Lodged, Land Shift, Silent Spring, Duke’s Wood and others
Tomorrow, Amy Todman is hosting the above evening, including new works and contributions by the people listed on the left hand side. I’m unfortunately not able to make it to Glasgow for it (no trips until I finish my PhD!), but I’ll be sending a new chapbook which I’ve just finished work on, GLOSS, below – which is pencilled in for publication later this year by the brilliant Corbel Stone Press, which I have written about here previously. The work, about lithology, ice, and language, involves text and diagrams on recto and verso, related to the standardised glossaries made from the 1950s onwards by explorers such as Charles Swithinbank with the Scott Polar Research Institute, originally for use on international radio maps – particularly the Illustrated Glossary of Snow and Ice. I’ll update on any information if it gets ahead.
Some other new works which will be coming out soon: my visual poem Fructus is to be published in the forthcoming Anthology of the Apple (Nine Arches Press), edited by Yvonne Reddick and George Ttoouli, and my poem ‘Claviceps’ is to be published in the forthcoming fungi-themed issue of PAN (Philosophy, Activism, Nature). Finally, my first chapbook, Suckers, originally featured here as part of the Lex-ICON project, is to be published as a sequence in the forthcoming ‘literary ecology’ issue of Dandelion. This is following up for a talk I gave at Birkbeck to members of the Dandelion postgraduate research network, for the June symposium, Silent Spring: Chemical, Biological and Technological Visions of the Post-1945 Environment.
In terms of recent talks, I spoke at Toynbee Theatre on global forestry and the history of standardised forestry glossaries at the Poetry and the Dictionary symposium in Oxford last month, followed by a talk on forest memory at Tom Chivers’ Land Shift, part of the Two Degrees festival. It was a beautiful venue, and myself and Justin Hopper each gave talks, as well as (below) Tom reading from his ADRIFT, Michael Symmons Roberts discussing standing water and edgelands, and Leafcutter John playing electromagnetic recordings of Hackney Marshes.
Finally, I gave a talk at the Report on the Archive symposium at the Pelz Gallery, convened by Holly Pester to tie in with her exhibition, Intellectual Tactility: An Exhibition of the Text Art Archive. A brief review of the day’s events is here at the Archive of the Now; the presentations were on archiving, archiving theory, and curatorial practice, by archivers, practitioners, curators, and researchers, Below, some of the images from Holly’s installation, which exhibited, amongst other things, constellations of curatorial emails, playfully making visible the behind the scenes discussion threads as themselves exhibits.
Last month I also published the most recent Land Diagram, Land Diagram 4. This paired dendrochronologist Mike Baillie, author of A Slice Through Time: Dendrochronology and Precision Dating, on ‘thinking catastrophically’, and environmental historian Paul Warde on a single trunk’s ‘wooden question mark’. As is the format for Land Diagrams, both scholars were responding to one image, without any context or consulting each other, applying their different disciplinary takes in their separate readings of the image (which is below).
The next Land Diagram, Land Diagram 5 (already visible on the site), will pair two scholars on the topic of marine archaeology, underwater drawing, and shipwrecks, also bringing in the angle of the cultural aesthetics of underwater space. It should be published within the next few months. In an unintended way, it follows up on the previous PASSENGERFILMS screening we convened, which paired Allan Sekula and Noel Burch’s The Forgotten Space with Rona Lee’s That Oceanic Feeling.
Below, an image from the screening of Rona Lee’s film, which used black and white underwater footage from the National Oceanography Centre, alongside voice-over extracts from Luce Irigaray’s Amant Marine: De Friedrich Nietzsche (‘get away from the sea – she is far too disturbing – she blurs faces and memories…’). The conversation which followed between Rona Lee, Alex Colas, and Phil Steinberg (author of The Social Construction of the Ocean) investigated ideas of mechanical vision in underwater space, and the hierarchies (and ‘hydrarchies’) of ocean transportation space.
We’re currently in the process of planning the year’s programme of PASSENGERFILMS screenings next year, beginning with an event on the spectacle of captive animals, cinema, and what Anat Pick calles ‘Cine-zoos’. The full programme will be available before the next academic year begins, but screenings will be starting in October.
Final event coming up: I am going to be taking part in the Duke’s Wood Project, a new artistic programme taking place primarily at the Dukes Wood nature reserve and former oil field located in rural Nottinghamshire, and exploring subjects of ecology, place, cultural and historical geography, and their relationship to contemporary art practice. Dukes Wood, close to the Nottinghamshire village of Eakring, is a site of distinct historical and environmental significance, located on the U.K’s first onshore oilfield (and once a secret military installation), now a nature reserve supporting a rich eco-system. As part of the various projects and performances outlined on the blog, I will be participating in the opening, on August 31st and September the 1st, staying overnight in a bower built by the artist Alec Finlay along with architect Keven Langan, and then giving a reading in the woodland clearing during the walks on the following day. I’m currently planning on working with an adaptation of the various historical translations of Buile Shuibhne concerning the episode in which Sweeney takes refuge in the trees, often referred to as ‘Sweeney in the Trees’ (I have been comparing various versions, by Heaney, Barry MacSweeney, and many others).
Finlay has written at length about this bower project, seen in his plans and sketches above, here, including the different histories of arbors and forest shelters in literature and culture. Some of the models he has consulted are below, which he has collected with Amy Todman; he has also worked with Hanna Tuulikki on assembling examples from text, such as the following lines from Frances James Child’s The English and Scottish Popular Ballads:
a little to yonder green bower there sit down to rest you
and has he broke your bigly bowers? or has he stole your fee
and he came to the ladie’s bower-door, before the day did dawn
and then my love built me a bower, bedeckt with many a fragrant flower
and when he came to Fair Margaret’s bower, he knocked at the ring
and ye may swear, and save your oath, your bower I never tread
who is this at my bower-door, sae well that kens my name?
I will probably be quite quiet on this blog for the next two or three months, as my PhD is due soon (in fact very soon!). But if anyone is able to make it to the Duke’s Wood event, then I’ll see you there!