Just returned from Jerusalem Drove, Wardy Hill, Coveny, nr. Ely. Went to explore open fen. On the East/Ely side of the Wash. Thought about walking along one of the banks of the Wash also. Alternative contender is National Trust site Wicken Fen. Bit of a dilemma about where exactly to go. Don’t have the luxury of listening walk led wanderings of the ‘Metis’ project because of the scale and time available. Although, if I warm to Wicken Fen that will afford (there’s that word again), more of a wander-explore-discover (unearth) kind of approach. Part of me loves the idea of mile-upon-mile of identical looking manmade ‘artificial’ drains, difficult tracks, inhospitable climate, etc. probably ‘difficult’ source material for this kind of thing. I like the challenge, the fact the it forces the work to be about the place and my relation to it, finding out what that is, and not pretty sounds.

Had an interesting and useful trip. Time was limited, after ‘preping’ most the day (batteries, SD cards, archiving files, cleaning lenses, tightening screws, etc.) and with the clocks going back, ended up with only an hour and half. Head off to a nearby area that is basically typical out-of-the-way agricultural fen. There are limited public footpaths as the fens are only 2-3 hundred years old and don’t benefit from that many ‘rights of way’ and most simply follow drainage ditches.

The route I picked was also one for farm vehicles and as a result was impassible, a foot or two of soft mud either side of water filled tracks (knew I should have taken my tractor). Reminded me of the delightfully human scale of Corfu (the last Metis project I did), the fen is anything but. Ended trespassing up the side of field along a parallel track. Soon connected with the feeling and memory of place that the fens evoke for me (actually the yearning started just driving out of Ely – note: must spend time reflecting on these qualities). Tried to rejoin the other track but the dyke between it and I was too wide and deep.

The idea is for a kind of multiperspectival approach to the experience of being here. Realise that I will have to engage in new ways. The urban work I’ve done in that past is full of sound generating and sound modulating presences. Less so these rural spaces. Sure there’s the varying ambiences and subtle ‘lofi’ fluctuations but for this project I’m necessarily drawn to a more interactive way of working. It is the ‘making art with the environment’ imperative that’s leading this. Not a usual position for me. But one I now want/need to explore. It is about relationship, and for me finding and working with a kind of intersubjective space existing between myself and my larger/containing environment (Winnicott’s transitional space? consciousness and its larger context?).

After mostly walking (although I did take a call from my wife, read an email, and use my GPS to work out exactly where was) I made an audio recording whilst manipulating a few of the field’s stubble of wheat stalks (walking on, stroking with my hand and with other stalks, and crushing them together), and brought a couple of handfuls of them with me. It reminded me of Dallas Simpson’s take of spirituality and field recording, where by releasing an object’s sound you somehow materialise its silent essence, and of Lucier’s ‘Opera with Objects‘ where you gently tap around the circumference of various objects. 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