iLand: Impressions from Jennifer Monson


Some notes after Friday, September 22nd Discussion with iLAB participants. We sat at the park by the East River in LIC on the grass and on a stonewall. Bright sun and clear skies and a breeze. Loud sounds of the building being constructed next to us that quieted at noon for the lunch break, mocking bird pair and a sea gull eating a chicken bone. Strong police presence on and off the river for the UN Meeting. Rebecca mentioned how much she appreciated the laboratory set up. The practice of moving from the familiar to the unfamiliar and from working indoors to outdoors. Biba talked about how much she really appreciated honing in on sound, the depth of the exploration and the integration of sound and movement. She was finding that this awareness of from the laboratory transitioned into her regular life and other artistic work. She spoke about learning to deal with the overwhelming sound environments and that the work had helped her to cope by not tuning out. She found that spending so much time on deep sensory input was exhausting. Lise and Rebecca responded to a question about how this work is ecological. Several people had mentioned that they had made that connection and there was an attempt to make it more specific. Rebecca said she understood the issues of noise pollution more deeply. Had learned to be much more respectful of listening and tuning into the unexpected or unnoticed sounds of an environment- things that are not given attention. There was some discussion of the different experience of different urban environments. For example the more natural areas of the park vs. the more industrial areas around the tunnel entrance. Some people felt freer to move in areas with more “natural” elements. Yves talked about the energy of being in more industrial or road like conditions. He enjoyed the energy of being close to cars, or the LI tunnel. Biba returned to the idea of sustainability and said that she has become more aware of her thresholds of listening and how they change as a result of where she is. This awareness allows her to feel more like a participant – in dialogue with the environment instead of a passive receiver or consumer of sound. There was a reminder of Pauline’s comment about humming back to a loud sound or dancing back to a sound. That action or reaction balances out the ecology of the moment. Activates the subject as a part of the ecological sound system. Creates a sense of balance, changes a power dynamic, empowers? An example was given from the day before when the group had danced past a garage full of men who were calling out to the dancers. Alejandra mentioned that she felt so present, so grounded and in her context that she wasn’t pulled out of herself into a self conscious or reactive mode but could keep in her animal sense of security and sharp awareness of her surroundings habitat. Like an animal - quiet, grounded. The discussion ended with a reference to urbanscape and thriving ecologies as holding a density of diversity and a conglomeration of different spaces that the group had strongly sensed and perceived in the last several days of dancing outside. I had so many questions about how all the sensory and perceptual work influences the imagination and the art making. How does creativity work into ecologies? Does it disorient and make room for dynamic shifts so as not to not get stuck or stagnate and in that way be sustainable? Is a sustainable system constantly changing and adapting? I felt the importance of experiencing process so strongly articulated by the group. Something about the density of consumer culture in this particular time seems to need the counter balance of process that is not commodified. It is interesting to me that so many emerging fields are generating software programs and processes that lead the audience or participant into an experience or an action but doesn’t necessarily make an object or material subject.

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iLAND, Jennifer Monson

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