Yesterday I was in London. A small amount of snow brought the city into a state of chaos. It makes me laugh. It was hardly anything. Last year I was in Helsinki. Minus 26 degrees of Celsius. Everything was still running to time as the snow fell and millimetres turned to centimetres. Stepping out of the triple glazed and double front doored apartment the first breath burnt your throat as my steps crunched on the crisp fresh snow. One of my favourite sounds ever.
The frost has stuck around all day at home and the thin veil of snow hasn’t shifted. I throw another log into the stove. I love the preparation for winter – getting the logs in, drying them, putting away the chainsaw and bringing out the axe. It marks time for me. I like the seasons and yes, winter is my favourite. Or rather the cold ones. I hate the damp, dreich ones, the warm wet ones, the mediocre ones. Then, that is becoming the norm. we don’t really have proper seasons any more.
I remember the endless summers stretching out, the cold winters, the amazing colours of autumn, blackberry week, strawberries in summer, apple blossom. But we can get anything we want from anywhere at anytime of year.
Food Miles. Transport. Planes and Trains and Boats. Diesel, aerofuels, particulates, ozone, NOX, glacial melt, polar melting, sea level rise, climate change, fires, floods, droughts, post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, stress – HIKKOMORI.
No wonder we feel so unwell when the world around us so intoxicated.
Which neatly segues into my current area of work. The research into Climate Change and Mental Health and making artwork to explore and address this.
We are in a dual crisis of both. The Blue Planet on BBC has given a mass audience to the former whist the latter still struggles to make the news despite the failure of child mental health services, one suicide every 90 seconds – think how many that is by the time you’ve read this and clicked another page.
To my mind there is a link between one and other – regardless of social policy. Similarly my work seems to be becoming more and more interlinked as one season turns to another and back around again.
In November I took part in Lumiere Durham. I showed Sagacity: The Periodic Table of Emotions . The work had only ever been shown on a small scale. I had no experience of making work for a massive festival with 250,000 visitors. In fact I had no experience of light festivals or illuminations. This reminds me of the having no experience of greenfield festivals in the summer. But I do have experience of not having experience and solving that.
This is the amazing thing about having had the opportunity of working in Pervasive Media Studio. I have learnt loads of stuff about loads of stuff as well as stuff around the stuff I don’t know anything about. Last week I went to Enchanted Parks – a light festival in Saltwell Park Gateshead – I could take a good guess at the tech and ‘how it was done’. This was a revelation to me – and to be able to go around with an informed critical eye.
So Lumiere. I needed to make sure that an interactive piece stayed interactive and cope with the levels of expected interaction and not fail. I have learnt that keeping potential points of failure to a minimum is good. Keeping things simple is good. String is good. The amazing thing about Pervasive Media Studio is the people, the knowledge, the sharing, and loads of other things.
I found someone to work with who knew what to do. Tarim helped and guided me, made suggestions and executed a fantastic job. Obviously its more complex than that.
What I am getting at here is that by being present I got to do another commission which I never would have had the confidence or ability to execute without being at Watershed.
All this feeds into doing more things. Now I may not know what to do but I know if I can come up with an idea I can get it done. I know more about what is and isn’t possible. I understand a digital language better. I understand some other art forms better.
So the year is coming to an end. And a new one begins. This part of my development may be coming to an end but it isn’t over. I already have plans to continue working at PMS and proposals to keep me going back. I am determined come what may I will get that or some funding to make it happen.
It isn’t ending
It isn’t over