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  • Writer's pictureRitchard Allaway

10/09/22 - Through a Landscape


5th September 2022

Acts of Practice: Through

‘In walking, I find a rhythm that allows me to think-through the relationship between the human and the environment and reconnect multiple times often via the artistic approaches captured.’

This blog conversation examines the content and reflects on the video piece ‘Through’.

The piece ‘Through’ is a fifteen-minute looped video with three repeated clips of one five-minute-long scene. The video shows a green landscape surrounded by woodland. On the left a broken stone wall travels the length of the perspective line. On the right, broken foliage, woodland feature along with a sole tree which is more centralised within the frame. Central and directly in line of the frame, a grassy road lay, which travels like the wall, into the distance of the shot. The road drops at one horizon line, only to bank up slightly to right into the background woodland out of shot.

Audio can be heard within the video piece. Calls of bird song, elements of the wind, gun shots from local farmers and focal movement from the recording equipment as the lens reconfigures itself. No other audio interferes with the video until the sole traveller appears at the latter stages of the video clip. His movement through and along the grassy path can be heard, gradually rising in pitch and tone. The travellers’ boots and clothing react to each connecting material and inject a human sound into the landscape of the video piece. These sounds are brief and do not dominate or control the majority of the video piece but are encountered at the final stages. Once the traveller has passed by the documenting camera, the still picture of the landscape is returned, and the video cycle continues.

With all my residencies I find myself walking for, towards, within, through and from landscapes. Walking plays an integral part within the composition for me experiencing and/or producing work. It is an act within the practice or a method/mean to aid understanding. Creating this video demonstrated the time and the methods involved to connect with a remote landscape. It showcases an area where little or no human element can be found except the remnants of a stone wall and an old road now reclaimed by nature. I was walking from one point in the landscape to another and as the title states, I walked through the space of natural landscape.

From walking it can be viewed as a demonstration of an act of practice. The demonstration itself is an intimate and timely encounter with the natural landscape. I wanted to give clarity to the notion that although I address the intimate factors found within the experiences I have with nature, whether that be through photography, installation(s), sculpture etc, to derive to those outcomes I must enable an act. The act is to walk and to be within or through an area of remote wilderness. Without this method of walking, I reduce the ability to obtain as much possible knowledge from the experience. I want to traverse and be within the lived experienced so that the phenomenological ‘data’ gathered can produce outcomes that transcend the experience as best as possible. I am not stating that I wish to use the experience to re-produce a direct copy of the traversed landscaped but instead use it as way to re-interpret the wilderness.

The compositional make up within the frame was selected due to the direction of leading lines and the surrounding parameters of the woodland forests. When viewing the piece, the audience are directed to centrally focus through the landscape and this is achieved by the positioning of reclaimed natural path. The surrounding forest woodlands act at either side of the frame, drawing the viewer back to the centre along with including a sense of seclusion from the outside world. The depth of the composition works with the concept of the piece allowing for the work to produce part of the desired outcome where time is a concentrated factor.

Outside of the internal frame, I wanted to create a continuation of the viewing experience. The piece is not intended to have an end point and the reason for this will be explained in more detail within the concept section of this blog. Looping the video was a straightforward task and due to the stillness of the camera position, the image in frame would not change and therefore a streamline transition would occur between clips. This streamline transition would give the video a seamless loop.

The Abstract

The piece centres around the encounter with the remote and wild landscape within the North Yorkshire Moors. Lying in wait the landscape is presented to the audience as a tranquil and calming location. Nothing disturbs the audience’s viewing platform as they are welcomed to sit and meditate on what is presented to them. The audience have a direct and intimate encounter with wilderness, one that is hidden and removed from any form of socio chaos. Audiences can sit and be with the landscape and they can observe the movement of nature within an unedited time frame.

There is a patience present, through the duration and through the meditation of viewing. An anticipation grows, either with the viewing experience and/or the intensifying stillness of the landscape. A new encounter is welcomed as the audience bears witness to a lone traveller navigating his own intimate encounter within and through the landscape.

This demonstration of intimacy and movement from the traveller is a constant cycle of encounter and solitude. The traveller has removed themselves from social constructs and constraints and walks within and through a tranquillity that is made up by the interobjectivity of nature.

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