Thru hole I blind/O/Thru hole oui see (2020)
Single screen video with sound
A series of objects for the viewer to assemble in order to watch the video.
When you view this work, please bring the following objects with you.
(If you can’t locate the ideal objects, we’ve also listed a domestic equivalent.)
• Stone or pebble. Ideally a flint. (If not, a metal dessert spoon)
• A fir cone. (If not, an onion or potato)
• Some damp moss. ( If not, a slightly dampened piece of bread)
• Three leaves from 3 different trees. (If not, three socks from three separate pairs)
• An acorn. (If not, a £1 coin)
• A hawthorn twig or similar, but ideally including a thorn. (If not, a pencil)
• A piece of bark. (If not, a CD, DVD or pack of Post-It Notes)
Thru hole I blind/O/Thru hole oui see: low res, on Vimeo.
The forest is organised and mapped in order to identify zones corresponding to particular emotional and psychological states. In order to heal, humans spending time in these sites, either remotely or IRL, are able to experience and explore these heightened feelings directly networked into the more-than-human natural environment. To prepare us for this radical change of use Thru hole I blind/O/Thru hole oui see applies various techniques for guiding perceptions of a forest landscape. Systems of vision are channelled from local folklore, magick and rules of the picturesque to the latest Lidar technology, from empathic and embodied attention to Tranquility Mapping, the averting of a witches’ gaze, the visual noise of acid-green rainwear and the power of shame and personal memory, all in order to network and disperse the observer’s body and mind across every part of the forest. Thru hole I blind/O/Thru hole oui see is a visual exercise for perceiving both the wood for the trees and the trees for the wood. What beauty!
Made during the covid-19 pandemic and the resulting growth in remote audiences viewing online content, and each other, via zoom, Thru hole I blind/O/Thru hole oui see explores ways in which the screen can be both immersive and yet also expanded spatially and materially, and even transcended. An attention that is woven, or rooted into the time and space beyond the duration and frame of the video, is also developed through the encouragement to viewers to bring certain objects; a ritualistic preparation of the body and the mind (cf: M-path (2006) before being ready to see, and the expansion of consciousness throughout the body, rather than just the eyes and brain. Items have to be gathered before the video begins and then used while watching, information needs to be ‘looked up afterwards’. The experience of seeing and a felt connection to image and sound, perhaps no longer needs to be encumbered with a barrage of information which is readily accessible to an audience through an online search later. There’s a number of references to avert the gaze or the avoidance of being perceived including the positioning of a fig leaf over a webcam.
In Thru hole I blind/O/Thru hole oui see there is the suggestion that the artwork itself, (through the processes that are seen to operate within it and a form of hypnosis activated by the combinations of imagery and sound), has the potential to channel something exceptional, magickal; a shifting of perception. (eg: Plan for a Spell (2001), M-path (2006), Echo (2009), or Deep Above (2016), and O, you happy roots, branch and mediatrix [live] (2020)). But there’s also the simultaneous retention of doubt that that expanded consciousness might never be possible and exists only as desire. The art object having a direct role in guiding perceptions of place (often with reference to the frame) occurs also in works such as A Place for ‘The End’ (1999) Better Scenery (2000 – ), Mask Filter (2004-), Nightshift (2004), Settlement (2004) Ghost (2010)). Thru hole… also functions as a deviant folk counter-balance to the perverse institutional perceptions of British place and identity as demonstrated in ‘guide’ works such as A Hostile Environment (2019).
Thru hole I blind/O/Thru hole oui see explores the ways that forests are mapped, understood and perceived. The work draws on rich and diverse knowledge of the New Forest generously made available by a wide array of local specialists and organisations including Forestry England, National Parks Authority and The Verderers of the New Forest. The video is structured like a dream traversing this forest of information.
Voice: Gretchen Egolf
Thanks to: Lawrence Shaw, Sarah Kelly, and Hilde van der Heul at the New Forest National Park Authority.
Music: Mutsumi – Look Down at Your Feet Below, and Afro Finger. Terre Thaemlitz remix of The Golden Palominos – Gun / Little Suicides
Commissioned: for Tele Vistas by More Than Ponies with support from Arts Council England.
Essay, by writer Ellen Mara De Wachter responding to the above work: ‘A Wild Seen’
Installation images are from the exhibition Ultramagnetic, at Well Projects, 2021/2022, curated by Benedict Drew