Landscape Encounters and Transformations
Sensing site and sight.
Beginning in the Blackboard Cafe this session took the form of a silent circular walk around the interior and exterior of the building. The route was traced by the dragging of a large chalk rock which mirrored the chalk drawing of the walk on the wall. Upon encountering each work, the rock was placed in front of it for a short while before being dragged onto the next.
Covering many interpretations of what is meant by landscape the works were pulled together by the walk, locating each artwork as a specific viewpoint within the landscape of the building.
The discussion that followed focused on the silent procession as a way of viewing and the geological nature of the work itself. In particularly this focused on the source of the chalk that defined the walk and the pigment located at the end of the walk, as being from the same site as rock used within Robert Smithson’s work.
Without being given a direct instruction, people began following the dragging of the rock in a unified formation
I realised that the session had started when I noticed that most of the people around me were silent. Therefore, it seemed to me that what I was noticing was ‘absence’ and that the session had possibly been set up in this way to motivate me to try and reclaim something or move toward a ‘landscape encounter’. I hardly spent any of my time watching the chalk being dragged into each room, rather, I was chasing it down. I wanted to see the hand-off between each person because despite an absence of chatter, there was a kind of energy to the process: something about being in a crowd, something about the distance covered, it was like watching the Olympic torch being handed over and wondering (morbidly hoping) that it would go out but knowing that everyone is so into it that it wouldn’t really matter…
There was a mix of representations of and experiences of landscape, and what was most interesting was how this session seemed to propose this mixture ambiguously. For instance, there was a book with drawings of mountains, but it was also set up as a mountain range. It reminded me of Nam Jun Paik’s “3 Eggs” and opened up ideas for me about the simulacra. I followed the chalk being dragged into the last room and then realised what was going to happen. The chalk was leading us down the fire escape. Due to my own limitations, I had to turn around at this point and meet up again with the group at the front steps of the Slade Research Centre. This therefore gave me the unusual perspective of having the landscape move toward me — I watched the now sunny procession dragging the ever-shrinking chalk on the rope to the building’s entrance. There was a subtle perspective game because as the chalk ground away on the pavement it came closer and so measured between my fingers, it seemed to stay the same size. From this observation, I thought about the dynamic-and-yet-seemingly-permanant playfulness inherent to own my understanding of landscape.
The final stage of the journey led us up the stairs and this is where things fell apart. People couldn’t resist chatting and numerous shushings were implemented to try and preserve the journey as Christina intended it. The chalk, now cloncking on each step, shattered frequently and left large pieces of debris all the way up. My dream of the torch extinguishing seemed to be near full-realisation, but it wasn’t as easy, funny, or enjoyable as I had imagined. It was visibly upsetting for some, which made me too feel sadness: both for the chalk to seemingly be walked to death and for the Slade Research Centre janitor. The journey ended with the word ‘Ascended’ announced by Sophie, and at this point we were back in the Blackboard Cafe.