Wednesday.

A thin hue of sun lines my morning horizon — latitude 55 — the possibility of summer seems remote here. Cold.

Was it only last week, we shared a space with indoor tropical plants at Ausland?

Some reflections:

Kaffe makes an important point in her post and hints at a question that remains unresolved. Did everyone ask the plants — silently or expressed orally — if it was okay to enter into a communion with them? You might recall during our first meeting as a group, I made a small invocation (just shy of a sermon, ha… ) about our intention and seeking ‘permission’ and so forth. My encounters with the numinous and spirit-filled domains of flora and fauna have been a humbling teacher. I was serious about sentient plants. And I am equally serious now in proposing that we reflect on the conversation held with them last week.

The ‘bleeding’ aloe vera, for one, was communication. What did that mean to you? How did you feel? Set aside your intellect for a moment. Was it a dialogue or an interrogation?

I was outside with the birch and ‘live’ trees, so I could not be totally attuned to what the plants had to say inside Ausland. But I did ask the ‘live’ tree if it was okay to stick it with an antennae probe; the dead birches seemed grateful for any kind of company. And, yes, Melody I do understand implicitly how flakey and well… silly and stupid this might appear to be. As a media personality in Canada, I told a national audience about my encounter with a ‘ghost’ in a haunted house in the Rocky Mountains; I discovered through my work with the neuroscientist Michael Persinger that subtle pulsed electromagnetic fields, inherent in the geophysics of the ground underfoot, can create the conditions for ‘communication’ of an extraordinary nature. That was fifteen years ago.

Karl-Heinz, is it possible that the supernatural is science that has yet to be assigned a measurement? If indigenous people who still live close to the land declare that plants are sentient and have ‘personalities’, how might we — as artists — facilitate conversation between modern urban people who might require a prosthetic device to relearn, and please excuse the analogy, how to ride a bicycle or skate along the thin surface tension between the world as we interpret it and the reality of spirit-filled places.

I called the outdoor installation Deadwood Sings Slowly for good reason because I learned through direct experience that’s how ‘plants’ sing — slowly. The live and dead trees performed well as antennae picking up on human activities in constructed space — perturbing the electromagnetic spectrum, disrupting bands of frequency with more and more traffic (mobile phones and so forth). And it’s a noisy, cacophonous bit of racket that these trees have to continuously put up with in Berlin and elsewhere in the world. There is an intervention, I suppose, by adding drones to harmonize and transmute the ‘noise’  (as Derek did so wonderfully with his bowed bass on Wednesday evening following my talk with Martin Howse). That said, the temptation remains to think of ourselves as clever — we in the broadest sense of humanity — without ever once having to consult with the sentient creatures that share the same spaces (sic) apparent and transparent to our sensory modalities. Our intellectual capacity to engage the numinous is stunted; many people in our Western culture have lost the ability to know the landscape from its frame of reference because in many respects there is no such thing as a genuine wilderness close at hand.

The good news is I think we have prepared the ground for another residency. And I would like to explore that possibility of reconvening in an artist-friendly place such as the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada’s Rocky Mountains. Kindly let me know if you’re interested.

Finally, I am grateful for Sarah’s invocation that I ‘sing’ on Thursday evening. If you were there at Ausland, when Kaffe and I jammed and a spontaneous interaction — a kind of ‘channeling’ — Kaffe moved by the sound of the plants, the antennae outside and so forth, and my sequence of overtones (throat singing) in close harmony, well… Sarah, you’re right “it was magic.”

Best to you all for the holiday season and 2013!

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