“Reflection on work in forest and lake” by Bagryana Popov
So many landscapes – rich, magical, strange, beautiful light.
So many conversations – connecting our experience to one another and to the landscape.
Memorable moment – sitting on the log speaking about death – We were reflecting on the living tree and the dead tree – that the dead tree is still a tree, upright, vertical, strong, it looks the same to my (unknowing) eye. So – death and life. They suggest that life and death may not be so radically separated from one another. But – what if one of us is to die right now? A light, fun question. Life and death are radically different.
We talk about physics and the meaning of the word ‘energy’ to a physicist – energy as impact, energy as ‘work’. No energy is ever lost. All energy is transformed. We think of this in relation to the tree, the wood, and because we are there, sitting on the log, breathing the air of the trees, looking out over the delicate edge of the tips of the radiant green treetops, we think of it in relation to our own bodies, too. Somehow the distance between the wood, the leaves, the soft ground and our skin has begun to dissolve.
We talk about sound – the constant sound of wind through the leaves is a soothing sound. The nervous system (my nervous system) accepts it and surrenders to it. This is essentially different to constant sound of air-conditioning, or machine. Raisa says that the sound designer she collaborates with is more interested in man-made sound, machine sound. We talk about this, too – that it is our relation to the sound, our interest, our intention that shapes how we hear and enjoy sound. Always- intentionality, relation. I return to these again and again, even when I am quietly observing, and not searching to them.
I discovered that all nature is beautiful.
That the sound of the wind through the trees is beautiful in Seitseminen is beautiful by the Danube.
My hand touched the astonishing undergrowth- springy, spongy and soft. I touched ancient trees. We sang the Kalevala tune as we walked. Song connected to land connected to history – but also disconnected, old, distant.
We worked in the studio- where Raisa and Anttii worked in synchronicity and in separateness.
They did a beautiful tree duet- leaning, listening gently, intertwining- almost.
When the words initiating the movement connected to their thought, to their interest, movement erupted, with a surge of impulse and a fluidity, carrying them, the movement speaking to me (who was watching, listening) of their sensitive response to trees and soil. Images carried across to me. Thought connects to movement connects to weight and lightness connects to viewer. Thomas Richards talks about ‘induction’ in Heart of Practice (Richards 2014) when there is a phenomenon of ‘induction’, when someone is witnessing or performing with a performed who is approached inner action- ‘this transformation of energy’. (Richards 2014: 13)
I discovered that they are different states of sensibility and sensitivity – the state of listening to the land and moving, and the state of humanness.
The look makes things human.
I saw that the human body can suggest tree body with the simplest gesture: ‘Burn marks.’
I learned (again) that the question, request/demand drives us, or makes us contact in a way that is different to a gentle, egoless cohabitation, a being with.
I am reminded that I am always interested in the human (story, need, want, listening, responding, the body) because we are human, so it’s honest. I am interested in honest.
The image of Raisa and Antti on the rocks, at the edge of the lake- beautiful shapes, the people are people, are animals, are elements.
A continuum becomes possible in the way I perceive them.
Raisa leans back and at a certain point her hand enters the water. She is wet.
Touch is always close.
Touch is irreducibly different from sight.
Touch brings up my empathy of experience, of sensing.
But what kind of sensing?
Touching can be proprietorial,
Can be personal,
Can be kinaesthetic.
Touch which has gentle, honest intention, a request.
What is the question? (We need a question. We need a need. There needs to be a need.)
Antti’s Nordell poems from day 1:
Rich images; specific, dark, delicate.
The burn marks, the beard, the cloud.
We saw them on the trees in Seitseminen.
The infinite richness of texture there- infinite, gushing, alive.
No tree is like any other.
I sensed the tree as a person.
(Antti said to the tree in his written dialogue with it ‘maybe your family is nearby.’)
Today in the woods they played in the thick undergrowth. Raisa slid and tumbled off a rock with moss, lizard like, bearlike. They both hid and appeared from the blueberries, part of it, separate from it.
The transition from animal to human is in one moment in movement.
It is shocking, thrilling.
Raisa (on the rocks near the lake) looked at Antti and it became human.
She was looking at him as her son, as her partner, as someone she needed to say something to.
Antti asked the tree about the meaning of existence: ‘It’s a question that has come up for me quite a bit.’ Heidegger says this- the human is the only animal concerned with Being- with the question of being. Antti asks the tree about existence.
Relation is when there is a need, a question.
It is not neutral or anonymous.
Lättu Järvi: Antti’s father sang this to him, so it is known, it’s his song. We connect to things (like in The Little Prince) and they take time and then they are ours. This is specific. It is not general. A specific song for a specific boy. Connection between boy/father. Memory. Lake. Landscape now. Lake now.
Language is always contextual. Meaning arises from the pressures of the context. The poems in the studio mean one thing and by the lake – they become something else.
(When we were near the lake I said ‘we use language to bring something into being that is not there. Or perhaps I said something that can’t be seen. But the trees and lake are here so we don’t need language.)
Unless each audience member was asked to speak a poem about a lake, in which case it’s a sharing not a performance, and the landscape and language come together in a different way again.
I feel a continuum between me and the forest in a new way- even in a new land.