So in order to ‘stay safe’ we need to protect ourselves from
- the air we breathe through nose and mouth,
- the air that we move through that might have Covid 19 moving through it too, looking for wet mucous perhaps in our eyes
- the surfaces we touch on which Covid 19 may have landed and which we may inadvertently transfer to our eyes,nose or mouth
In short sensory organs that impact on communication
Only hearing is left and we need to listen carefully, having possibly lost information from those other senses as we put on masks, face shields and gloves. How hard it must be to help the sick and dying, the isolated and lonely, the confused and frightened. But the sense of hearing can be honed. As I listen now to the sounds around me, it changes my breathing and stills my busy mind.
A small space opens up for, using Dylan Thomas’s words, to maybe let another thought to ‘creep or flash or thunder in’
- Forms of life get very small, I am unsure but I think that viruses are the smallest. Strands of ribonuclei acid , RNA,wrapped up in a coat to protect themselves when not happily reproducing in some other living organism. So here is a highly magnified image I found on the internet
What do I know about this Covid 19?
- As viruses go it is quite large and heavy reducing the distance it can easily travel through air
- It invades lung cells of humans where it happily reorganises things so it can reproduce itself. I think it kills the cells it invades, taking over the reproductive mechanisms of the cell to make more of itself.
- It has swept across the world getting into human bodies via their mucous membranes in noses, mouths and eyes .
- It gets there in a droplet of moisture coughed or sneezed by an infected person, landing on a surface where another host human transfers it to their mouth or nose or eyes where it can move in our mucous off into lung tissue
- Lots of people get infected and survive after an unpleasant time of fever and coughing
- Some people die
- The mathematical models indicate that the rate of spread is fast because every one person can infect three others, those three then infect another three each and so on
- Reducing physical contact slows the rate of infection, the virus has nowhere to go
- ‘Lockdown’ has been effective in slowing infections
- But ‘Lockdown’ is creating more problems both now and almost certainly for the future
Things that are changed
Our behaviour towards one another, can we care, can we still find ways to communicate, touch and soothe?
Or are we gradually seeing the fault lines opening both at an individual and social level?
Our attitude to some of the lowest paid workers in our societies, people who keep us clean, help us when we are ill, care for us in old age and often when we are very young, move us around on public transport, grow and deliver our food, keep the lights on and water running, bins emptied and sewers unblocked, bury the dead and deliver the newborn, the list is long, people on it invisible, until they are not.
Like that tiny virus
So how am I going to live with the fear of dying? As I write that I think it sounds like an oxymoron. I know that being alive means that I have to die.
and the economy
This seems even harder to unpick. If those with wealth have 42% of it from private pensions where did that money originate?
Somehow the conversations around fairness and furloughing, value and money, money and wealth, education, inheritance and upbringing merge into a tangled web.
A little like tracing the spread of that tiny virus.
What steps do I need to take to untangle the knots?
Each one of us may have a different answer
Right now we are denied the chance to physically sing, dance and feast together
Right now some people are working in difficult conditions, with lack of sleep and lack of solace
Right now new connections are being made
Just like that tiny virus
A potentially less costly system than our current benefits schemes.
The corona virus, Covid 19, was looking for connections is this one?
During the Covid-19 lockdown, we 3 Larks & Ravens have created space 2 days a week to work together/apart in exploring and responding to Covid-19 life in all its pain, weirdness and disruptive possibilities.
We are staying focussed on our core interests of value, money and how to upend and rework capitalism away from economic growth fuelled by material consumption and towards better redistribution of wealth to support the common good.
We are trusting in art as “resistance to the logic of making sense” and in drawing and making as a way to gain insight.
We hope our work may trigger different thinking and conversations across a wider audience.
We started by exploring ways to make connection with the outside world from our individual locked down isolated states – high chairs, prancing lambs, sunflower seeds, high rise flats and floating messages on a canal.
Then, rather than concentrating on what we were cut off from, our interest shifted to how we could use this beached and cut-off state to explore the opportunities for change – in valuing, money and capitalist policies – which Covid-19 might enable….
How could we ask people what they would like to see change post Covid-19?
What would their language tell us?
What sacred cows are getting burned?
What might the new forms of value exchange happening between neighbours and friends point to?
How would the recognition of who our key workers actually are change how society pays them?
How might Priti Patel’s point based immigration system change?
Might Universal Basic Income actually happen? What would it change?
What can we, as artists, do to help trigger wider conversations?
For a while, as a cognitive psychologist, I’ve been working with my 2 artist colleagues to explore questions and trigger new thinking and conversations. They have introduced me to a different, arguably more visceral, language of drawing and making as a way of exploring and understanding the world. Outside the safety net of words, it often feels alien for me, uncomfortable and even crazy but insights emerge which I know I wouldn’t have encountered through my normal, more analytical, roots.
In the Autumn we had the privilege of meeting two South Koreans from the Science Walden Insititute at the Hothouse residency at Dartington Hall. We were fascinated by their Faecal Standard Money project capturing people’s faeces in their specially designed toilet and converting it into biofuel which is worth money and the people can be paid in kind for their natural excreted “waste”. What a wonderful challenge to our capitalistic models of value.
We, the Larks & Ravens would like to continue those conversations. Today, I tried to express that by asking Google to translate our wish into South Korean. I then attempted to draw by hand the (to me) alien script character by character. It was hard. It required intense concentration. Was I copying the shapes, the length of each line, the spacing accurately enough? Was I conveying the right meaning or had I just changed it inadvertently? Was I missing some subtlety of expression? Had I said something offensive or wrong or just difficult to understand? How distorted would my message be when it reached a native speaker? I don’t know.
And then I puzzled why we think we understand each other when we listen or read each other in English. We say it’s our shared or “native” language but to what extent is the meaning intended really shared? I certainly never attend as carefully and anxiously as I did with these unfamiliar characters? I usually think “that’s OK, I caught ‘the drift’ … but did I?
What can we, the Larks and Ravens, learn from sharing questions about value, money and Capitalism with those who speak to us in other tongues? What does it teach us about drawing as a language to be shared and understood by others?
(Original Translation: A desire to work with others who share similar questions but explore in different languages – drawing, words, music, making, doing..)
The Larks & ravens are exploring (remotely) ways to connect with the outside world from our different isolated locations.
I walked along the canal path that runs through my village and left a floating message of hope and sunshine for any other passer-by.
How do you unthink/rethink cultural structures which shape what we do and who has the power?
The day started with 3 artists, a large floor and a very large sheet of black card.
So when down at Dartington Hall spending time ‘Hothousing’ what non-capitalism might look like, I was interested in working on the Tiltyard, a pristine area of grass visible from most of the surrounding paths.
A place of exposure, any activity would be seen
A place where leaves would easily be caught by the wind and blown around
A place where I might make a leaf drawing to an enlarged scale of the Lane Room conference table
I asked the gardeners’ permission and began to gather leaves where I first entered the space at one edge, slightly stealthily because I felt self conscious. Then as I continued to gather the leaves they became the focus of my attention. Why did I chose one rather than another? Why did I not pick up the dowdy leaves buried more deeply in the grass? Was it size, or colour or ease for me? If I was making a conference table surely the democratic thing was to include all the leaves? Then I was asked by child what was I doing, my reply was that I was using the leaves to make a drawing to try to understand the muddled thoughts in my head. The muddle came from a day of subverting the formality of the Lane Room in an attempt to make a piece of work in the space I found myself in which represented non-capitalism.
Today I have been gathering leaves to compose them in my own garden and I suddenly became aware of the different e way I viewed and handled the leaves. Today’s leaves are actual capital, for me, saved energy that will, in time, turn into rich compost to feed the plants in my garden, some of which will, in turn will feed me. Yet I gathered today’s leaves greedily, in armfuls with the excited thought of compost to come not considering what else they might offer. It was a different way of relating to the time I was on the Tiltyard. Then the leaves directed and informed my thinking, guiding new work.
The value of dead leaves.
Spring and Fall
to a young child