It’s easy to dismiss the reality of what is there. Most of us do this to some degree. It’s a kind of filtering to generate a useful focusing. In doing so much of the beauty of the world is lost. When it does seep in we might have projections and feelings that are based on the level of convience the experience it evokes.
Because of this we tend to place value on the usefulness of observations and not the enriching qualities they offer us. We are in a sense cutting off our connections to the world through a kind of censorship that we have been entrained to believe makes us better at being in the world
I would suggest challenging that. Being present in all it’s applied and implied definitions is about this moment. Be here now. This is the point in time where all we embody is getting an opportunity to engage in this life experience. So, often we wrestle our thoughts with the past or future and even more so the societal constraints of acceptable behavior, observation and objectivity. These might give cohesion to the group in uniting a kind of unified directive. Yet, it requires the individual gives up freely experiencing for gathering information to produce in supporting the group/community/ cultural sustainability.
Art has always been a way or tolerable social niche for letting individuals explore the environment and the unfolding experiences of being in a place and time.
What Remains – Is a photo essay on the elegance of transformation, death, dying and decay in the natural world. These subjects are often taboo in our western cultures. We have a fascination with living and life to the point of not seeing death and the process of dying as part of it.
My intention with the composition of these images is to show the beauty, elegance and giving the subjects an aesthetic resonance. I want the audience to spend time looking deeper at the beauty of it. I don’t want the to tone to be morbid. I’m looking to invoke the curious and the perhaps the inner story teller to be invited to explore. Giving the subjects a memoir that is everyone’s story
These images are taken from my travels across the country in over the last two years. They represent the diverse ways that nature is transparent, honest and transforming in its process of moving from one state of existence to another. This set of images also has the remnants of life. These are the shells and nests that speak to the safe place where life is lived and nurtured. Now they are empty left to the weather and time to also become the stuff of new life
Life and death are part of the great journey we all take on this planet How something dies and is slowly repurposed into new life is one of the great mysteries we need to be paying attention to.
All these photos are original works and are available for purchase.
I grew up a long the shoreline in Connecticut. The beach was down the street. There were shells to be found. Horseshoe crabs to save between the tides. Blue fish to catch. Bright sun for that native tan. Disorienting foggy days and storms.
Once in the mid seventies New Haven harbor froze. A rare event. The ice was thick enough to walk. It was amazing to see a solid ocean with out waves. The wind blew with out the constant rhythm of the tides. I imagined that is what the Artic sounded like.
Living near the ocean I was a constantly reminded the everything could change in an instant. The ocean has a complex full set of conditions and seemingly endless emotional states that ran from one end to the other. The ocean was not shy about expression. She feels full and raw everything. She hides nothing. The ocean embodies the Goddess. She and her 10,000 names uttered from every shore line. She gives everything and takes everything. Life starts with her and she will be the resting place for what is left to start again.
The sky and the ocean are a team. What separates them is a thin undulating line of molecules. This is where particles exchange. Like a cell wall and osmosis, the sky and ocean are perpetually sharing information, nutrients, and particles. One could say the oceans and the sky are lovers constantly in entangled, emeshed, expressions of passion and indifferent stillness. The sky’s vastness is uncontained, reflexed and controlled by the moisture and warmth from the ocean’s constant ferment.
The Sun will heat the surface of the water and the sky will recieve the ocean’s droplets and amass huge storms of winds, lightning and rain. Traversing miles and miles at the whim of ocean currents. An atmospheric tango. With the land masses acting as the tables in a crowded night club as these two impassioned dancers maneuver between.
Some mornings when the droplets hang just right in the sky and the sun rises at a certain angle. The sky turns red. Over time we have learned that this means a storm is coming. And sailors didn’t sail and people waited it out.
2019 started with a journey and ends just the same. I’m getting ready to travel across the country again for work. . The odometer on the car shows 114466 miles. When I bought it new in 2016 it had 13 miles on it. Lots of roads and sky. Many generous and interesting people. Beautiful things. Ugly things too. Life on the road is a mix of adventure and survival….
For full disclosure, I have become completely homeless this year. Not my choice. The reality of a changing living situation, travel, expenses and the rising costs of rents have basically left me with out a permanent place to live. For me this is not a comfortable place to be. I like home. A nest. A place for stuff and kitties. I am doing my best to keep it real and just keep doing the right thing. That’s all I can do. So I do. I am looking to up grade into a van. This will afford me more of a living space. This takes time in order to do it right. For now I live out of my car and stay with people as I travel. It’s humbling and I know I’m not the only one struggling with this issue. I am fortunate for what I do have. I have many many Blessings.
Life is all a learning curve. Traveling as a woman alone has its risks and rewards. So far nothing bad has happened. I have been fortunate with my work to have people I know almost every where I travel to stay. I live pretty simple. I eat pretty simple. My only real vice ( although it is not a vice…) is good coffee. I have many methods to make coffee in a bag I carry. It’s kind of a super power. I can make coffee any where and under any circumstance. (There might be a coffee blog some day)
The hardest part of the mobile life is things like a regular shower, having enough drinking water when the weather is hot, finding shade in the summer in the flat lands of the midwest and Texas, keeping warm in the colder weather. There is a bit of mythology about it costing less. It doesn’t. You trade paying for a space with paying for daily gas. There are still bills to pay, storage locker, and cellphone, groceries, etc…. I have my concerns about the environmental impacts of driving all the time. All and all I’m making it work. I have to. And like all things this to shall pass. One day at a time.
From this perspective I have seen the country in a different way. Driving puts one the level of everyone. I drive through towns and cities. The rural and empty places. The rough and dirty…The dried dead places where metal doesn’t rust and the sky is huge and blue. The red rocks and the mirrored reflection of the sky in the salt flats creating a surreal landscape in Utah. Tent cities along streets, in empty lots in Oakland and Santa Cruz. The vacant buildings, gas stations, faded rusty signs, worn down homes of people struggling and forgotten under a merciless sun in the flatness of Kansas and Oklahoma. Wind mills in Texas.. The blooming valleys of almonds and oranges in the Spring as the snow cover mountains rise above them in California. The snow covered peaks of alpine ridge in the Rockies…. trucks carrying bees to pollinate nut and fruit trees. The stirring colors of yellow, purple and red in the Sonora desert in Southern Arizona… Oil refineries, flooded fields, mountains of rotting soybeans… Sunset in the Mojave desert, the Mississippi river swollen far beyond it banks… the insane traffic in Houston. Sun rise traveling on the Tappanzee bridge over the Hudson river… grid lock in Boston… a small quirky art colony in Lucas Kansas….
So much diversity and richness. Love and fear. Life without surrender. It chugs along. Clanking and sputtering… coughing… and weezing. Then shifts gears. It finds its pace and purrs along… covering time and distance. Buildings rise. Fields are harvested. People commute to work. Networks hum. The remains of the day set with the sun to sleep it off until next morning ready to repeat it again.
All that life force and more mixed with the kindness of strangers and the opportunities to witness people living their lives as best they can. Some are racing a clock that is counting down their usefulness and defining the worth of their spirit. Some fear a God who knows all their failings and bargains with them a heaven if they turn themselves over to his son.
The long slow sunsets across the midwest that burn the sky down along a seemingly flat earth giving way to a great arch of the milkyway from horizon to horizon….
There are days when it feels like I am timeless. I’m passing through the world in a different kind of time. There are the deja vu moments, lonely moments, silly moments and in awe moments. Each of these moments linking up to make the pattern that becomes the road ahead of me materializing… mesmorizing… disappearing behind me. I’m this traveling strange figure of androgynousness rolling through places curious and aware of the fragile persistence that holds all this together.
2019 has been amazing, demanding and asking me to push beyond what I know into a lot of unknowns. I am wondering what 2020 has in store for me.
I want to give a shout out to all the wonderful people who have been generous and kind.
This is a Spontaneous Video and Soundscape from a walk a long the beach. The captured images are the documentation of the waves and stones as they interact together along the tideline.
Collaborations with nature are an exercise in listening, seeing and then engaging. This spontaneous Symphony that I’m offering in video is about sharing an experience with an audience that captures the visual and audio composition that a place in nature offers us. This exploration is my attempt at composing the language of a place utilizing the “words” and “grammar” of the movement, light, sound and scent of a place.
My training in the visual art taught me how to see. How to frame and compose an image that is interesting, intriguing and engaging.
The ocean has been a deep and loyal companion in my life. The sound of the waves and the sensory richness of the salt air, wind, sun, rain etc…. have inspired and healed me. It’s rhythms are the stuff of archetypal and primordial connections. I dream the oceans as the great sources of all life here on earth.
Working with music and exploring different instruments has given me a sense of how to listen and play with others. I don’t think there is really another method that requires the same kind of dymamic of exchange. To create music with others is an exercise in being full present to add, subtract, pause, engage and have a musical conversation.
Drumming has been my primary focus for music. I have played wood winds, flutes and some string instruments. They all offer a different way of expression.
The world has many percussive traditions that have rhythms for almost every task or experience. Some tell a story. Some are the sound tracks to the social structures of a culture.
I use this understanding of music to listen to the world around me. I listen for the melodies and phrases that are constantly composed by the winds, rain, birds, tree leaves, ocean waves… etc…. and using this rich saturation of sounds for video and soundscaping.
Today we listen and we see what the waters have to say…..
Seeing the world from as many perspectives as we can will enable a deeper understanding of how we must take care of it.
When I’m out in the world I collect images and snippets of videos as a kind of digital sketch book to learn and explore what is around me. Some will end up in larger projects. Some will be just inspired content for painting and drawing.
We are entering into the time of year that is celebrated for the birth of Gods, Kings, return of Solar light and flames in lamps that burn far past their fuel source. A time for miracles. A time for celebrating life and the introspection supported by long nights.
November to February is the darkest time of the year here in the northern hemisphere. The sun hangs lower in the sky. The air it chilled. We all seem to answer a primordial call to connect to this light. Spiritual and secular traditions have evolved to track the Sun and it’s position. Giving rise to calendars, divination, and predictions for the seasons ahead. As our knowledge has grown about the universe so has our understanding of the cosmic forces and planetary dynamics that show us the movements of celestial bodies.
Neil Degrass Tyson has stated we are star stuff. The universe is in us.
Deep in us is a memory. Deep in our bones. Living in the proteins of our DNA. It evolved from a very distant past ancestor before we became this complex creature. It started in the first oceans. Back to the time of a great miracle. The beginnings social behaviors, cooperation and collaboration. These events changed the evolution of this planet. In the dark depths of melted comets and frozen space waters… down deep… in the dark….the primordial oceans along the thermal vents that spewed nutrients into the waters… where the Sun’s rays no longer reached. The first single celled bodies formed.
These are our ancestors. Protocells. All the genetic material we are made of began with them. No eyes. No hearts. No brains. No nuecleus. No cell wall. No means of movement other than drifting with the water currents tidal influences. They are called prokaryotes, the first biological life forms.
These first ancestors in order to survive learned to split molecules in their primitive digestive systems to feed themselves and explore the environment. This digestive process also peoduced some of the atmospheric gases that make up the air that creatures breath here on Earth.
As these prokaryotes drifted and multiplied into the ocean. Rising higher up in the waters they began to encounter a light and sense a warmth. This was the Sun. During this time the diet of these protocells was most likely hydrogen sulphide and carbon monoxide molecules. These molecules were present in the waters.
The light particles from the Sun passed through them as they floated in the waters with such speed that it shattered the molecules they were feeding on. And this encounter with light particles changed the internal structures in these proto cells to utilized this new tool. Evolution happened and the first chloroplast formed.
From this very beginning an infinate unfolding of behaviors and mutations have occurred to generate more complex evolutionary structures. Eyes. Brains. Internal and external cells and skin. Fins. Fish. Insects. Bones. Everything we see from the biological perspective of this planet started in the early oceans.
When life left the oceans our relationship to the sun shifted again. The Sun moved across the sky in a cyclical manner that produced times of light and dark. Day and night. These short cycles locked into longer cycles of the planetary dynamics creating seasonality. This produced more biological diversity to create and survive in multiple ecological environments.
Life moved in a rhythmic relationship to the sun. Plants follow the sun to feed then selves through photosynthesis. Birds migrate to nesting grounds. Seeds germinate to the warmth of the sun…. Animals hibernate in the winter. Lizards sun themselves to warm their blood.
Eventually we hominids appeared. Our evolution and relationship to the rhythms of the Sun became a journey of curiousity, exploration and engagement. These relationships can be seen in the hunter gathering, agricultural, migration , and settlements of humans. Depending on the place humans created mythologies and stories to mark the changes and map out the certainties. From this art, calendars, music, plantings, harvesting and the curiosity that became over time science and technologies.
All this brings us to this time of year in the northern hemisphere. Where a west ward moving star, our Sun, lights the day and follows a path across the sky. We bless it’s magic, mystery, the laws of physics and nature it embodies. With all the human diversity of spirit and science. It continues to feed, warm and inspire us.
How do we stop using the single use disposable items in our lives?
I ask this not as a way to shame or to point out the glut of plastics in the oceans. We have way too much guilt and blame circulating around everything today. Through the intense echo chamber of social media we are entrained to respond to it in an emotional Pavlovian response. In my mind this is not helpful. It continues a cycle of self depreciation and at it’s worst a kind of self hating because one thinks/feels they are not doing enough.
My intention with the question is to explore a conversation towards sustainable actions. There will most likely be other blog posts that explore more specifics. For today I would like to write about what I think are the roots of this mind set in a disposable society. I’m taking a Western European view on this because that is my background. I am fully aware this is not the case all over the world and with different cultures. I can say the diaspora of this mind set and economic growth has influenced and infiltrated the most remote areas of the globe with dire consequences. Everyone is now affect in some way by the global epidemic.
Where to begin…. There was a shift in societies when the industrial revolution happened which was around 1760 in Britain. Prior to that shift almost everything was made by someone by hand. Artisans, trades and craftspeople were the predominate design and manufacturing force that drove and grew the economy of most major cities. This was also a time where people made things at home. Weaving, sewing, wood carving, blacksmithing, pottery…. etc were considered desirable skills that contributed to the health and sustainability of a town or city. People took pride in the making of a good quality product. It was backed by your name and your reputation. There was also the provenance of a lineage… where something came from. It held a connection to a person, place or story. Things were not just things they were part of a social/cultural network of people and the world they lived in.
I also want to say people worked really hard just to survive during this time. Life was lived very close to the edge. Sanitation, disease, nutrition, etc…. were still in a place of mystery. People died young. Children didn’t survive. People feared God and who ever owned their land, taxes, failed crops. Hard work made you worthy of life and could get you a place in heaven.
How a society processes life and death says a lot about how they engage with the world around them. A society that recognizes the fragility of life will create methods and ways to sustain a future for those who live beyond them. This can look like passing on skills, a craft, how to plant trees and prune them, tools that have been part of a multi generation of a particular trade etc…. They saw the fruits of their labor, the gift of life itself asan enduring legacy. Carrying the memories of a person or family. What was created became the story that lived on in time.
The Industrial revolution is recognized by significant changes in economic structures, import/export, and the concept of mass manufacturing, chemical manufacturing, machines, mechanized factories. This centralized the labor force, created wages and depersonalization of the products being made. This change in how things are made began a systemic decline over the next three hundred years of the environment, society, and the quality of products made.
There is obvious stresses to the environment. Manufacturing requires materials like steel, cotton, petroleum…. etc….which creates growth in other markets and this in turn sacrifices the land, soil, and the environment for production.
The industrial revolution pushed the environment and humanity to the outer edge of value in society and made money and consumption the center of social growth. There were times during this 300 year time line where things shifted and workers got rights, fair wages, 40 hour work week…. eventual environmental protections… Protected lands. This has always been a fragile balance that is easily tipped over when the mechanism of Capitalism flexes it’s muscle. We are seeing that today. Again.
This is where the seeds of our disposable society began. It has been a calculated and deliberate method of conditionsing to get a social structure in place to sustain an elite economic class at the expense of people, society and the environment. This was the long term game of this marketing effort to get people to consume and distract them from casualties of these behaviors, feel good about purchasing, and alluding to abundance. This is Capitalism. To be able to buy something became a status symbol. It showed you were successful.
Another thing to take note of is the change in the focus of spiritual,secular and religious holidays. They have gone from a celebration of family, the land, service, good health, honoring brave and amazing people, etc…. to gross celebrations of consumption. Every holiday is a sale. Most of it is cheap throw away plastic. This exemplifies how as a society we have been corralled into a system that forces out meaning and replaces it with disposable consumption. It really is no different than telling people they can not practice their faith or beliefs. The church did it to indigenous people for a couple thousand years. Capitalism does it to whoever it needs to manipulate to get it needs met.
Today we are part of a system that divides us and keeps us separate on many levels. Our expected task is to move forward. Leave the past and move ahead. Don’t grieve. Don’t question. Don’t feel. Don’t think. Capitalism has narrowed the road and made it so stepping off the path or stopping is a recipe for catastrophic failure. So people do…. work… participate in psuedo social experiences that are geared to spike our dopamine levels and keep us sedated. We recognize the emptiness and yet feel powerless…. distracted…. overwhelmed.
The system of Capitalism that grew out of the industrial revolution is only sustainable through the power of purchasing more goods. This feeds the beast. This encourages cheaper products that are made not to last. It also created a system of unfixable products. Products that were used once thrown away and purchased again… and again.
The other part of this Capitalist system is to demonize the arts and dumb down the society. It also has little to no room for the individual unless they are contributing to the Capitalist model. As the world has embraced these mioptic views of success and economic growth it has driven down wages, set unrealistic social expectations and that in turn forces people to purchase cheaper and cheaper goods that further the destruction of each other and the world.
The industrial revolution and Capitalism have brought us here. We live in a systemically dysfunctional economy that promotes and encourages a disposable lifestyle and the consequences are what we are seeing today. How this will change is going to take a great effort from all sectors of the economy and the social hierarchies that we have created.
In the next part of this serious I will explore some ideas around making changes, what is possible, what realistic. Evolutionary changes happen cooperative unity and adaptations. Our progress has changed the world somethings will be changeable and other we will have figure out how to live with.