Before launching into Chapter 3 (Finding) of our residency, I like to share Sheryl Cheung’s ’Readings of a Landscape’ that emerged from her encounter with the location during the time of Landing and Grounding, see separate document.
During the time of grounding, the four baby swallows - now old enough to leave their nest - drew boisterous curves across the courtyard, linking the roof edge of the kitchen with that of the library with that of our sleeping quarters and back to the kitchen roof again and again. The directional forces of their flights reflect our movements on the ground.
Chapter 3: Findings
‘Finding entails the act and process of searching as well as the outcome, the thing discovered,’ (Girot in Corner, J. 1999; 63)
The following is A Montage of Disparate Entities
and consists of five textual findings, one visceral finding and two movement-propelled findings by each resident artist:
The time of finding was guided by the question: Is that which has been found an object, an integral part of the landscape, an experience, a question, a possibility? In retrospect our discovery emerged once we joined an integral part of the landscape
- with an experience,
- with a question,
- with a possibility and with reflections about objects.
During the time of searching my footing became/has been uncertain; it has been exhilarated by the promise of unknown territory; it has been fatigued by t(h)reading across shifty terrain; it has been exasperated by the predictability of encountering the already known, whilst looking for it’s other.
Textual Findings (1)
and Textual Findings (2)
Movement-propelled Findings (1)
Searchings do lead to discoveries.
Discoveries make themselves known by a moment of surprise
or the outcome of a systematic search. Discoveries share the ’I did not know that’:
a distinct quality of place; the door to an open possibility and/or the framework that supports one’s intuition.
Textual Findings (3)
Textual Findings (4)
By now we, resident artists, share the experience of being ‘in’ something. Our separate activities, experiences and observations are leading to emergences. Being synchronous in that we meet at mealtime and occasionally travel together, helps to alert us to the potential of a manifest moment, when all three previous stages become synthesized: A Founding.
Movement propelled Findings (2)
Coming back at 9.29am on the 23rd of May, I encountered a man seemingly talking to the trees. Once within hearing distance I realised the man was counting trees in sets of five. I sent a we chat message, wondering this observation might portend? Quyen responded from Hanoi. She suggested the man might be a cartographer, she recalled that children too count trees.
By 11.37am some trees had acquired yellow flags.
By 15.39 trees were being felled.
Visceral Findings (1)
We discover a shared question.
At the lower end of the trunk the felling of a tree begins with the shrieking of a saw followed by creaking sounds as fibres tear. Weighed down by the mass of the upper trunk’s crown and with more than half of their number already severed, the fibres hold on verticality is profoundly diminished. A couple of men pull a rope tied to the crown. The fibres stretch as they tear apart from each other, they groan and finally split.
We meet Hexiudong, Dongba priest and mediator between nature (Shu) and human. A possibility emerges, maybe together we can find a way of processing our experience. Hexiudong explains that any form of encounter concerning nature and human would only be meaningful if it took place at the source of water.
Textual Findings (5)
To be looking for a water source also makes sense for more domestic reasons: - we work in sight of the glacier; there is the proximity of the lake: Lashihai, where local fish comes from; there is the intricate irrigation system that lines and raises every road; and almost every late afternoon, we see Amma fetching drinking water from a well. And finally, as Hexiudong says and Timothy Morton writes, ’We all contain water in about the same ratio as Earth does, and salt water in the same ratio that the oceans do.’ (Morton. 51; 2011).
The first spring we visit is distant from the village and has become a tourist attraction. Rather than searching for another one we wait. We spent a morning in the Dongba library. In both, Dongba myth and Ovid’s tale, mortals take or fail to share what is beyond their need.
Movement-propelled Findings (3)
The following day, he takes us to a path off the local country road. A brick-making workshop; a power grid station and a pig farm line the path; the path leads us below the highway to a hollowed out mountain. Leaving the cavity behind us, we continue to climb up. Now we are walking alongside a small stream: part of it runs through a pipe and part of it runs freely. A small herd of cows and their calves graze in the woodlands. We clamber on following the sound of goats further up and find the source of the stream. We are traversing an integral part of the landscape.
Why would the tenor of the statement made by Erge ’The earth belongs to us’ be an ’evanescent’ discovery, a possibility; a fleeting sense of potential to someone like myself who experiences the earth as belonging to itself:
as an entity that cradles my walks (in the city as well as here);
as a detached observer (when amongst trees, fields, mountains and along rivers)
and as an aspiration (when watching/drawing seeds/seedlings turn into plants/fruit/flower/vegetable).
The mesh that informs my experience of an evanescent discovery; the ’I did not know’ response to Erge’s statement is shaped by an environment in which nature is a commodity and in which a sense of entitlement that has faith in human ingenuity to fix any harm done, prevails; in which personal growth needs self-made challenges and in which external influences prevail. As Sheryl noted, both of the myths mentioned above are set outdoors where mortals are often vulnerable to external influences.
By contrast, when sustenance is the goal, durational circular relationships form.
Lijiang Studio, 18th June 2018
References & Further Reading Material:
Corner, J. (1999) Recovering Landscape Princeton Architectural Press
Lippard, L. (1997) The Lure of the Local New Press, NY
Morton, T. (2011) Objects as Temporary Autonomous Zones, continent.1.3 (2011) 149-155
Morton, T. (2013) Hyperobjects University of Minnesota Press
Mueggler, E. (2011) The Paper Road, University of California Press
Ovid (1971), Metamorphoses, transl. F.J. Miller, Harvard University Press
Stewart K. in Gregg, M. et al (2010) The Affect Theory Reader Duke University Press
Stewart, K. (2013) Tactile Compositions available on https://www.academia.edu/4240807/Tactile_compositionsNot_For_DistributionNot_For_DistributionNot_For_Distribution_Tactile_compositionsNot_For_DistributionNot_For_Distribution
1. ‘Nearly every Dongba ritual act includes a meticulous accounting of and restitution for incursion upon the nonhuman world’ which are perceived as transgressions upon the initial contract between human and nature, two brothers with different mothers. (Mueggler. 2011; 97)