From the 16-19 September the artists of the Scottish Borders-based Moving Image makers Collective (MIMC) lived in and engaged with the forests around Ruberslaw, between the small villages of Bedrule and Denholm. We had screenings at the old glasshouse down below and installations along the forest paths and in the depths of the woods. I won't go into the details of all the works because a comprehensive publication is in progress but I thought to write a few words about my own contribution. I've already written about my short film The Sighhere so here are two texts I prepared as part of our initial project documentation. The installation ran for two hours on the Friday and Saturday evenings, just as darkness fell. I made a short film of my installation on the rainy Saturday night. Here's the link (password: owl). Flies were attracted to the light of my projection and began copulating on the back wall. Then the spiders arrived for their evening meal. Project Description
In conversing with a forest within the confines of the arts we face the challenge of having to establish new modes through which a work of art is understood. As new limits and conditions are imposed so new functionality is required. With the forest as interlocutor the traditional poles of the art work, poiesis (making and delivery) and esthesis (reception) are subverted. Locked in our world of anthropology we must nevertheless seek to escape. The methodology can only be to establish a new ground or substrate from which to nourish the work.
I prepared for this contribution by means of numerous inscrutable encounters, conversations and collaborations with forests. These were for the most part unannounced, unplanned and unpublicised yet meaningful in unlocking and learning the new code, as far as humanly possible. But even with the application of numerous disciplinary understandings, from metaphysics to organic chemistry, there remains of necessity a gap, or at least an uncertain attempt at bridging the gap between forests and humans.
It was important to build upon an existing historical collaboration, that of rural architecture, by alluding to some of the fundamental elements of architecture, the hearth, the altar, a clearing, marked space, thresholds. Representations of our civilisation, its artefacts and technologies were placed in. around and before the forest - sounding, even musical devices, projected imagery, artificial light.
The visitor was gently invitedto enter the space and begin a conversation, be it through a silent thoughtful moment, a vote of thanks, a votive offering, an apology, a confession.
The Form of the Work
The site of the installation was The Owl House, a small rustic wooden pavilion in the forest, open at the front with a two-seater bench inside. Lit candles were placed inside eight cut glass demijohns to light the path and front of the Owl House as well as marking the boundaries of the installation space. Mirrors behind the bowls reflected the forest. On the first of the two nights colour excerpts from the film 'The Sigh' were back-projected on to small metre-square opal perspex panel placed by the foot of a tree. On the second night this moving image component was projected on to the inside wall of The Owl House. The space was sonified (gently) using two hand-made 20-string bowed psalteries activated by electronic bows (ebows) placed inside the pavilion. Four portable radios on static reception were set in the surrounding forest.