Working through the work part 1

In the first few days, when I was thinking about how to make a peice that had no impact on the environment, I wrote a handful of poems called 'Possible Performances'. I used some card from the recycling bin which happened to be programs for a previous performance event at I-Park.

This is the one that brought me out of the idealist position of not touching the landscape and into the beginning of the work that I'm making now.

I started cutting the word 'leaves' into the leaves.

But how to cut a tree without hurting it?
Mason, the grounds keeper and I have had a few conversations about the ways I could cut into leaves and bark and without killing the leaves branches or trees. Caterpillars were also very instructive in thinking about this - they never eat an entire leaf, they take a small amount from many leaves. So I reduced the scale of my text to the same dimensions of the holes left my caterpillars and would only cut 1 leaf out of each sprig of 5.

Interestingly, the caterpillars started collaborating on the work by nibbling away at my texts - its a delightful surprise.

At this stage of the development, the main problem was that I didn't want this to just be a concrete poem - the word 'leaves' on actual leaves. I wanted the word leaves not just to be a plural noun but also the verb - to leave. And I wanted 'absence' to be used as a material and as a conceptual investigation.

It needed more layers, more components. This isn't the right text, but it was a process of teaching myself how to cut into the bark and a way of maybe introducing more text that could draw out other meanings of 'leaves'.

The work is very subtle and requires the viewer to spend time discovering the piece in the tree. So I have created 6 viewing spots inside the canopy of the tree, so the viewer can have an individual experience of locating and being with the work and the tree. Funnily enough when I began the work I kept loosing it. I'd go off to lunch, come back, and I couldnt find it. Clearly it was too subtle. Now I'm thinking about a marker in the ground that quietly shows the viewer where to stand so at least they are given a chance of locating the text on leaves and branches. This was my practice marker.

After these small components came together I asked another artists to come and look at the work. This turned out to be invaluable not just for the critical exchange but also because she was able to point out that the ground which my tree canopy covered was carpeted with poison ivy.

So there are many issues to resolve, but its invigorating to be thinking through and around new work.