A Continuation of Autumn: ASN1 exhibition at the Johnston Terrace Garden

At the start of March, ASN1 students held their ephemeral exhibition A Continuation of Autumn at the Johnston Terrace Garden, which was open to the public for a single day. Visitors were guided into the garden to discover each of the students’ work.

The students’ research of the place and its plant and animal inhabitants started last autumn and spanned over several months. What they found was a living garden, teeming with interactions and constant change.

When first entering the garden, visitors were greeted by Hsin-Yi Wang’s dynamic work.

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In Winter Rhythms,  Wang attempts to capture the movement of the wind with strips of fabric strung between trees, each dyed in a colour she was able to identify within the garden.

Directly onto the right, the side-path leading to the back of the garden is colonised by Yanzhen Wu’s trail of paper.

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Only a handful of visitors choose to carefully tread the covered path rather than use the other. Through Intervened Path, Wu is asking us to considered the relationship between human intervention and landscape.

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Yanzhen’s Intervened Path and part of Scott Hunter’s Inscapes

Using the garden as an extension of the bigger landscape, Scott Hunter’s Inscapes photographs are scattered throughout the garden depicting a child’s view of the world, free from constraints and distinguished by exploration.

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At the centre of the garden, inside Bobby Niven’s Palm House (2017), Joanne Mathews’ Collaboration: Periparus Ater places us directly in the spot where the artist spent hours, over several months observing a common Coat Tit.

jojo1Collaboration: Periparus Ater charts the birds’ movements in a series of drawings. These maps are a meditation on avian time.

At the back of the garden, amidst the foliage and cover of some trees, a white chair invites the visitor to sit and reflect, literally, upon where they situate themselves within the garden.

GardenProject_Tzu_1In here/there, Tzu-Yun Liang asks us to consider our position as humans within what we understand as ‘nature’.

 

The Johnston Terrace Garden is an enclosed garden at the heart of Edinburgh, looked after by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Bobby Niven’s Palm House (2017), is managed by the Edinburgh Art Festival.

 

Art, Space + Nature graduate sojourns to space

Recent ASN graduate, Luis Guzman is one of nine international artists to be included in the MIT ‘Sojourners 2020’ Project on the International Space Station. His project titled “Bioarchitectures” seeks to rethink the relationship of terrestrial life with the gravity of the planet in the context of space exploration.

His project was on board the SpaceX FALCON 9 CRS-20 rocket which was successfully launched this week. His work will spend thirty days on the Space Station before being returned to earth and developed into an installation/exhibition.

Luis will return to ASN, this semester to discuss his project with the current students.

https://www.media.mit.edu/posts/sojourner-2020/

https://asnse.wordpress.com/2019/07/20/sculpting-the-hyperobject/

Mount Strange and the Temple of Fame with Alix Villanueva

ASN artist-in-residence, Alix Villanueva, is part of an exhibition running from mid-January to mid-March, alongside three other artists. In this exhibition curated by Wendy Law, the four female artists investigate and uncover managed histories, strange landscapes and the power of myth-making and folklore. The artists research, re-claim, reveal and re-present semi imagined old pasts, new futures, and truth.

In the exhibition, Alix Villanueva exhibits her new film A Garden Phenomenology, as well as other works including costumes, hand-crafted ceremonial brushes, writing, curiosity cabinets…

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©Cat Thomson, 2020

 

The term `cosmoecology’ is adopted by Villanueva as a way of making space for the unknowns arising from our age of great political and environmental uncertainty. Villanueva’s art embodies the co-existence of her own personal experiences of the world with the larger landscape and notions of the cosmos such as mythology, gods, folklore, ghosts, death, and after-death.

A muslin shroud-like garment hangs from a domestic clotheshorse. A collection of ceremonial brushes are created from the artist’s own hair and objects gleaned from the Scottish shoreline.

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©Cat Thomson, 2020

In the accompanying soundscape, sound designer Paul Koutselos internalises the liminal space between mind, body, interior and garden.

In Villanueva’s short collage film Bonnard, the Hand and the Maggot, the protagonist, of whom we only ever see the hand, leads artist Pierre Bonnard in a dance around a garden, looking for the latter’s wife, Marthe. The film uses collage techniques to touch upon themes such as the creative and fruitful relationship between death and life, the fragmentation of the self and the body, and the relationship between interior and exterior spaces. Villanueva believes that Marthe Bonnard (known in the arts as Marthe Méligny) is given little agency as a woman and artist: in writings about the Bonnards,’ Marthe tends to be portrayed as either a negative influence on Bonnard as an early modernist painter, confining him to interior scenes, or portrayed as a lifeless corpse, Ophelia-like in a bathtub and decapitated in his garden photography.

 

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©Cat Thomson, 2020

For Villanueva, the garden is a zone of simultaneous enclosure and porosity, of decay and fruitfulness. In her film A Garden Phenomenology, Villanueva considers ways in which our bodies are the primary point of contact with the world around us, by going through each of the five senses. This work, informed by the medieval tapestries “La Dame à la Licorne”, also investigates a possible sixth sense through the poetry of the garden, the insistence of ritual, and a different way of letting things grow.

 

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©Cat Thomson

Further along the exhibition space, two cabinets stand side by side, holding fragments of rituals. Ritual and ceremony have an important role in Villanueva’s work.  In her ritual ‘Gleaning Ghosts,’  Villanueva walked along the banks of the River Almond to Cramond Island wearing her hand-crafted ‘landscapes skirt’ to which she tied the rocks she had gathered along the way. The too long skirt became heavier, a test of resilience, dragging the artist along while the material, like a canvas, charted each interaction between her body and the environment.

In A Healing at Cramond, Villanueva entered the cold sea wearing her hand-crafted ritual gown, both hospital robe and folkloric costume. Through this ritual Villanueva attempted to understand the lasting aches of chronic pain through holisticity, calling to folklore for answers. It is Cailleach Bhéara, the hag, the healer, the witch figure, who points out the disharmonies between this world and the Otherworld, the sacred natural, which are thought to be the root cause of ill-health in our realm.

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©Cat Thomson, 2020

 

As part of the exhibition, Alix Villanueva was also invited to speak about her work through SPIN, a contemporary art programme run by the National Galleries of Scotland.

She will also be part-taking in the discussion event ‘The Women We Know’, marking International Women’s Day and contextualising women and the arts, through the focus of the exhibition Mount Strange and the Temple of Fame.

 

‘Grey to Blue: Ecological Entanglements’ at the Edinburgh Art Festival

Grey to Blue: Ecological Entanglements

Detail of Pawpaw | Dark Flower Scarab Beetle sculptural installation, 2019. Image: Kenny Lam.

Earlier this year, ASN graduate Yulia Kovanova took part at the Edinburgh Art Festival, presenting a new body of work ‘Grey to Blue: Ecological Entanglements’. The exhibition was hosted by the Tent Gallery and the Edinburgh College of Art, the University of Edinburgh.

Through an investigation of ecological interactions, Grey to Blue focuses on the exploration of colour and its spatio-temporal dynamics, to reconsider perceptual boundaries, looking at how spaces are shared with human and nonhuman.  Each artwork explores the in-betweenness of things and how seemingly separate objects, bodies and phenomena relate. 

A series of abstract interactions are presented through sculptural, photographic, moving image and sound based works, drawing attention to the role of colour in the living world, while highlighting ecological loss and absence. 

“Our world is a web of intricate relationships and interactions – some easily accessible to human senses and some less so. It is those very delicate relationships that Grey to Blue takes as its focus.” — Yulia Kovanova

Taking inspiration from the natural world, the work looks at how different organisms interact with their environment, and questions the place of humans within their surroundings.

Yulia Kovanova, Red Silky Oak | Swallow-tailed Hummingbird installation, 2019. Image: Kenny Lam.

A sculptural installation comprising of thin multi-coloured wooden rods [above] looks at the interaction of a hummingbird and its flower as the bird enters the flower to drink nectar. The coloured lines representing the flower interpenetrate the colours of the hummingbird, creating one spatial experience. The audience can walk through the piece, thereby entering the hummingbird-flower experience.

Avocado | Giant Sloth installation, sound

Avocado | Giant Sloth installation, sound, 2019. Image: Kenny Lam.

A pile of real soil spanning almost six metres is studded with casts of avocado stones of different shapes and sizes. The sculptures are absolutely white; their hue is missing – reflecting the extinct large mammals who would swallow and distribute the avocado stones. Those animals are long gone, yet the fruit hasn’t caught up to this reality, and continues to call for its lost partners.  Sound piece by Lars Koens.

Avocado - Giant Sloth - Yulia Kovanova - 2019 - Image by Michal Jesionowski

Further element of Avocado | Giant Sloth installation, 2019. Image by Michal Jesionowski

As the hue left the avocado pits, the actual avocado dye became one of the components of the three plaster casts, presented next to the soil. This piece shows the various shades that can be derived from avocado dye. With the giant mammals gone, it is the role of the human as a surrogate to continue the work of helping these plants disseminate.

Purple Coneflower | Rusty Patched Bumble Bee installation, sound 2019

Purple Coneflower | Rusty Patched Bumble Bee installation, sound 2019. Image: Kenny Lam.

Developed in collaboration with light programmer Siyao Zhou, the ‘Purple Coneflower | Rusty Patched Bumble Bee’ installation explores relationships between bees and flowers. The lights are mapped to a bee’s movement, lit with the colour that of the flower, so the piece creates an experience of a bee-flower, as one entity – alive only in coexistence. Sound piece by Lars Koens.

Detail of Mango | Stegomastodon instant image installation, sound 2019

Detail of Mango | Stegomastodon instant image installation, sound 2019. Image: Kieran Gosney.

A mango ages from unripe to spoilt in a progression of instant photographs that trail to the floor, much like the fall of a mango from its tree to where it will lie uneaten by its extinct evolutionary companion, the Stegomastodon. Thousands of years ago this great giant swallowed the entire fruit with its pit, helping the plant to disseminate. With the animal now extinct, the fruit continues to appeal to its ghost of a giant.

Detail of Red Silky Oak | Swallow-tailed Hummingbird installation, sound 2019.

Detail of Red Silky Oak | Swallow-tailed Hummingbird installation, sound, 2019. Image: Kenny Lam.

The Red Silky Oak | Swallow-tailed Hummingbird installation is comprised of a blurred video of a brightly coloured hummingbird and a flower projected onto an imposing fractured ‘screen’ made of suspended paper tubes, along with a sound piece by Lars Koens that carries the audience through the columns.

The exhibition is supported by the University of Edinburgh and Hope Scott Trust.

PERCEIVING…:Kaixin Li

 

ASN MA DEGREE SHOWS

 

Growing up in China, and spending most of my academic career studying and working with architecture in Shanghai, where is known as a ‘concrete forest’ city. The fast-growing urbanization and civilization changes in China and Chinese ancient philosophy has established my original perspective of the world. As a trained architect in China, my main focus is the intermedia to technology, society influence and globality.

Since arriving in Scotland, my perspective has been changed by the landscape and cultural of this society compared to what it is like in China. I explored new methodology and ontological reflection from observation of the foreign Scotland landscape and ­research of nature. The conflict between man-made world and natural world underlies my practice.

 

Zi Ran (Nature)

 

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Lao zi: Reversion is the action of Tao. Reversion of what? Civilization. Then Zi Ran develops into an iconoclastic social idea called Wu Wei: non-action. The term non-action does not mean inactivity but rather ‘taking no action that is contrary to nature. [1]

Living in the concrete forest for 6 years, I’m familiar with how fast humans use concrete to civilise the man-made land. The philosophy of Taoism and the reality forms a significant distinction. According to Tao, any slight accumulation of man-made civilization constitutes a serious encumbrance to the freedom of spirit. The philosophy of life always exists in micro things. You can see the whole world from a flower. [2] The secret of the universe exists in a normal flower. Time and space can be eternity and infinity when you started to slow down and value a grain of sand or a wild flower. To us, a flower is normal, however, it can be the heaven for bees. Different creatures seem to have different scale of life in terms of life expectancy. While considering of the cycle of life and death, all the lives are infinite cycle. The scale of world and the time are always involved in ancient Chinese philosophy.

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In Zi Ran, further research suggest of human’s influence on the earth has affected nature over time. Having worked with architecture previously, I discovered the importance of concrete is to building our human empire. Concrete makes our structure of buildings fundamental. The globalized urbanization made concrete a worldwide material, however with this comes its drawbacks due to the proven fact of producing large amount of carbon emission. We took actions to the nature and we can’t stop it now. ‘Human enterprises’ is the main cause that has driven ‘dramatic acceleration’ along with social, economic, and environmental factors over the past two centuries. The work is keen to present another perspective to see the world, slowing down in this accelerating urbanized world and finding the answer from the normal element around you.

 

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Zi Ran creates a dialogue between Man-made world to natural world. The poetic sentence ‘You can see the whole world from a flower’ was exhibited by letter press, which is a process of slowing down, getting along with yourself, that requires practicing and attention to details. Along with it, a cracked concrete slab with flowers growing in between it. The cracked concrete is based on the reality of the abandoned city of Pripyat. It is our alarming misfortune that so primitive science has armed itself with the most modern and terrible weapons, and that in turning them against wildlife it has also turned them against the earth. [3] The contrast between the fragility of flower and fractured concrete shows the current reality. Whether the flower will survive from the tough condition, left by humans, is unpredictable.

 

The delicate letter press of Chinese ancient saying and the cracked concrete slab are exhibited together on the wall, expressing how humans ideology towards nature shifted through time. Exhibiting concrete slab on the wall as a canvas painting, it also provides audience a different way to see this commonly-used material as well as our current world.

What will the future be? The work left an open ending to all these questions.

There is room to argue about the relative importance of contingency in the history of life, which remains a controversial subject today. However, Gould’s insight that we can hardly foreshadow the success of modern lineages beyond a future extinction is a humbling reminder of the complexity of evolutionary transitions. [4]

 

BLACKHOUSE BY CODING

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The first research field trip was to the Isle of Lewis in Scotland, where locates in the northwest of Scotland, the main island in the Outer Hebrides. Isle of Lewis has the ancient Scottish landscape, architecture, language and culture. While those are facing extinction meanwhile because of the cultural assimilation and urbanization, this is an issue all over the world due to globalization. Time is a creator. It created the man-made world after human. Creating a dialogue to the past with the modern technology becomes the intention to response to the traditional Scottish island.

Blackhouse [tigh Dubh], double thickness walls and thatched roof, was the main architectural style in Scotland before 1850. The traditional thatched houses once sheltered families and their animals under the same roof. It’s a record of a unique insight into island life. While blackhouse are abandoned after people started using single thickness wall whitehouse [tigh geal], which is more modern and separate the livestock in in separate dwellings.

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To develop a further understanding of the place identity and history, I picked blackhouse as a message showing the influence of modern technology to the past tradition. I still remember my passion after hearing my architecture tutor told us ‘Architects shapes the world’ in the first lesson. Seeing the disappearing and abandoned blackhouse in the isle of Lewis, as well as human losing their traditions, I start to rethink about the ’shape the world’. With the help of technology, we easily build our man-made world. I wonder how man-made production changes the world and if the world after shaping with technologies only adds convenience and efficiency compared to the natural world.

I used the Arduino drawing machines to draw the element of blackhouse. Driven by the code, the machine can draw the lines accurate and fast.

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In doing this, there are limitations. The machine cannot lift the pen so it has to connect two singular lines when it’s not continuous. This is an interaction between technological innovation and historical domain. The present implicates past and future. The symbol of aging building and the speeding machine are put together, exhibiting the drawings of blackhouse and the codes that drives the machine, it forms a dialogue between the past and the future. Will the retelling of the blackhouse by Arduino evoke your nostalgia?

‘When the camera reproduces a painting, it destroys the uniqueness of its image.’— Berger J(2008)

The reproduction by machines make all fast wide spread, however, it is destroying the unique identity.

 

Ways of Seeing

Ways of Seeing shares how our perspectives towards nature has changed in regards to different position.

The use of Sphagnum moss, has its significance in history as a reminder that it healed the wounds of thousands in World War I. More importantly, the plant itself growing and decaying at the same time, are key species on peatlands as their unique properties actually drive the formation of peat. Peatlands are a type of wetlands which are among the most valuable ecosystems on Earth, as well as the largest natural terrestrial carbon store.[5] If the peatlands are damaged, they will become a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.

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I was inspired by the different views of moss when exploring the Blackwood forest. During daylight, moss appeared especially fresh and bright with the reflection of sunshine that drew most of my attention. When I walked closer, I found that the root were rotting and turned dark red. It forms a huge contract with my first observation. I became particularly interested in that what we see from the appearance is not everything behind it. Our perspectives can be influenced by the ways of seeing it.

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Ways of Seeing is the work combined with Arduino and processing coding technology, when people walking slowly towards the screen, the image gets blurred/ unblurred and the image changing as well. Audience can see different views when they change their position.

Showing the nature fragility and impermanence, the blurring is changed in response to viewers’ bodily presence. The interaction offers a reminder that the seemingly intangible digital world is anchored in the earthly realm. It leads us to think about how human beings should see the world and the relationship between us and nature.

 

Virtual Future

Virtual Future was exhibited in Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation. I was driven by the different perspective to climate change as a Chinese individual. In China, most social media are talking about economic growth rather than the environmental issue and carbon emission problems. Seeing the trash classification and all the environmental protest for the first time here in Edinburgh, I was impressed by people’s concern of protecting the environment. After dozens of interviews with Chinese people on their recognition of the current situation regarding to the planet environmental safety, I realized they are still quite optimistic about the climate change and more concerned about luxury product than environment.

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Human plays an intelligent role during the earth evolution; we invent and create technology, machines and new materials to make our lives easier and solve problems. I designed a product for future, Eco Dome, which can solve our future problems caused by carbon emission. Furthermore, it offers different luxury brand options for people preference.

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Research on the consequence of excessive carbon emission is made to response the function of Eco Dome- the fictitious product for the imagination of human’s evolution after we destroyed the earth. The bilingual poster of the advertising is designed with different options of brand. It is a speculation on how climate change will affect product design, as well as a virtual future after the result of human shaping the world without a restriction.

 

 

References

  1. Tazi N. Keywords: Nature[J]. Cape Town: Double Storey, 2005.
  2. Buddhist scriptures[M]. Penguin, 1959.
  3. Carson R. Silent spring[M]. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002.
  4. Gould S J. Wonderful life: The Burgess Shale and the nature of history[M]. WW Norton & Company, 1990.
  5. IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) (2017). Peatlands and climate change https://www.iucn.org/resources/issues-briefs/peatlands-and-climate-change

WHAT THE TIDES TAUGHT ME: Kharis Leggate

ASN MA DEGREE SHOWS

 

The strands which have developed through my work are, the value of personal experience, and the importance of developing an intimate relationship with the natural environment.

Working with intuition and quiet, a deep sense of place, learning to move with the rhythms of nature, are my ways of exploring connection within the natural world. These ways are echoed by Country et al in Working with and Learning from Country: Decentring Human Author-ity, in developing a “methodology of attending” which includes “[considering] what it mean[s] to live as part of the world, rather than distinct from it.”¹

Through feeling my way into the atmosphere of a place, being with it, noticing evidence of the passage of time and how it is cyclical, my process requires slowing down. It cannot be forced. I cannot control it. Places in the landscape, objects, living things, the elements speak to me, when I let go of logic and listen. They direct me where to walk, my pace. My breathing changes and slows, I drop into surrender. 

The energies of emotions and memories can linger in places, in bodies. Sometimes we need help to release them, often we hold them because we are afraid of not knowing who we will be without them. The ground we walk on, the earth, the rocks, offer security, comfort in their supportiveness; the water provides a constant reminder to let go.

“Be crumbled so wildflowers will come up where you are. You have been stony for too many years. Try something different. Surrender” – Rumi²

 

My earlier works have connected to a sense of place through intimacy and openness, almost like a call to interpret the essence of a place with awareness that, whatever form the end result takes, it will also contain traces of myself and my personal experience in that moment. 

Sinking in to the presence I felt whilst on the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, the history and layers of time, cycles of death and growth, held in the area of a ruined croft house resulted in the creation of an atmospheric handwoven installation IN EACH MOMENT…, at An Lanntair Gallery, Lewis. The piece was a call to consider the shifting of time and the ways we are interconnected not only in the present but generationally with what has already been and what is yet to come. 

 

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IN EACH MOMENT THERE IS
A VEIL, A WINDOW
A MIRROR.
OURSELVES, OUR ANCESTORS
PRESENT, PAST
ALL AT ONCE SHIFTING AND FAMILIAR
 2019 images ©Claire Burnett

 

My background in weaving came into play again after exploring the Black Wood of Rannoch in the Highlands of Scotland. Handwoven fabric acted as a visible and scented record of intuited communication between Scots pine and tree moss lichen, by absorbing the soaking liquid of these two found materials. I let myself be guided totally by messages received from gathered bark and lichen in a meditative way. Rather than use an analytical or research-based approach to learn about the plants properties or historical use, I chose to ‘listen’ by being in the presence of the gathered pieces and remembering my time in the forest.

 

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WHISPERINGS, 2019

 

Textiles took the lead in both IN EACH MOMENT… and WHISPERINGS , although initial ideas always begin with writing and photography. As well as a means of development, text has more recently become a significant part of my final work. 

 

In WHAT THE TIDES TAUGHT ME both text and photography become equal focal points. Showing the work on long narrow space beneath tall windows allows the viewer to follow the route of my observances as I explored a coastal landscape. With an undulating placement of words and images reminiscent of the movement of the sea.

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4 - Kharis

WHAT THE TIDES TAUGHT ME, 2019

 

WHAT THE TIDES TAUGHT ME developed from a process of wandering. I use the word wandering in preference to walking here as the former suggests to me fluidity, curiosity and openness. As Thomas Clark writes in In Praise of Walking, “What I take with me, what I leave behind, are of less importance than what I discover along the way”³, so the simple act of wandering is akin to exploration, of place and of self.

 

The place was the coast of St Monans, a small fishing village on the south coast of Fife, Scotland. As an islander (from Shetland, an archipelago in the North Sea, 120 miles north of the most northerly point of mainland Scotland), the sea is in my blood, in my bones. It’s movement, sound, and shifting colours are familiar to me, the sensations they create in my body feel like home. 

To me, the sea is comfort, familiarity, spaciousness, openness – a connection which is all at once intimate and expansive. Standing on a small section of coast that is also global, this great body of water can create distance while simultaneously being the connecting point between so many shores.

 

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WHAT THE TIDES TAUGHT ME (detail) 2019

 

For several weeks I took the chance every day I could to wander the coast of St Monans. I saw how it left it’s trace along rocks and sand, uneven lines of seaweed, driftwood and other debris, as it moved back into itself. How limpets followed it’s trail as far as they could before settling immobile awaiting the returning tide.

Reacquainting myself with the sea, after living in the busyness of Edinburgh for six months, I began to crave it’s motion, it’s touch. As I sat with feet bare, waiting for the moment when low tide would turn and the water begin it’s choppy rise, first splashing my soles, then sometimes there sometimes not, until the sides of my feet were constantly immersed, and I stayed until it crept higher, until I felt, like the limpets, ready to move off again.

 

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WHAT THE TIDES TAUGHT ME (detail) 2019

 

The shore has two different lives, it is dry land and it is the sea floor, it is an in-between place. In his book, Common Ground, which is part nature-writing part memoir about a square mile of rough wood, meadow and river on the edge of town, Rob Cowen is similarly drawn to a place of in-between.

Paralleling Cowen, my observances overlap and resonate with the personal. What I notice and pay attention to changes with my mood, and my mood changes as I drop into a state of being which author and speaker Martha Beck calls “wordlessness”. Overwhelm can dissipate, from confusion and struggle comes clarity. More than anything though, there is a sense of being part of it all, a reminder that separateness is an illusion. In Working with Time: Rivers & Tides, sculptor and photographer Andy Goldsworthy recognises this shared spirit and emphasises a desire to connect with it when he says, “I want to understand that state and that energy that I have in me that I also feel in the plants and in the land.”

 

I gave myself time to be with the tides, and so we got to know each other. It wasn’t just me and the sea, but stones, sea glass, pottery (or laem as we say in Shetland) were intermediaries, they helped us (the sea and I) communicate. Especially the stones. They acted as messengers, taking what was not words and holding that so as to free up space for me to understand. And, they knew the time to let go. Along with the sea, they knew so much more than I did. 

 

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WHAT THE TIDES TAUGHT ME (detail), 2019

 

 

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WHAT THE TIDES TAUGHT ME (details), 2019

 

It’s important to know that, the simple truth is, I just went for a wander. I just did what felt good, on a deep, soul level. I gave up logic, goals, planning and control. Instinctively I felt my way along this path. I knew when there was nothing more to learn because I sensed it, the tides and the stones quietened, they didn’t lead me anymore. So, then I knew the writing was done. What began on a full moon, was complete on a full moon.

 

I believe it’s important to find experience in a personal way, before learning too much about the experience of others, so that it comes from a place that is purely our own. In an interview on the subject of Joseph Beuys performance, How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare, the artist emphasises that “… the person should rather understand by completely placing himself into the object…” rather than approaching knowing through intellect or logic.

Only then can we go on to share and learn from each other with a sense of authenticity and true understanding. Developing a personal relationship with nature accordingly encourages feelings of respect, responsibility and an awareness of our dependence on the natural world.

Learning to let the work unfold and follow direction from place is the basis of my creative practice. The weeks I spent with the tides, that particular experience, was for that particular time. Landscape will continue to teach me at other times in the future, to point out what I need to notice, to discover and know. 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Clark, T. A. (2007) In Praise of Walking. Kirkcaldy: Fife Council Central Area Libraries

Country, B. et al (2015) ‘Working with and learning from Country: decentring human author-ity’, Cultural Geographies. SAGE Publications Sage UK: London, England, 22(2), pp. 269-283. doi: 10.117/1474474014539248.

Beck, M. (2012) Finding Your Way in a Wild New World. London: Hachette Digital

mishiko1824 (2014) Joseph Beuys – English Subtitles – How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare 1/2. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mo47lqk_QH0&list=PLWQht4ATSrAL2HKdZl7yeizaMa-1Hujbo&index=2&t=0s

Silver, T. (2019) It’s Not Your Money. London: Hay House UK, Ltd

Kumar, S. (2013) Soil · Soul · Society – A New Trinity for Our Time. East Sussex: Leaping Hare Press

Watt, R. (2019) Moder Dy. Mother Wave. Edinburgh: Polygon

Di Sapia, I. (2018) The Selkie. Weaving & The Wild Feminine. UK: Magpie Magazine

Rising Paradigm dot TV (2018) Rivers And Tides Andy Goldsworthy Working With Time 2001 720p BluRay x264 YTS AM. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WP2AfqyOsI

 

References

[1] Clark, T. A. (2007) In Praise of Walking. Kirkcaldy: Fife Council Central Area Libraries

[2] Silver, T. (2019) It’s Not Your Money. London: Hay House UK, Ltd, p137

[3] Country, B. et al (2015) ‘Working with and learning from Country: decentring human author-ity’, Cultural Geographies. SAGE Publications Sage UK: London, England, 22(2), pp. 269-283. doi: 10.117/1474474014539248.

[4] Cowen, R. (2015) Common Ground. London: Penguin Random House

[5] Beck, M. (2012) Finding Your Way in a Wild New World. London: Hachette Digital, pp. 24-25

[6] Rising Paradigm dot TV (2018) Rivers And Tides Andy Goldsworthy Working With Time 2001 720p BluRay x264 YTS AM. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WP2AfqyOsI (Accessed: 24 June 2019)

[7] mishiko1824 (2014) Joseph Beuys – English Subtitles – How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare 1/2. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mo47lqk_QH0&list=PLWQht4ATSrAL2HKdZl7yeizaMa-1Hujbo&index=2&t=0s (Accessed: 20 July 2019)

WHEN CONTEXT LASTS: Lilien Li

ASN MA DEGREE SHOWS

 

We see

We see different colours

We think

We think of the difference between what we perceived

We imagine

We imagine what we are not able to perceive

We doubt

We doubt our perception

We discuss

We discuss if we are all having the same doubt

We return

We return to where we were at the beginning and see

 

I return

I return to a place where I cannot see, think, imagine, doubt and discuss

 

Language & Visibility

Birds cannot see glass.

Cats and dogs cannot see all colours.

Human see limited spectrum, especially in the dark.

 

Flickering rainbows in Luskentyre Beach, west coast of Harris, and lively air travelled from the Atlantic Ocean surrounded us. We are climbing boundless rocks and mountains. A beautiful primary layer of colours is in presence.

When I was taking a minute breath on a minivan, an exotic road sign yells. Indeed, road sign speaks in native language and my eyes are the only exotic. The layer perceived is flipping.

In the book ‘Reading the Gaelic Landscape: Leughadh Aghaidh Na Tire’ [i], John Murray uncovers another layer through the lens of language, which embedded multiple implicit layers entangled with lives and minds.

It is the process to embrace the horizon with sensibility and notice the visible clue from intertwined context, which involves play and debate between surrounding environment and ‘the flesh of perception’ [ii]. Finally, the layers overlapped and united in aesthetic.

Witnessing my first language of Cantonese has been weakening dramatically in my hometown Hong Kong during the last decade, I recognised the importance to preserve traditional languages in front of dominant powers. What Gaelic has encountered resonates with the situation of Cantonese.

There is no way to recover an extinct language and its connections with culture, mentality and value of ethnicity over time. As a multilingual, I identify flaws in translation and represent them through visuals. Not all Gaelic words could be translated into English, and not all colours could be translated into language.

The work title GLAS is a colour name in Gaelic. In one of the Gaelic-English dictionary, it is translated as ‘Become grey, pale or green. Make grey, make pale. Dawn.’, which has become the statement of the work.

 

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GLAS, 2019

 

Visibility & Vision

May our vision be cured, while context of contemporary world is obscure.

 

In response to climate change, I wonder how human being sees that foreseeable but unseeable layer of emergency and how our difference in vision and perception creates distance and conflict.

Where I inhabit, social movements prevails, observed distinctive and divergent points of view reflects the significance of vision, as well as how difference could people access to context and ponder the issue. Hence, my practice is a reflection of relevant observation.

 

between cognition and consciousness

between you and where you are

between today and too late

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BETWEEN, 2018

 

Visible & Invisible

Some distances extend beyond physical.

Some existences stay beyond material.

 

My memory has sealed the last rotten glimpse of your shadow in an envelope. Perhaps when the chandelier falls, you may still find me alive, yet shattered in its aftermath, a remnant of a former existence remains with the archived phantom.

It is my sentiment of an intimate relationship in the past, and a narration of a post-colony.

Dreaded by the book-burning history of China and concerning the absence of archival law in Hong Kong [iii], archive is a universal concept along with my practice. As an archival material, paper is a strand linking up my works.

Instead of mark-making, I cut poems out of paper to echo grief entailed with ‘absence’, ‘missing’ and ‘disappear’. It represents material interruption, which metaphorically embodies radical but quiet vanishment of culture.

‘absence’, ‘missing’ and ‘disappear’ is a family of ‘books’. Each of them consists of 10 pages, and each page is a line of poems, which would never be integrated as a typical book form but alternately with a hope to travel in different directions and dimensions beyond time and space.

artistbook1

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ABSENCE (page 3), 2019

 

Space & Being

‘The perception of the world is formed in the world, the test for truth takes place in Being.’ ― (Maurice Merleau-Ponty, 1968) [iv]

 

With consciousness on context, space is no longer perceived as space itself. When an artist as a container of memory collides with context of space, works of art emerge and evident in that intersection. As long as our consciousness and perception connected with space, the world is subjectively vivid in our eyes.

Journeys to Scottish landscapes Lewis and Harris, the Flow Country and the Blackwood of Rannoch, are emphasising the time immersed in nature and in time itself, and are depicted in forms of art and symbolised life and practice as a process until a day we would be in situ under the soil.

 

In the forest

In tranquility

I observe subtlety

In situ

 

In the gallery

In tranquility

I observe subtlety

In situ

t3

TRANQUILITY, 2019

 

Within & Beyond

color (n.)

from Latin color “color of the skin; color in general, hue; appearance,” from Old Latin colos, originally “a covering” (akin to celare “to hide, conceal”), from PIE root *kel- (1) “to cover, conceal, save.” [v]

If colour is a physically attractive skin of the world, what does it conceal? ‘Colour is the worldly correlate of visibility.[vi] When human being situates ourselves at the centre of the world, how well we understand our capability of seeing?

While Hong Kong protests symbolized in black and yellow, there are some people against the protests wearing blue and white. When society is divided into colours, how much context do we see under the colours? Difference colours not only refer to different opinions and generations but also reflect how desperate the citizens feel. As of July 2019, four people have given up their lives for the issue. [vii]

space (n.)

1300, “extent or area; room” (to do something), a shortening of Old French espace “period of time, distance, interval” (12c.), from Latin spatium “room, area, distance, stretch of time,” a word of unknown origin (also source of Spanish espacio, Italian spazio). [viii]

 

Raised in complex cultures and context, I am inescapably attentive to context in every landscape. Context reflects the process of how entangled layers of the space evolved. Context takes over context over time. Behind colour, both context and time are inexplicable concepts existing in abstract and intangible form. Language, as a standard tool of archive, alone seems incapable.

To understand the long and complex history is to grasp the essence of the space. To admit our inadequate sight is the beginning to free our imagination on text recording the context and on numbers carrying the meaning of time.

While modern science tends to pursue rational investigation by standing outside of the story, staying within context and time allow you to crystallise its substance. ‘People are immersed in a world of places which the geographical imagination aims to understand and recover – places as contexts for human experience, constructed in movement, memory, encounter and association.’ ― (Christopher Tilley, 1994) [ix] This experiential element could never be replaced.

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SKETCH OF GREY, 2019

Space is simultaneously existential and nothingness. Dwell in the ambience of greyness and stillness, the shadow of the material change I archived is visible. When you are moving apart and seeing at some distance, you might discover yourself was once a part of that grey space in the certain pause of time. You are actually part of the work while you think you are looking at the work. I am creating an architectural space or space is always there without my interference.

The figure-ground and the subject-object relationship depends on the way of seeing. Some physical spaces, like natural landscape, widen space for thinking. Experiencing space is a process. After all, every process is organic. The process when what visible turns to invisible or when a place transforms.

The more the process is concerned, neither material nor non-material would stay permanent, the more I could realise myself as a tiny part of the process. When taking protests as a process of the city dying, my generation is born to witness and experience this process. Under this natural life cycle, what should I sorrow for?

 

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GREY, 2019

Of a colour having little or no positive colour;

Of a colour of dark hair turning to white,

As seen at some distance.

 

Become grey, wither.

 

Perhaps, it is not about seeing through colour in the colourful material world. It is about seeing through the universal process by objectifying life. ‘Being-in-the-world resides in a process of objectification in which people objectify the world by setting themselves apart from it. This results in the creation of a gap, a distance in space. To be human is both to create this distance between the self and that which is beyond’ ― (Christopher Tilley, 1994) [x]

 

I dress in black and face grey.

There is tear gas.

There is uncertainty.

There seems no light ahead.

Guns are pointing to our heads.

 

I return.

I return to my city, except my physical body.

The city is heading to an enduring winter.

I am just one of the fallen leaves,

Following the flow of freezing water.

 

When I am within a piece of greyness,

I imagine myself stepping out and looking back in a distance,

I realise myself being within a stage,

A stage of a process.

A process is towards where I cannot see, think, imagine, doubt and discuss.

 

 

References

[i] Murray, J. (2014). Reading the Gaelic Landscape: Leughadh Aghaidh Na Tire. Whittles Publishing.

[ii] [iv]Merleau-Ponty, M. (1968). The visible and the invisible: followed by working notes / edited by Claude Lefort ; translated by Alphonso Lingis. Evanston, Northwestern University Press.

[iii] South China Morning Post. (2019). Time to press ahead with archive law. [online] Available at: https://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/3008341/time-press-ahead-archive-law [Accessed 7 July 2019]

[v] Etymonline. color (n.). [online] Available at: https://www.etymonline.com/word/color [Accessed 7 July 2019]

[vi] Fóti, V.M. (2000). Merleau-Ponty: Difference, Materiality, Painting. Amherst, N.Y., Humanity Books. pp. 170.

[vii] Hollingsworth, J. Shelly, J. (2019). How four deaths turned Hong Kong’s protest movement dark. [online] Available at: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/07/21/asia/hong-kong-deaths-suicide-dark-intl-hnk/index.html [Accessed 24 July 2019]

[viii] Etymonline. Space (n.). [online] Available at: https://www.etymonline.com/word/space#etymonline_v_23940 [Accessed 7 July 2019]

[ix] [x] Tilley, C. (1994). A phenomenology of landscape: places, paths and monuments. Oxford, Berg. pp.7-34

[xi] Brady, E. (2003). Aesthetics of the natural environment. Tuscaloosa, University of Alabama Press.

[xii] Saito, Y. (2007). Everyday aesthetics. Oxford, Oxford University Press.