We are at a unique point in time in the industrialised world. We are the breaking wave of a flawed utopian vision, now sinking into the understanding; that our relationship to nature and our consumerist approach to existence, will ultimately lead us into oblivion.
As we slowly (imperceptibly slowly) realign our relationships to industry and commerce in the hope of obtaining a sustainable future, should we not also begin to realign our approach to relation itself?
Can the objective and materialistic gaze of understanding that has facilitated our ‘domination’ and destruction of nature’s systems be trusted to relate us to our sustainable future?
Or is our crisis, a crisis of connection? An absence of culture that binds us intimately to the source of our lives? an absence of vocabulary that allows us to form meaningful relationships with our natural neighbours?
How do we embark on this journey of reestablishing meaningful connections in our lives?
How can we rekindle a culture that will inherently bloom positive interactions with nature?
What can we learn from the cultures of native and indigenous communities that have lived and are living in reciprocity with nature. Can we value the importance of their metaphoric, symbolic and intimately entwined understandings of nature, whilst creating a culture that is our own?
In our vision of tomorrow, what do we want it to mean, to be a tree?
what do we want it to mean, to be an elk?
what do we want it to mean, to be a rock?
what do we want it to mean, to be the wind?
‘What does it mean to be?’ is a collection of four video pieces
What Does It Mean To Be A Rock?
What Does It Mean To Be A Tree?
What Does It Mean To Be The Wind?
What Does It Mean To Be An Elk?
Each of the videos are an opportunity to ask that question: What Does It Mean To Be?
Alongside footage of that entity (rock,elk,wind,tree) the videos present two modern western definitions alongside two understandings from native American cultures. This is not intended to present one perspective as ‘more right’ than another, but to encourage the idea that there are multiple ways of understanding our world, and to highlight the varying degrees of intimacy that are brought about by different perspectives.
To create the second part of each film, I spent from dawn until dusk ‘being’ that entity, wearing a go pro head cam to capture my point of view.
This point of view footage (like the definitions) is not an answer to the question ‘What Does It Mean To Be?’, but a playful and imaginative window through which to ask that question.
Allow your imagination to put you ‘in the shoes’ of the rock, the wind, the tree and the elk, and see what you might learn from a day in their life.
These films are not intended to be viewed in a passive manner in which the films message is received. They are active invitations to consider your own personal understanding of rocks, trees, elk and the wind, without the confines of our current societal definitions. They are invitations to begin the process of imagining a new way of relating to the furry, bark covered, lichen covered and breezy people in our lives.
The ways in which we define and give meaning to our habitats and the lives that live there, will ultimately decide what it means for us to be human