Wednesday, August 28, 2013

be my ocean

Uprooting again.

This time there is comfort in the move, and I think it's because I'm not entering a completely foreign territory that I'll have to re-learn to navigate. There will be Douglas Fir, Cedar, Ferns, Ravens and Deer. I take comfort in knowing that the relationships I am developing with my current surroundings will not lay dormant, and that I can transfer that learning to a similar place. Maybe it's like learning the same language, but a different dialect:

I will no longer have the rocky coastline nearby, or River Otters, Herons and other waterfowl. I will be slightly inland, and on the mainland, with a new vocabulary of Coyotes, Bear, Skunks, Porcupines and Raccoons. I've been missing these larger omnivorous mammals in my last five or six years of living on islands and in the city, and I'm looking forward to seeing their signs again. A lot of the Gulf Islands are ecologically unbalanced - deer are allowed to propagate freely alongside humans, cats and dogs, because the coyotes have been culled to protect house pets, and to prevent competition for human-farmed meat.

It's undeniable that the majority of the world is already one big human-farm in one way or another, but I still enjoy feeling the power of the things that surround me - not just in terms of grand scenery and beauty, but in terms of a wariness and respect that other powerful entities are out there that can do drastic things outside of my control.

I suppose this is why I've gravitated to the ocean when I've lived on the Gulf Islands. There is a definite sense of humility in bobbing along the boundary between water and air - being completely incapable of even perceiving what is happening in the water that surrounds me.

May the bears and the storms be my ocean, in this next place-of-living.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


One month ago, I entered the second July Intensive, which is the halfway point for my Masters of Applied Arts at Emily Carr. On my first day in the studio, I transcribed the following on a big sheet of paper and posted it on my little piece of wall:

The story never stops beginning or ending. 

It appears headless and bottomless, for it is built on differences. 
The story circulates like a gift; an empty gift which anybody can lay claim to by filling it it to taste, yet can never truly possess. 
A gift that stays inexhaustible within its own limits.

-Trinh T. Minh-Ha, from Woman, Native, Other

This became a theme for the work I undertook in July, but I think it also describes my relationship with my cohort of fellow low-residency students.

This particular Masters is a low-residency program. I spend eleven months of the year talking to my instructors and fellow students online, and one month together in person. It's a fascinating and dynamic pedagogical project, but it also feels like a social experiment. We are subjected to the extremes of communication methods. For the majority of the time, we are writing quasi-academic forum posts that might never be read by each other. Then, for one month, we are lounging in a hottub together, sweating together through long days and nights as we install our interim exhibition, swimming in our underwear under the moon at Kits Beach, or dancing until the sun rises at an all-night party in Stanley Park.

Near the last day of the intensive, I removed Minh-Ha's quote, and posted another transcription:

I'll leave the stones here
But I'm taking the dream with me
Into the unknown.

Fischli and Weiss, from The Right Way

See you next year, co-heart.