In light of the Covid-19 pandemic’s visible impact on lowering world pollution emissions Carbon Synthesis is a trans-disciplinary project which proposes to reveal rhythms and markers of climate change by linking art and science; revealing the effects by visualising the (in)visible.
2021 marks the beginning of a year long artist residency with Lancashire Wildlife Trust, City of Trees and Carbon Landscape which will link Little Woolden Moss in Greater Manchester to a wider international collaboration with artist’s Dr Sarah Robinson and Dr Donna Franklin (Perth, Australia) and research teams at the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station, Finland.
Carbon Synthesis is an international investigation into the possibilities creative practice offers translating current understanding and developing technological capabilities transforming perceptions of our global wetlands.
I am hugely grateful for the opportunity this residency period offers and look forward to sharing our discoveries along the way.
Horizon lines tinged in blue.
Listening below the moss.
‘ I have been moved by the blue at the far edge of what can be seen, the colour of the horizons, of remote mountain ranges of anything far away. The colour of that distance is the colour of an emotion, the colour of solitude and the desire, the colour of ‘there’ seen from ‘here’, the colour of where you are not. And the colour of where you can never go….’
Rebecca Solnit – A field guide for getting lost, 2005.
12th Feb sub zero frozen landscape before me. Light was bright and crystal blue. New Moon.
Results from the first tests encouraged me to find a larger waterproof pouch to submerge my cyanotypes in the pools overnight.
The results from these second tests were beautiful. It was freezing and the pouches froze hard under the ice and took some digging out.
My reward for working in the ice was witnessing the bubble columns that had formed overnight.
Using the bird hide which historically was an observation point (until it was burnt down) I am embarking on some small experiments. I like the idea of using an old observation point for these new observations and conversations with plants.
During conversations Anna told me about the ability for sphagnum moss to out grown other plants because of its ability to tolerate very low levels of UV light.
So in response I have done some tests to record underwater overnight UV levels as a kind of sphagnum moss view of the world.
There is research to suggest that Sphagnum grows in response to the lunar cycle so I thought I would record over night each New Moon and Full Moon for the whole year to follow the rhythm of the UV. This years cycle will include 3 super moon’s, 1 blue moon and 2 lunar eclipses.
The connection to the blue colour of the cyanotype is key, in art is has historically been used to depict the far edge of places. (Da Vinci) In Goethe’s Theory of Colours he describes blue as ‘darkness made visible.’ and in 1789 the cyanometer was invented to measure of blueness of the sky – https://www.openculture.com/2020/11/discover-the-cyanometer-the-device-invented-in-1789-just-to-measure-the-blueness-of-the-sky.html
Rebecca Solnit speaks of blue as the colour of where you can never go. In the atmospheric distance between you and the horizon…..Blue is the colour of longing for the distances you never arrive in.
A window of opportunity in the weather this week meant I could take a couple of hours to wander and think.
I was struck by my conversations with Anna the significance of investigating deep time in order to predict the future. What can these mosslands tell us about our environment and more importantly our future environments?
καιρός – Kairos is an Greek word meaning Time (Ancient Greek) and Weather (Modern Greek) which is defined in relation to the surroundings and revealed in fleeting experiences.
Invisible horizons in our everyday landscapes – how much can the chemistry in the air and below the surface tell us about the climate condition?
Create access to invisible worlds which are present all around – we are part of the process of those worlds but have lost the connection.
Thinking about how to respond to καιρός – the conditions needed for certain climate changes to occur. I am interested in the tipping points of these spaces, what is happening between things in a performative exchange.
Can art expand our awareness as I seek to better understand what we do not see?
‘An experiment is a kind of conversation with plants’
‘I have a question for them but since I do not speak the same language I can’t ask them directly, and they won’t answer verbally, but plants can be eloquent in their physical responses and behaviours. Plants answer questions by the way they live, by their responses to change. You just need to learn how to ask.’
‘Experiments are not about discovery, but about listening and translating the knowledge of other beings’
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants
by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Spent a wonderful morning on the 22nd with Anna Keightley discussing her work and passion for the mosslands of greater Manchester.
I am extremely grateful for her continued patience with my constant questions and limited understanding.
Key things that we discussed with a view to finding common ground for a creative response:
Invisible elements; exchanges; below the surface; chemical signatures;measurements;UV; colour; indicators of climate change; patience; recording the small changes.