Foot First - A "Pied a terre" approach to fieldwork
A curiosity about fieldwork is a developing area of interest , what it means to me and what it means to geographers. To begin with the geography department itself was the place in which I conducted fieldwork, watching and listening to the natives, following their pathways asking about what they did, where they were going and then the curious question......"how do you feel here?"
Cue wry grin.....some shuffling of mind and body and then a distinct moving off.....
It is a delightful question....how do you feel your way about the department. Are you aware of your feet beneath you as you tread your pathways with your geographical thoughts.....are your feet and your thoughts connected.....do you dwell in the sensory realm of your physical being.....are you in the field of your own being right now...?
Fellow dance artist Kate Willis who came to explore found she wanted to put her feet on the places where students study, write, take notes and listen. She wanted to tread where knowledge is written down and recorded, to feel the place from the ground up........from down to up, sole/soul perhaps?!
As my residency has developed I have been able to accompany the "physical " geographers on a field trip to Blencathra, Cumbria
There will be a "properly edited" film as a result of being there but my curiosity was captured by the language of measuring and recording out in the field. More than anything the wonderful possibility for telling and absorbing stories. Listening to students and staff imagine " What has happened here? What are the energetic consequences of movement in this place of passing over ,through and settling, stilling?"
They are a pragmatic lot these physical geographers but to me they speak of poetry and connection , sensation and imagination. The language and the imagination coming together in exactly the same way as I might ask someone to somatically sense and feel the energetic effects of their breath or their fluid systems moving through their body/landscape.
The wonders of coring.... samples sucked bubbling upwards from the deep dark depths. Young men giggling and making toilet references, somatic connections to their guts....feeling it in their guts, sense memory at work.
A collective gasp, a moment of unfettered wonder as these techno savvy students are struck silent by the delicate blue of clay drawn up from the distant depths to the light. A physical sense of history...of deep time.....of all that is seen and unseen.
The richness of possibility quietly dwelling here, watching, listening as my bare feet pass over, sense , perceive the depth and layers beneath me then sky tread across the wide skies.
Someone comments " everything filters down and settles".
So let consciousness settle ....in the human, in the physical....together....