In history, there are great names who have practised their daily life in a city environment and come up with deep meditative notifications, for example, Guy Debord`s drifting practices around Paris or Georges Perec`s experiments to write exhaustively everything he experiences in one place in Paris or how he describes the streets of Paris. Oppositely to Debored and Perec, Valdur Mikita, who is an Estonian writer, semiotician, and professor of Liberal Arts at the University of Tartu (In 2013, he wrote a book called “Linguistic forest”, it is a work that highlights and plays with the boundaries of the nature and the culture, connecting it closely with Estonians inherent attitude to keep near contact with a nature and especially with the forest), rather disregards writing as a perception interpretation and strongly believes in physical experiences, while being in the forest.
INTRODUCTION TO CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
Mikita speaks a lot about synaesthesia, the physical body and its bonds with the forest. He believes that it goes against human nature to live in a global cultural space and that there is a lack of knowledge about how to develop your own personal world and evolve personal physical sense perceptions. He believes that it is necessary to spend some time alone in the forest. He thinks that to deal with forms of individual consciousness, it is necessary to have isolation and traditions, which are rather impossible to achieve under the conditions of global culture. (Mikita, 2013, p205, 233)
PLAY SIMULTANEOUSLY PLEASE
SOUND ON PLEASE
is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway (e.g., hearing) leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway (e.g., vision). Simply put, when one sense is activated, another unrelated sense is activated at the same time. This may, for instance, take the form of hearing music and simultaneously sensing the sound as swirls or patterns of colour. Since synesthesia can involve any combination of the senses, there may be as many as 60 to 80 or subtypes, but not all have been documented or studied, and the cause is unclear. (Psychology Today, no date)
Synesthesia eliminates the difference in oral and written expressions because `writing is a somatic practice`, such as gesticulation and finger drawing: `Rituals, spells and magic signs are ancient written systems, written with fingers and invisible ink, with great excitement` (Mikita, 2013, p. 45) `Culture and language, rather, harmonize the sense of human cognition rather than develop what is actually present in people`. (Mikita, 2013, p. 27) Mikita explains his thought by discussing how the brain might retain its adaptability when the physiological variability is rich. He gives an example of how in archaic culture, smaller groups of people still needed to find a way to maintain cultural diversity as in bigger groups, yet, in smaller ones, the people must have been more contrasting, while in bigger groups, people may have been allowed to be part of the mass. (Mikita, 2013, p. 27) Mikita thinks that people are tired of existing in two civilizational systems, which are the Hellenistic institutional culture and the writing system. That there is a personal inner call [italics original] in every human, it is a symbol system, superseded to the periphery of human perception by writing and cultural development. (Mikita, 2013, p. 35)
Mikita has his own forest practises, where he lets his creativity fly and combines his visual sensations, which trigger spontaneous sensations of touch, with a movement of his hand or all body. I would like to map out some of his practices, some I will combine together, and some I will leave as they are:
Finding dance scores inside of the three bark patterns, what bark beetles have left.
Finding dance scores from the cloves, soil fractures, dropped down pine needles, tree rings ect.
Thoroughly sketch a personal signature on sand or soil, and later on make the same with words.
To find “nature neumes” inside of trees, which were medieval musical notation. The name probably meant breathing (Greek pneuma - 'wind', 'breath'). Trying to sing through them. (Mikita describes this skill more in his book).
“Monkeywild” - tree climbing visualization
“Dancewild” - Creating the world by waving, typing and drawing with your hand.
As a child, I spent my whole summers in the countryside, deep in the middle of the forests and fields of Estonia. When I moved out from my small hometown, situated on a peninsula, always gently smelling like the sea, to the university town in the middle of the country, I still found myself enjoying southern Estonian forests and the big lake. The Lake of Viljandi was visible from the city centre at the top of the hill and also from my home window. I did not lose anything, just learned a new way to see the water from a high distance, and I still continued my walks to the forest and close to the water. I did not question different realities that somewhere might be different, it was so natural sometimes to choose to be alone and find myself in the forest or close to the water. Parks are different, even when they have a lot of trees, they are not forests, maybe because of the knowledge that you cannot be alone. There is always someone walking a dog or reading a book. It feels like it does not give you a chance to be “lost” and practice some strange movements or scream loudly if you get the feeling to do so.
This research idea started to grow from a hazy feeling way back when I moved to London in 2017. I suddenly felt that there is not much space around me, and where ever I go, I cannot be alone. Although I felt socially isolated in the city, I was still looking for a physical space in nature to be alone. I can say that this strange feeling and sensation was physical and sometimes „painful“. Now, I am sincerely questioning whether there is a way to make space around someone, even in a buzzing city situation like London. The way might be unusual and perhaps practice what is still undiscovered. In this project, this is one of my interests to be found: how to “make space” and manage the city “noise” in the street in a way that makes me feel like I am in the forest. Here is my petite romantically hypothetical research question: Can the city be my forest? Through this question, I formalised a pray-like title: Noise management: City be my forest which already forms and manifests itself every time I will say or think about it.
Two different isolations
Mikita thinks that it is necessary to have isolation and traditions of spending time in the forest, yet, this might be rather impossible to achieve under the conditions of global culture. Guy Debored in his book called “The Society of the spectacle”, speaks about isolation as well as an outcome of capitalism:
The reigning economic system is founded on isolation; at the same time it is a circular process designed to produce isolation. Isolation underpins technology, and technology isolates in its turn; all goods proposed by the spectacular system, from cars to televisions, also serve as weapons for that system as it strives to reinforce the isolation of "the lonely crowd." The spectacle is continually rediscovering its own basic assumptions and each time in a more concrete manner. (Debored, 1994)
In my research, besides dealing with the street and physically experiencing the city to evolve personal physical sense perceptions, I will also discuss isolation and globalisation and ask the question of how one creates another and what ground and reality we need to cultivate our individual consciousness.
Performance and everydayness
`Any and all of the activities of human life can be studied “as” performance.` (Schechner, 2013, p29) According to Schechner, performances occur in eight sometimes separate, sometimes overlapping situations: in everyday life (cooking, socializing, “just living”), in the arts, in sports and other popular entertainments, in business, in technology, in sex, in ritual (sacred and secular) and least in play. (Schechner, 2013, p31) This research proposal will look specifically at performance and performativity in everyday life context.
It is understandable that human performances take place as action, interaction, and relation, but does performance take place also in objects? According to Schechner we can treat any objects, work, product “as” performance, as it means to explore what the object does. How the object interacts with other beings or objects and how the object relates to other beings or objects. Schechner argues that performance isn’t “in” anything, but it is in “between.” That the performer in ordinary life does or shows something – performs an action. (Schechner, 2003, p30) This research proposes to study both human and object performances as a relationship to place, space, other humans and objects.
Everyday life acts are happening in various locations, in private places, lonely places, in nature and in the city, and in different public spaces. In this research, to be able to grasp something specific and unclear, I will take into account the object's performance “between” in urban environments and also in nearby natural landscapes.
Can a city be my forest
I am curious how can we fully dedicate ourselves to this transformation? How do we suppose to feel when the street becomes a forest, how do we know that the change happened?
I am curious how could our subtle everyday collective performances in the urban space influence and affect everyone around us?
I find it relevant to explore the importance of both human and object performances as a relationship to place, space, other humans and objects through different tension and cognitive practices. I will take an example from some well-known and not-so-well-known artists and thinkers like Georges Perec, Guy Debord, Valdur Mikita, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Kalle Kataila, Peeter Laurits etc. and develop my own workshops and sessions to lead the process.
I am questioning the city environment. I am questioning whether we really know what are the consequences of living in the city? I am questioning the need of silence, natural order, the necessity being alone physically, the need of taking time to respond, rather than making impulsive decisions day by day by pulling them out faster and even faster form our guts and brains. Why do I feel anxious and stressed within the city environment, but calm and steady in the country or forest? If it is impossible to change what the urban spaces, cosmopolitan cities, can not offer to us, what forest does, how can I change myself? Can I even do something about it? Here is my naively romantic research question:
CAN CITY BE MY FOREST?
GOAL OF THE RESIDENCY
// To develop and evolve each participant's personal symbol system and physical sense perceptions via physical experiences while being in the forest using Mikita's and mine forest practises, but also to let each participant create their own practices.
// To collectively develop a performative score, which can be performed in urban landscapes but also in the natural landscape.
// To facilitate participants to create their own video or photo collages
1.-2. DAY: First days spending time in the urban landscape, analysing and
studing both human and object performances as a relationship to place, space, other humans and objects. Discussing what could mean in "between" performances in the objects in urban environments and also in nearby natural landscapes.
3.-5. DAY: Discovering and implementing Mikita's and mine forest practises. Facilitating participants to create their own forest practices. Collecting material (photos, videos) both from the urban and natural landscape. Each day finishes with working (editing) with the video (photo) material in pairs or individually.
6. DAY: Researching how to "make space" and manage the city "noise" in the street in a way that makes us feel like we are in the forest - taking forest practices into the city environment, to the streets. Learning the changes of the mind and the body states. Each day finishes with working (editing) with the video (photo) material in pairs or individually.
7. DAY: Finishing video and photo collages
8.-10. DAY: Finding the right performative form out of individual and collaborative practices what is done and creating performance out of it. (Perhaps it is a performance in an urban space, or it could also be performed in the natural landscape, or it also could become a journey between these two spaces. Perhaps it is an installation space exhibiting participants' collected materials and collages, where in the middle the performance is happening, or perhaps it has a strong audience participatory element where they can try out participants' developed synesthesia practices. This all is still in conversation with you; what would you wish to happen.)
11. DAY: Rehearsals and setting up the space.
12. DAY: Resting
13... DAY: Performances
WHAT IS NEEDED:
// Each participant could have two disposable cameras, one for capturing the city environment and one for taking photos in nature.
// Having a spot in the city for developing photos and a budget for this.
// Couple of laptops with editing software in. We can create a rota for each group to work on and create simple collages. I am also Adobe Premiere Pro certified, so I can teach them the most important steps, and I am there to help if they need it. Alternatevly I am sure they have some easier software on their own mobile phones or maybe even laptops. If you think this all is too complicated happy to adjust this plan of creating video collages to something more simple.
// If we do have video materials later on, then for the performance is important to have TV monitors video played from USB or a couple of projectors, screens or simple white fabric.
Certeau, M.d. and Rendall, S. (tr.) (1984) The practice of everyday life. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Debord, G. (1967). The Society of the Spectacle 3th edn. [Online]. Available at: http://www.antiworld.se/project/references/texts/The_Society%20_Of%20_The%20_Spectacle.pdf (Accessed: 3 September 2020).
Mikita, V. (2013). Lingvistiline Mets. (Linguistic Forest). Välgi metsad.
Psychology Today (no date). Synesthesia. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/basics/synesthesia (Accessed: 21 August 2020).
Schechner, R. (2003) Performance Theory. London: Routledge.
Schechner, R. (2013) Performance Studies: An introduction.Oxon: Routledge.