposefully problematic, it is a state of play in constant flux, a conversation between the past and the future of human society played out in the present. The only time we have is now, or now, or now, or now… how soon is… when could be more important than now.                                       Now.                          Now.        Now.

12.

The Actions are Romantic, and yet the Actions are also conceptual. They are linguistically restrained in their titles: each Action (A) having to be followed by a form of content (C), an instruction that is directive (D) and a subject (S) upon which this sequence can be enacted. But after a walk, and a day and a night on a mountainside at the end of a week spent in the Glen being too busy to look at it, new Actions announced themselves and took place, just between me and nature in a series of moments that were filled with contradiction and futility and yet somehow found space for hope. I blew raspberries at the bog which claimed me thigh deep whilst in between shouting profanities at it (‘YOU CALL YOURSELF A BOG!! IA’VE SEEN BOGS THA’ COUL’ SWALLO’ A HOUSE! UPTA MA THIGHS, YOU’RE PATHETIC … ’), and I said hello to the high heather moors, whispering sweet nothings to them and their bees high on the flanks of An Gearanach in the so called Ring of Steall.

This melding, of Romantic disposition with Conceptual restriction, has been uncovered by Jorg Heiser in the work of Bas Jan Ader and a collection of other artists brought together in 2007 in an exhibition called Romantic Conceptualism. Heiser defines Romantic Conceptualism as holding an ‘interesting tension: using particularly few aesthetic interventions or conceptual instructions, it opens up a particularly large number of possibilities for thinking beyond this choice’ (2007 p149). The foundations of Actions For and Against Nature are bound up in this quote. The Actions that took place in Scotland are the start of a series that is as endless as the metonymic environment we continue to create around us and live in.  

Towards an ecological form of subjectivity then, and a conclusion to this talk… Let’s momentarily take a step back to the process of classification – a process intrinsic to such things as academic conferences aimed at discussing certain parts of a given realm – that is bound up with Enlightenment processes of natural history and taxonomy. Evolution is an ongoing process: one cannot cut oneself out of history in order to catch a definite moment when something was certain, the procedures of taxonomical classification, as natural history has portrayed them, generally involve the death of the individual thing being classified. Our place in the scheme of things is less certain than this, for the scheme of things is always drawn up from a non-existent outside, an impossible objective position, for “no discourse is truly objective” as Morton points out, (Morton 2013: 4), primarily because discourse is a live, active thing. Under the terms of an ecological form of subjectivity, which my practice is stepping toward, we are all inside the picture frame, there is no outside from which to take an objective position.

I am an artist who started with walking, and kept going, I am not however, a Walking Artist, a phrase I find problematic, a step towards the classification of a dead thing, a form of limitation in the same way one could be prescribed a painter, from the outside, as though said painter never drew, nor wrote, nor slept, nor did anything else. This defining, or process of distilling, that the term Walking Artist sets out to achieve is something I find problematic because there is never a point at which a living individual can be gathered up and extracted from their surroundings and said to be categorically something particular. If they, as live beings, are in constant contact with their lived surroundings, which they most certainly are, then they too are in constant flux, along with the wind and the weather, the news and the gossip. Today I may go for a walk, tomorrow I may set pen to paper, the next day I will most likely do something completely other to this and so the taxonomic purpose of constraining oneself to being a walking artist falls down. I am simply an artist who started with walking and kept going, down the lane and into the field, or into performance, drawing and writing, or politics, philosophy and then perhaps down the pub.

And yet connections and collections are useful things: it is the supposition that they are terminal that is problematic. Categories are an attempt to create walls and borderlines in situations where only yet to be noted connections exist, a thickening web of tracery and fine lines. Through my recent PhD and its pursuit of an autoethnographic transect I have found shadows of my self in unexpected places, places to which I would never have come were it not for the pursuit of this idea, this leads me to believe that one could find these connections anywhere, that each of our selves, seemingly so definite and certain, could be reconstructed out of material as yet unknown to us. Walking Home was an 800km walk from London to St. Gallen, Switzerland, developed within me a sense of humility in light of this discovery that the Actions also aim to embody, through their collective weight, for alone each Action would vanish traceless, it is their collective will I am looking to establish. The trans-disciplinary nature of my practice and research, as opposed to inter-disciplinary, emerges through the supposition that inter processes submit to disciplinary boundaries, whereas trans-disciplinary processes transcend those societal walls and borderlines.

I am often in my artwork, an act increasing in its intentionality. For there is always an ‘I’, active in any given thing. That self that I am working with though, has taken steps toward a more Guattarian interpretation of self that is interdependent with and constructed by the multiple scenarios of political, social and personal memory. This ecological form of subjectivity there is a constant form of revision and evolution ongoing under the banner of self: our mistake is to too often presume that our selves are constant. In The Three Ecologies Guattari argues, with some sense of the desperate nature of the task, the urgency of it, that “ecology must stop being associated with the image of a small nature-loving minority or with qualified specialists” (2005: 52): that the etymological root of eco must be redrawn in our contemporary world.

The self through Guattari’s definition is necessarily in a state of constant change and subject to the terms of ecology, for eco is the Greek word for home and home is a useful analogy for understanding the self under the terms of an ecological subjectivity. A home or a self is composed of things we need, things we really wanted once, cluttered with things we used to like, mingled with new bits and pieces, a bin in the corner, sunlight dripping through the dust cutting a new pattern upon the patina of our lives: that light, that dust and those things, subtly changing daily.

The Home toward which I spent a number of weeks travelling in the summer of 2009 was not made of bricks and mortar, piled on a Swiss hillside, but was instead the flesh and blood that carried my fathers ashes over a physical transect. The walking, the talking, the conversations, the reading and revisiting of my PhD have constructed an ecologic form of subjectivity that I am trying to wrestle from the shadows. A home and a self rattled by the wind, remade by the constantly changing climate and the memories in the loft, stacked upon its shelves, amidst the guests around the dining table and the conversation taking place, remade and reformed like the shoreline is reconstituted by the tide twice daily. In this process they have contributed a small step towards the ethico-aesthetic paradigm that Guattari strives towards through The Three Ecologies in which he concludes that individuals “must become both more united and increasingly different” (2005: 69).

If as Bourriaud states in The Radicant we have come to be “in a world that records as quickly as it produces”, the notion of the autoethnographic transect offers artists and others a position from which to construct ways of navigating a world bereft of terra incognita, a world where everything is mapped, recorded and accounted for, apart from ones own particular position within it (2009: 88 – 120). Thomas A Clark wrote in 1988: “There are walks on which we tread in the footsteps of others, walks on which we strike out entirely for ourselves. […] There are things we will never see, unless we walk to them” (Clark 2001: 16). It is in this contradictory state the work of this thesis sits, tackling the problem of what to do when, and whilst knowing I want to tell you something, conceding it is something that cannot be told. That the Actions are simultaneously both for and against Nature, is their strength, the way they contradict futile hope, find hope in futile contradictions and hopefully in the end, contradict the futility of it all.

The self can only really be defined by that which surrounds it: like the Magellan Cloud, that object in the sky of the southern hemisphere, that on a clear night can only be seen if you do not look directly at it. It is a deep space object whose darkness in the sky is too heavy for the eye to see, but look just beside it, and the eye can make out this form, darker than the darkness. The best way to talk about one’s self is to look just beside it, to see what it touches, to see where the edges shimmer and to thus arrive at some form of definition of the thing, catching it in each moment anew.