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Residency fieldnotes (maj & nik - DRAFT)


  • Post retreat rest & reset
  • Setup working space
  • Walking, listening, foraging

(augmented) multisensory attunement

  • listening to the island and its inhabitants while being still and in motion
  • changes in birdsong throughout the day and in different parts of the island
  • a range of sounds of flight (swans and their gravity defying labour, flutttering of songbirds, collective composition of geese…)
  • tactile vibrations from stones (particularly the stone where the first mental hospital was built)
  • sudden rustlings of larger animals (deer, snakes, badgers…)
  • persistent drone of human activity (ships, planes, drones, quad bikes, motorised transport carts…)
  • saturday night techno & eurovision in the accommodation wing
  • the sharp punctuation of dogs barking, humans laughing, kids screeching…
  • a polyphony of rhythms, sound in overlap, quieting after sunset, never becoming completely silent. general murmur, background noise, persistent hum.
  • watching the island
  • interplay between sunlight and swarming insects (clouds of midges in particular)
  • long, slow transitions as light and colour drift at dawn and dusk
  • viridian greens of spring growth
  • evidence of drought in cracked mosses and brittle lichen
  • daily changes in foliage of trees and flowering plants (the island growing more lush and full of life each day)
  • tick-hotspots (dry leaves and tall grasses in warm and moist spots)
  • meadows changing colours, as different flowers come into bloom (gradients of blue, green, purple, yellow and white)
  • tasting the island
  • allium schorodoprasum (viking leek / sand leek) by comparison, allium ampeloprasum commonly known as wild leek or broadleaf wild leek when growing wild, has been differentiated into four cultivated vegetables, leek, elephant garlic, kurrat and Persian leek.
  • allium schoenoprasum (chive like)
  • allium ursinum (ramson)
  • pine tips
  • dandelions
  • nettles (Urtica dioica)
  • wood sorrel
  • smelling the island
  • from bitter green scents of early spring when we arrived, to the pollen-heavy scent of flowering trees and bushes in under a week
  • south of the island (the hazel forest) —fresh and herbaceous, while the north is more resinous and dry (pine forest)
  • the coast — swampy, decaying plant matter with a salty tinge of brackish water
  • middle of the island — floral, smoky, heavy cooking smells wafting from the restaurant, boats and houses; compost heaps and dust
  • recordings
  • ambient recordings at dawn and dusk
  • texture and microscopic recordings during the day (ant hills, bees, lichen…)
  • photographs (mostly landscape in its diverse textures…)
  • other
  • documentation from the retreat (notes, photographs)
  • conversations about possible explorations and manifestations of the residency
  • noticing the difference in noise levels when the tourists “hordes” decend on the island for the weekend
  • foraging and culinary experiments (wild alliums and oat cream risotto, sauteed pine tips with finnish grilled cheese, porridge with cowslip and strawberry coulis, wood sorrel lemonade)

(further) exploration

  • touching the island - using contact microphone to get in touch with the textures of the island (moss, dry leaves, ferns, nettles, reeds, trees…)
  • listening to the unseen - listening underwater and in the undergrowth using a hydrophone
  • experimenting with the temporalities of sound recordings (listening to the island at different time scales)
  • journalling
  • travel planning

(further) exploration

  • Morning recording - reeds, bird island
  • Afternoon - plotting possible soundwalk (GPX track saved), video sketch of the walk
  • Discussion - some propositions (and patterns) in response to the open questions guiding our residency

Ecological attunement

How do we attune to an environment? Through “raw” human senses and when we augment the senses using tools, instruments and/or digital devices. What attunement techniques are we using?

  • Greeting, acknowledgement, permission (asking or testing - eg. in foraging, we can imagine asking permission, but won't get an answer until we test if the plant is poisonous), appreciation, meditation, focusing, unfocusing, experimenting with broadening and narrowing attention, exercises in practical magic (divination, scrying, psychogeomancy, visualisation, energetic navigation), daily walks and rituals, deep listening, augmented listening (in situ and from recordings), listening across different time scales (temporal manipulation of recordings)
  • In general - don't rush or force things, slow down / stay still until we attune to the rhythm of the place, keep returning to the same places and listening to the subtle differences (different times of day, at different speeds)

Speculative experiments

What (or how) technologies could help us attune to our surroundings, rather than distracting us from them?

  • Minimally intrusive technologies that enhance and/or remind (rather than distract) while being in an environment (e.g wearable, aural interfaces, HUD; no cables, no buttons, etc)
  • Technologies to focus (or maintain) attention in different ways - digital, chemical, biological, philosophical (…) technologies for the alteration or augmentation of the spectrum of human perception
  • e.g.
  • Ambient overlays along the lines of 'native land' app to remind/prompt/tempt
  • sonifcation and/or filters based on local environmental data as modulators of experience (e.g. rjdj → augment )
  • Possible, probable, preferred futures (arts/sciences/politics) scenarios (e.g. workshop with biosphere reserve? visualised with signage on the island? edible futures prehearsal?)
  • … etc.

What instruments could we devise to experience ecological transformations at a human scale?

  • speculative experiments/exercises → towards tech-specs for thalient technology e.g
  • tâtonnement v trial & error v solutionism → ?+ (“par tâtonnements” and/or “suck it and see”)
  • 'feeling around' climate models, time series, etc.

What rituals/observances/ceremonies could enable us to resonante with entities existing beyond human perception?

  • instructions for solitary rituals, time/space and/or talismans (inc. (re)enchantments, evoking & invocation)
  • ritual feasts. where we forage, prepare and consume parts of the island (scent, taste)

Could we design observatories where layered times and abstract data can be sensed at a human-scale?

  • talk w. the scientists about the tank shed as a possible venue. e.g. sonic lab — listening to the island through recordings, sonified data. sensory deprivation chambre in the cool rooms w/sound composition?

How can we transform abstract data into embodied sensations, processes that can be experienced instead of (and as well as) explained?

  • e.g. sonification, using the data as parameters for filters, modulate composition (or raw field recordings) with time series data. 2nd order.
  • use data as constraints for plotting a walk across the island

How can all of our noticing, witnessing and recording become a transformative, re-animating force, something beyond representation?

  • Design and prototype experiences to test ideas (eg. sound walk on seili, AR overlay of speculative fictions in dif. parts of the island, or a set of instructions (spoken, cards, online, etc) for attuning to the island)
  • How can we extend small-scale experiences more deliberately to evoke wider ranging effects and/or unexpected resonances? (using existing infrastructures, e.g. conversations, media, promotion, publication, infiltration/exfiltration etc)

How can the act of observing be an act of caring? How can you care for something able to consume you or make you ill?

  • experiencing the effects of environmental turbulence (eg. cracked moss after a drought) can heighten empathy and motivate more engaged action - in some cases just “being with” can be enough (holding space), especially when there is nothing we can do to improve the situation. in other cases, caring for would include direct action (eg. preventing clearcutting a forest)
  • understanding the need of creatures can reduce afflictive emotions and increase empathy, while keeping the necessary vigilance

If we assume that the entire material bestiary has some form of sentience, how do we respond to climate change, mass extinction or speciation?

  • different 'protocols' of engagement (negotiating the give-and-take. permission and/or invitation when there is no explicit comminucation/consent possible.)
  • understanding the gradient of consumption (what can we use without harming the entity - eg. pine tips → multitude → forest)
  • in some (many?) cases paliative care is required and 'fixing things' is impossible
  • etc…

(further) exploration

  • dawn chorus recordings (2x)
  • further discussion / digression
  • collecting time series data, discussion with Katja about the types of data collected, sonification and potential collaborations
  • visit to possible art/science outreach venue (shed)
  • the ARI are interested in anything that could help bring environment/nature closer to visitors, to extend the existing science communication (e.g. alternatives/additions to the current audiotour of the island, mainly focused on history)
  • listening to the island through the recordings
  • data sonification experiments
  • mapping a possible soundwalk (environments, milestones/points of interest) & extrapolation of textures/atmospheres for sound composition/soundwalk
  • plants, flowers especially continue their rapid growth, opening to the warmth, blosoming, air thickened with pollen, bees.
  • spectres_residency_02019.1560410543.txt.gz
  • Last modified: 2019-06-13 07:22
  • by nik