Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Silent Fall

Let me explain something that's been on my mind. I’ll try to be clear.

I am surprised that there hasn’t been a stronger creative response to our global environmental predicament, the self-destructive course of our civilisation, the general state of the world. In fact, when I stop to think about it, I am shocked.

Collectively, we are tearing the life-support systems from beneath ourselves and future generations. This is well understood. I won't repeat the science here. I won't remake the arguments. The issues on countless fronts are more alarming than ever. The trends are clear.

Yet you could be excused, upon entering a music store or the fiction section of a book shop, for instance, for thinking that there was nothing extraordinary underway in the world - 'nothing to see here'. Aside from a handful of niche examples of responsive art, there is a whole lot of silence going on.

And the impact of this silence, I think, is profound. We are surrounded by a cultural fog; a soft, warm miasma that is at once symptomatic of the challenges we are living through while also reinforcing them.

I intend to explicitly explore this topic more on this blog over time. At very least, it will be a useful way for me to process some of the important thoughts and feelings that inform my work.

In the 1960's, a Silent Spring was what people feared. Today, I'm troubled by the idea of a Silent Fall - and I intend to chart a different path.

Note: I am interested to hear from other artists - particularly musicians - who are exploring this terrain, or from anyone who can point to good creative examples. I know of some (here, for instance), and will write more about them in future, but would love to connect with more.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Spotting, watching

I do not know the names for clouds. But I know what I saw.

Today a pod of drooping white whales hung low in the sky. Some silent, some sighing. A mobile mass, heading off showers of krill, following the course of the wind.

I watched as their presence turned tall towers of convective air, bundles covered with blankets, into submarine coral mounds – shadowed, mysterious. Watched as it turned bird flocks into flying-fish schools; surfing the high air, skimming the low slung cetaceans’ upturned tails.

I watched this underwater, overland show play itself out on a layered stage with a bright, back-lit glow. Someone spying from the hills behind would have seen me sitting patiently underwater - a stone sunk heavy and calm, settled driftwood in a valley on the ocean’s floor. They would  have observed the cool current gently ruffling my hair, seen my light shirt buoyed by the salty surrounds.

And they would have seen me linger as the scene eased itself apart; almost-real whale flesh returning to formless vapour, water to air. 

But they certainly could not have detected the small twinge in my chest. Nor watched my eyes close softly over. Nor seen me sense that if I sat there long enough, the very same end would be mine; almost-real human flesh turned sand or soil, blown on wind, washed in waves.