LANDscanning while walking

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Above is a LANDscan of Graffiti approx. 15ms long on a fence in Corydon in Sydney

“LandScans – Landscapes of Unnatural and Natural Beauty” explores the merging of art, architectue and landscape in the production of new work to engage the viewer. I have coined the term ‘photo-geo-ethnography’ to encapsulate the landscape and lived environments reflected in the works and the process used to create them.
Through embracing the technology of a hand held scanning tool I have expanded my sensory perception of the world and thereby my art practice. I use the scanner to reveal ‘haptic’ perception of where I am. The scanner is not just a tool but an extension of myself. Just as one would extend a hand to engage with a landscape or cityscape I move effortlessly with the scanner over surfaces recording a band of images for future use and inspiration. 
The impetus for this work has been my recent OZCO residency in the UK where I was exposed to completely new environments evoking strong visceral responses. The LandScans produced during this residency expose the residue of human engagement. As raw and intimate renderings of place they present ‘proof of life’. Building layered memories of place, the resulting images challenge the notion of ‘what you see is what you get’.
Factors, both intentional and unintentional, which could not be known at the moment of capture, influence the final composition of the images. These images range from the natural to the urban; from the ethereal images of daisies atop the white cliffs of Dover to the gritty micro-tableaus of urban existence scanned from the streets of Liverpool. There can be a powerful layering of experience in the juxtaposition of these images for both maker and viewer. 
There is great potential for the development and presentation of LandScans, across diverse mediums to create a new dialogue regarding not only how we view, touch and capture landscape/cityscape, but also how we recreate that experience for the viewer. 
Reanimating these experiences of place and translating memories of experience into artwork is the challenge I have met in mounting this exhibition. 

 The term ‘haptic’ is derived from the Greek haptos (adj.) or haptein (verb), meaning ‘to lay hold of’ or ‘pertaining to the sense of touch’. (Minogue and Jones 2006)

Fallen Series Week 1 Day 2 Ashfield

 

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The AGENCY of the TREE

I have always been taken by the notion of contact and touch; touching an item, standing in a place that someone else had touched or stood –  LANDscans capture the unseen residue of the past the mirco marks and ware of age that no one else sees.
Plus I am interested in the idea of “agency” which I describe as the ability to act (independently), to exert power; it’s the opposite of inert passivity. Trees responds to the sun, to water and some have even been shown to “communicate” and share information about predators, they respond to touch, sound and manipulation of forces over the way they grow. So tying a weighted string line with a pen attached over paper seemed a natural progression giving them the agency to respond and a way for to understand what I was really feeling.
The ideas I have been  exploring since moving to the FARM in 2014 is the notion of agency!!!

2014-2018 was a 4 year process of initially buying a farm to become self sufficient, to start fresh to leave the busy world behind.  However this time was more like taking time off, to become quite, to self reflect and re consider how, why and when I make art.
The year began with moving to this glorious 40 ac Sunshine Coast hinterland property with high hopes and adventure in our hearts. We moved into a caravan, not long after that my husband had a break down so building an abode with the little money we had was such a chore. Then due to unforeseen family issues having my ageing parents move in and I having to care for them prior to the passing of my father earlier this year.

  

Left: Dad and Mum on their arrival to the FARM in 2016. Middle: the blur of the yellow sunflowers that covered Nambour Mapleton Road during the cooler months when travelling up the range to Kureelpa. Right: Dad and Mum, at the Marcoola Surf Club, Dad’s last outing one month before he passed in late January, 69 years married to the day 2018.

 

THE FARM: talking to the trees 

Above: By day and by night my figs trees on the ridge in Kureelpa

After 22 years living in a rainforest I moved to a farm atop a hill, with BIG skies, views forever and stunning sun rises and sets but with winds that whipped nearly daily.  I felt exposed, vulnerable and overwhelmed by this vastness and energy. I started to question my move. Turning to my practice to understand my concerns and investigate the idea/concept of this ‘landscape’ by using the thesis of my life’s work ‘interaction’ as a sculptural strategy. And the work be shaped by my own behaviour and engagement with my new landscape.
I commenced by gardening and caring for two 75-year-old fig trees that stood atop the ridge at the entrance of my property like custodians of the land they stood atop.  Under these trees I felt calm safe, even reassured of my decision. Their strong limbs provided me with shelter from the sun, protection from the rain and the winds. I had a strong connection to these trees and felt they wanted to tell me something, so I attached weighted pens to their limbs and foliage with paper beneath. I then waited and watched as the trees started poetically moving, at times vigorously, dancing in the breeze, to a slow invisible rhythm that I captured on paper and film, each day a new story each tree unique messages.
A series of drawings, scratching’s, short films gathered from the kinetic movements whispered by two 75 year old the trees during the month of May. A poetic collection of renderings of what these two trees wanted to say, starting the conversation by asking them MAY I…….

  

Above: The two fig trees that became central to me and my work – an outdoor studio, a contemplative space and connection to the place I was to live out my days. However, nothing ever pans out the way you hope they do and as you can see I looked aged and have become aged from what was on the horizon. But as they say out of adversity comes creativity….

 

TREE DIALOGUES

Ecologists are trained to use statistics, recording discrete moments to draw a continuum inference or prediction of natural dynamics, with little inclusion of the dimension and influence of memory. My intuitive process as an artist captures a far more acute essence which will hopefully resonate with you on reading how the trees talk to me.

I have attached a small video link of the process from the experimental works I undertook on my farm giving an insight into why I started this methodology.

Tree drawings: https://youtu.be/q213vo2DvM8                             

Tree animation drawing: https://youtu.be/MTB1zVtUNXc

CONCEPTUAL PROCESS: tree dialogues

Tell me when you’re walked in a forest (urban or bush) on a breezy or windy day, have you experienced that feeling that the trees are “talking” above your head? Turns out that your intuition may not be so far from the truth. Scientists are now discovering that plants have similar senses to ours and that they “talk” to each other — not just through their roots, but as we do: through the air.

We’ve known for a long time that plants are sensitive to their environments, reacting to changes in temperature, soil conditions, and light. Their senses, like ours, are quite developed, so by undertaking conversations with significant trees in various gardens and public places/spaces [the favourite trees in the Melbourne Urban Forest, Royal Botanic and Abbotsford Convent Gardens] let’s see if they are speaking the same language and what is it they are saying….

As a landscape artist, I have a history of working the land, using ‘living’ materials and making the environment my resource and canvas for art-making.

Partly because I am a keen gardener and see myself as a 3D painter who sculpts but more importantly as a practicing artist who aims to give voice to our landscapes, specifically trees. My recent series, ‘Tree Dialogues’ allows the trees to speak highlighting their anthropomorphic qualities and by positioning the ‘tree as monument. This process is undertaken by simply attaching a weighted pencil/pen to its limb (via a string-line or directly to the branches and foliage), place a drawing board and paper beneath and over time a visible, tangible conversation eventuates.

These time-based conversations’ are captured, sometimes slow and poetic or quick and aggressive. However, solely dependent on the agency of the prevailing natural elements, these conversations can last all night even a number of days. Capturing, for all to see, their silent repertoire of kinetic movements as communication as tree hieroglyphics.

I want to ask the trees if same species have a singular or collective story and memory, how do they use this collection communication, as they age do they see their own commemorative qualities, what do they wish to say especially those trees that are part of the Urban Forest and have emailed, with love letters. How do they feel about having expressions of love inscribed into their trunks?

Can we determine any response by looking at the resulting drawings? What is it these trees are really saying? And what are these marks left on the paper if not their only form of communication as a botanical forms of hieroglyphics? How do we or can we decipher these markings? How do these marks differ from tree to tree, from species to species or site planting to another? Investigating and comparing the movement of trees of similar and different species in different environments begs the question, do they all talk the same or whisper differently?? Can these conversations initiate a change in the way we view the tree, our landscape and the environment or how we treat them/it?

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Above: Tree Dialogues Figs talking to the Bunyas Ashfield Park, Sydney. Drawings in action and resulting poetic drawing

Have you ever wondered what they’d say to one another especially when we begin to deforest the land, starting at one edge of the woods and working our way through to the other. Do the trees cut first shout to the others on the opposite end to run? Or are they whispering to us, asking that we should be more mindful of the consequences? Trees are archetypes of connectivity, and so their lessons are infinitely vital. This series is about the agency of the tree, their symbolism, our engagement and understanding of their legacy to our world. So help me show you if they talk the same or whisper differently?

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    Roses drawing – poetry

THE FARM

2014-2018 was a 4 year process of initially buying a farm to become self sufficient, to start fresh to leave the busy world behind.  However this time was more like taking time off, to become quite, to self reflect and re consider how, why and when I make art.
The year 2015 began with moving to this glorious 40 ac Sunshine Coast hinterland property with high hopes and adventure in our hearts. We moved into a caravan, not long after that my husband had a break down so building an abode with the little money we had was such a chore. Then due to unforeseen family issues having my ageing parents move in and I having to care for them prior to the passing of my father earlier this year.
                                                                                                               
                                                                                                               
                                                                                                               
Top: Dad and Mum when they first moved in with us at the farm 2016, 92 and 90 respectively. Bottom: Dad and Mum at the Marcoola Surf Club, Dad’s first and last outing after being hospitalised from a fall, before passing in late January 2018, 69 years married to the day.

TREE Dialogues: Significant Trees in Melbourne

THE PROJECT: significant trees
Initial research will commence by walking the Yarra Line, mapping and nominating significant trees that LINK the Abbotsford Convent and the Botanical Gardens adding to the Urban Forest list of significant trees by specifically using their most widely emailed. This list of trees are also drawn from discussions with the public and staff within Covent and RBGardens, are some planted for food and or pleasure. This mapping will help determine links between sites, species, history, beauty and significance enabling me to narrow it down to a handful of the trees that personality have a lot to say.
Over a 6-month period leading into the Christmas and New Year period of 2018/19, I will document, record and collect these DIALOGUES from the trees via kinetic drawings and at times I will drawing into them as part discussion and part response to the exchange between site, tree and myself. This will be supported by photographic and video documentation. Once complete I will curate this store of imagery and conscious engagements (digital imagery) into and exhibition of works for exhibition and the production of a small book of the project. This project will also include the BILLYcan project and more LANDscanning of the these walks. During 2018 I have been developing the BILLYcan project into a Walking app, which will see it launch at these venues.
This is to be exhibited in one or all of the participating venues: Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne City and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

 

TREE Project and LANDscanning

Above: LANDscans of my tactile engagement collecting human residue and decay during a walk along Parramater Road Sydney, 2017

LANDscanning: secondary sequence and residue capture while WALK-ing between trees while mapping the YARRA Line, this is a personal and public performance, visible and invisible.

Walking leaves little traces, little is left behind after the experience except tracks of thoughts so the idea of simple photographs or drawings during such a walk is clearly not enough: an object cannot compete with an experience.  This is why this subjective experience uses the process of the LANDscanning.
LANDscanning collects the experience of the walk, the tactile meeting of the tree as a sensuous engagement, collecting the mirco residue of the past of all types of engagement: the fallen leaves, the dying flowers, the scared bark of graffiti and even when you think you have left nothing!! LANDscanning captures this engagement to become a visually true semiotic reading of place.
LANDscans are captured using a hand held scanner, an instrument that has become an extension of myself, as a natural and familiar process. Just like extending your hand to touch and engage with the rich textures of a new environment, in this case, I can scan. So when my hand moves over these vastly different surfaces, my scanner effortlessly records this engagement, even my staggered movements or my digital dirt as I call it are permanently stored as textural memories of the engagement of place. The images captured are created by factors both intentional and unintentional which are strongly influenced by the moment of capture, discreet segments of place, points in time, samples of the surrounding environment which later revealed layered records of the impact of occupation, motion and time.

Every interaction leaves its mark including my own LANDscans captures the stuff we overlook.

LANDscanning: FALLEN what was left behind