Ainin Art Residency Journal

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Day 1

Started the day by meeting everyone else on the residency, my last chance to talk to the group before silence! Really happy to have been teamed up with the group. The caravan is cold, kind of worried that is going to be hard, I knew it would be cold, but of course it’s different once you actually are in it, I hope I brought enough clothes. I made a bunch of phone calls to say farewell to friends and family before making my vows in my very first live stream. At this time I am really looking forward to not speaking for three weeks, guess we’ll see how long that lasts. I’m quite worried about sleeping though… I usually doze off to something on the screen. I am totally exhausted so hopefully that will be enough.

Day 2

Intended to give myself a full day off to rest and adjust to my new hermit life, but ended up working for a few hours this morning, the trouble is I enjoy my work too much! Or some of it at least.

I did take a very relaxing afternoon and evening. Lora kindly made me dinner, it’s so nice to have a break from cooking and be cared for, but part of me is also looking forward to having my own food so I can avoid even that small contact, I want to push myself into a new space during these weeks, if I don’t go a bit ‘mad’ what’s the point?

Day 3

Feels like first real day of residency today. Started day properly with yoga and meditation (40 mins, my leg was hurting too much to go for full hour, must sit more carefully tomorrow morning) and then worked on computer until my meeting with Ainin Elena. Think it went well, a had the urge to run with her on the video call, was feeling very energetic. My midday Wild Window was interesting. I realise I really need something to hold the phone as I need both hands to explore, so I made a holster from felt (what else?) Which will hopefully work well.

Feeling first pang of… discomfort? Really wanted the hug I gave Lora, is this a sign of the silence beginning to be difficult? Or just the usual ebb and flow of happiness?

I should write how I talk about my work into a poetic speech, like spoken word, I think that would fun. 

Day 4

I’m beginning to hear my own voice a bit louder in my head, or actually I think I’m just hearing it for longer, not louder. I realise, of course, that voice is quiet when you talk with someone or watch something, I suppose because then you are hooked into an external narrative. 

Today was immeasurably invigorating. Walked to perranporth, a walk and place with so many ghosts! I always feel like a child again when I’m in perranporth, memories of bare feet waitressing at the watering hole, or drunken adventures in the sand dunes, across all my ages. 

Keep coming back to this 3D scanning natural surfaces with my human parts inserted, I think the models are gorgeous, but is this one of those just me things? 

So far so good with silence, in fact loving it. The freedom to move from kitchen to forest to bed without interruption is unexpected blissful. Should I worry about that? No I don’t think so.

Day 5

Exhausted. Amazing day which started early, although didn’t manage to make it out until gone 9. Walked to the curving oak and stripped off my clothes. Walking through the mud, my feet sank ankle deep, and the water is icy cold. Messed around with the camera and then followed the sun beams to a strange clearing with the most solum curved truck tree. It sits in the middle of a lit glade like it’s waiting very intentionally for something. A perfect curved back covered with moss. I played with the tree for a while. I feel I am still thinking so anthropologically about the tree. I’ve striped off my clothes to move closer to it, but why should I even feel that helps? Time passed wonderful quickly, at sone point I remembered how bitingly cold it was so a dressed and returned intently awake but shivering. 

Day 6

Hmmmmm warm by the fire, I can sit in a freezing space if I only have a fire. I’ve spread the cushions so that I can read comfortably, and it’s worked sumptuously well. I had intended a lazy day, but spent almost every hour working on the XR Music Video. But work is not the right word because I had so much fun. Today I played all day, and now I have weary limbs, and thumb… 

I saw a deer in the forest whilst investigating lichen. I wish I had more time to sit quietly outside listening to nature, but my desire to work is too strong! Of course I am spending more time outside and that feels every bit as good as I hoped it would. 

Still loving the silence, and the lack of distraction from work. I’m now just getting really curious about how long I will I enjoy this solitude, because right now it feels like it could be an age. 

Day 7 Sunday

The sun became so bright when I ate breakfast by the fire, couldn’t wait to create. As soon as I felt it wasn’t too early I messaged Lora to ask if I could gather more of her beautiful Camelias. They are so perfect for picking, they jump off the branch as perfect complete flowers. I took them back to the caravan, with the sun filled window with a turn table! So perfect for photos it’s bizarre really… if I believed in fate… but I think it’s just that if you are applying the concept of flow/Doa, you will always find “just the thing you need” because you only use what is before you. 

Day 8

Little up and down today, and certainly had the impulse to call mum or wren, as I usually do when I’m blue. The impulse passes though, as do the feelings, as they always must, and it feels ok.

Morning call and meditation with Elena, so ridiculously special to be able to bring her here. The truly miraculous thing is I am seeing this place anew! I’ve been coming here since forever, and I had no idea what a beautiful place it is. I feel like this year has been a continuous process of rediscovering the places we thought we knew so well, because for now we can not go elsewhere.

Cold, it’s very cold, but I’m dealing with it.

Keep having little waves of sadness, not unusual. 

The urge to watch ru Paul remains steadfast.

End of the day, time to read by the fire, feels like it might be nice to talk with someone, but also still lovely to be alone.

Day 9

Discovered yet another new beautiful place here, I was pushing into the little woods, and I found a strange dense stand of pine trees. It felt like a totally different world, with dry soft pine needles covering the floor, perfect to lie on.

I have fingered out the method for the work I want to produce here. I will combine footage of myself bare and exposed in nature, then ‘dress’ myself in digital skins made from 3D scans from the same place. The virtual assemblies embody mutual independence, blending the human body with natural forms into a hybrid which is more then a sun of its parts. Humanities separation from nature is an illusion, a very dangerous one we must correct. I hope people will be unable to dissect the images, to figure out what is “real”. Of course it is all real, taken from the same source and combined by myself using thousands of other humans work in the form of technology. It is physically very demanding to be exposed like that, thank goodness for meditation, but this is a very active type of using meditation techniques to endure. 

Day 10

So my period arrived today, which explains the little waves of sadness. It’s been a solid grey rainy day, but I’m so happy with the pictures I got! I just intended to go for a walk for the Wild Window, but ended up getting totally sucked into making my first full scale sculpture in nature. I gently moved mossy logs to create a pod like form over the river. Then I stripped off my clothes and captured what I could. Taking my clothes off seems like the natural thing to do, it is clear to they are a barrier between myself and the setting. My feet are icy cold in the water, but I find for the time I am in position I do not notice the cold too much. I notice an intense sensation, and if I feel cold I remind myself it is just a sensation. As much as possible when taking the photos I endeavour to put my focus entirely on the living plants and waters around me, and my breath.

I feel a strong desire to make sone kind of gesture of thanks, I want to see if I can borrow some rituals for somewhere, Celtic would be best perhaps. Of course in moving the mossy logs, and just walking around the muddy bank, and can see destruction caused in the previously pristine areas. I remind myself that many animals cause change in their environment, beavers build dams that can change entire ecosystems. I believe in accepting our roles as active parts of nature is critical, rather then the false, and impractical, idea of humans magically removing themselves. I want to have mud beneath my toes and on my hands, to be physically and mentally intertwined. But I also believe that the way we do this is critical:

“The Honourable Harvest asks us to give back, in reciprocity, for what we have been given. Reciprocity helps resolve the moral tension of taking a life. One of our responsibilities as human people is to find ways to enter into reciprocity with the more-than-human world. We can do it through gratitude, through ceremony, through land stewardship, science, art, and in everyday acts of practical reverence”

I did not give enough back today whilst making the sculpted. The entire reason for making it is to draw attention to this place and the forces that threaten it, and I feel I need to in some way share that intention. 

Day 11

Today I captured the footage for the tree painting. There was a strong wind which shook the branches. When I look at the film you can see the movement in the tree branches, but it doesn’t capture how intensely I felt the movement as I clung naked to the arm of the tree. It was hard to stay in position, part of my brain was screaming ‘get out of this tree! It’s dangerous to be up here in this weather’ but another part could not resist the feeling of flying above the forest. My heart beat fast and I was completely focused, on placing my hand and body safely, on resisting the cold of the breeze and of riding the movement. I was very aware of the life and movement all around me, of which I was a part. I could not stop from gasping and exclaiming. 

Day 12

Day started so well, edited photos and then packed ready big beach capture. I found an amazing site, pushing on past the first few that looked good. I used fire breath work to warm my body and bring focus. I need to prepare my body, but most importantly my mind, for dealing with the cold water and wind. It’s an intense experience. I think today I certainly found more of the ceremony, something I feel strongly wants to become a central part of this. I was very happy with the film I got, but due to my forgetting the remote control I wasn’t able to get the photos. Then nature stepped in, the tide came in so quickly it made it impossible to fix my mistake. I was getting all worked up about it because of this whole ceremony and schedule I had thought out, and then I remembered Alan Watts words “it’s all a dance” don’t take things too seriously, it’s all an illusion! 

Day 13

Rest day. I read all day by the fire, was on to my third book by bedtime. I walked up to the field, and listened for a while. So nice to wander and do nothing.

Day 14

Finally got all the photos done today! After a good morning of editing I headed back to the beach. I had plenty of energy, and after Maria’s extra special cocoa (with some coffee) I was warm and ready. The photos went well I think, so now I believe I have all the images and video for these painting. I lugged a large stone back from the beach for scanning.

I rewarded myself with a special shower, using Maria’s classy lotions and potions, now I’m by the fire. It’s warmer today, so I’m able to sit comfortably here in a blanket and silk pjs, which is a nice relief after being so cold and wrapped up.

My shins and ankles are bruised and scratched, by I am happy to see these marks on my skin, they represent the physical interaction I’ve had with nature this week.

Day 15

Editing editing editing

Day 16

Finished editing earlier then expected, was able to move with energy to drawing.

Really surprised myself with what I drew, it truly did seem like the drawings were already there, and I discovers them!

Day 17

Writing a prayer of gratitude 

Today I have come to a place is the forest which clearly used to be a dump. Everywhere else is so pristine, it’s heartbreaking to come across the careless waste strewn about.

As an act of healing to the forest, and subsequently to myself who is a part of this place, I spent some time clearing some of the rubbish. You receive what you give! I really find this to be true! Not in a hocus pocus way, but in a logical energy in energy out sort of way. Whilst clearing I discovered some of the clear glass jars that I was collecting had ting green worlds contained. The forest had made some terrariums. I accepted them as a gift.

Day 18

A wonderful day, although I didn’t achieve much! I feel wonderfully happy and calm though. The great thing about preparing things early enough for Elena to edit is I’ve already pushed myself to produce the work. So now I can play with all the pieces we’ve created. I spent the morning preparing things for B, and then dived into the forest.

I walked through the mud and mayhem, taking some videos for Nat and enjoying numerous small miracles along the way. The discovery of water mint, the reveal of a trees root system, the terror/excitement of being startled by a pheasant bursting out the undergrowth. 

I discovered yet more terrains in this small universe, moving from pines to swamp to forest, sone boundaries disincentive sone blurred. I still can not believe what variety and wonder there is in these woods! As children we had a wonderful time running around, but I never explored like this. Creating the Wild Windows has directed my gaze in different ways. 

Day 19

Another intensely good day, I wasn’t expecting this period, it’s like I’ve done the work I expected myself to do, so now these days are an extra gift in which too go beyond my expectations. 

I went to beach to collect some last videos, and because I wanted to immerse myself in water as a cleanse at the end of the residency. Removing all non human elements from my body, hairpins, clothes etc. I built a fire to warm myself. In building the fire with the intention to cleanse myself I found the whole activity to be very different then before. Rather then just blowing on the embers, I was in fact doing my breathing exercises. I leant into this discovery, and with red streaming eyes I found myself vibrating with cold, heat, clarity and focus. My hands and feet where tingling, as I have felt before during the more intense parts of sex. Fire is technology, yet also seems fundamentally natural in its elemental embodiment, because if course nature and technology are only separate in our modern perception. Once I was warm and I could see the fire was really going I walked bare to the water. I endeavoured as much as possible not to allow the biting cold of the water to shock me out my trance. I submerged myself three times, as has often been the case in these interactions I did not plan to do so. It is unusual for me to be spontaneous, usually I plan everything. In retrospect I repeated it three times in an echo of turning the cup three times in tea ceremony. The repetition communicated intention, and as I repeated the action it became easier. This has been true across the three weeks, at first taking my clothes off outside seemed almost impossibly cold, but I have already learnt that my, and probably most of our bodies, could take the cold, especially if I stopped fighting it. Not that I wasn’t shivering hard and grateful to dress again, but I enjoyed a brief period where I did not notice the lack of protection, and I was moving around the rocks unbothered by my nakedness.

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