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Encounters with nature

Second installation project of the year.

“Encounters with Nature” investigates issues regarding how we perceive ourselves within the natural environment and how, by challenging this perception, we can build a new and deeper connection with the natural world.  The installation aims at  making the viewer aware of its own presence in terms of vibrations or alteration/production of those, which in this piece are manifested through sound. By making the viewers self aware of the impact that their presence has on the environment, the piece amplifies a process of exchange of vibrations within our surroundings that already exists. These vibrations lie at the basis of our  existence, everything is vibrations, everything is formed of small particles that vibrate within the emptiness of the space. In a world of vibrations there are no limits, everything is a whole, everything is equal. The exchange of vibrations that occurs everyday with the natural realm isn’t just an energy flow, it is a mean of communication, of connectedness. Once we’ll understand that we are all equal living beings that  just operate and communicate in different ways, that if we cannot understand the language of plants it does not mean that there isn’t one, that if we are not educated to the systems of vibrations as a way of communication it does not mean that it does not exist,  that there is mind in nature; once we’ll evolve and no longer perceive ourselves as superior to plants, then we will be able to form real connections, to understand nature better, preserving and respecting it for what it is.

The process of making

After I designed the wooden structures, which I call bells, I collected all the waste wood present in the wood workshop and started cutting it according to the design.
I wanted to keep them simple but at the same time have the possibility to be combined of different kinds of wood, so that each one of them would have had a unique sound.

Once all the pieces were cut, I started sanding the edges and assembling the bells. Although I designed a structure that was really simple, it took me a few days to finish all the bells since some types of wood were harder than expected and it became really difficult to work with those pieces and nail them together.

Since I felt the studio space and timings were being a restriction once again I brought the work home, where I finished the bells. First I used wood filler to cover the wholes and then I covered the whole surfaces with glue so that the bells would have been waterproof and therefore more resistant to the English weather.

The sound

For what concern the research for sound, I found in drifted wood and conkers the best solution.

First I tried to understand what was the best shape that would have allowed whatever i would have put inside the bells to produce noise that would sound natural. The biggest problem was that I needed a big oscillation in order to make the inside knock against the outside, but this was no possible due to risk assessment. So I came up with these long shapes that could contain multiple particles which would have had to be almost the same size of the wooden structures.

I wanted to use completely recycled materials for the whole project so I went to the park and collected a lot of different objects ( pieces of wood, sticks, stones…) to then test them at home.
After a few experiments I figured out that hardened conkers and small pieces of processed wood sticks (drifted wood) were my best option.

So I combined them in different ways inside each bell, attaching them to thinner strings so that to facilitate the inner oscillation and this was the resulting sound.

The location

While I was creating the bells, I was also looking for a suitable location where to install them.

I wanted the piece to be immersed in trees and cooperate/adjust to pre-existing structures provided by trees. In a way, I wanted the viewers to perform for the trees, to introduce themselves within the plants’ environment and language instead of the opposite.

I was looking for a space that was somehow narrow so that the person experiencing the piece couldn’t avoid the hitting of the bells, therefore producing sound.

I found at least three decent options, but at the end i chose this sort of hidden location, results of the fall of a tree on others. I liked its private and in a way secret quality of the place, furthermore, the fact that you had to look for it and make the decision to enter the space made it a lot safer and conscious.

Installing

Thanks to the help of some people, I managed to get the installation up in two days. Of course the cold weather and short days did not help but we managed to get the work done by the dead line that we had fixed.

Documenting

The documentation of the work happened to be extended on multiple days due to the quality of the weather.
It is divided in different day times, with different lights because I though of this piece as a permanent site specific work, and wanted to have it accessible all day, every day., even at night time.

Besides the photographic documentation, I also tried to make a video of the piece, so that I could show it to people who could not move from their homes. I tried to present it like a journey through the space, so that people could sort of experience the moving through the space, in correspondence with the sound.
Unfortunately, once again, due to the limited resources, the quality of the video is not ideal, especially because of the lack of a proper stabiliser.

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Overall I am quite happy with this work. It was supposed to be just a study for a large scale installation I wanted to do in the park, but actually I might just like the private aspect that this location has, it gives you intimacy.