observation

Old Brooke Rd. Old Field: An Incomplete Field Guide and Self-Guided Tour. Thoughts from artist Sylvia Pendl

fieldwork, sylvia pendl, spring 2012
fieldwork, sylvia pendl, spring 2012

Images above: S. Pendl.  Studies for Old Brooke Rd. Old Field: The Incomplete Field Guide and Self-Guided Tour. (2012)

The ways in which undefined wild places and landscapes are perceived, and named, informs how they are valued. Landscapes that appear to be undifferentiated: an old agricultural field, a woodland, a lakeside, a pond, are now romantically valued. Sometimes people gaze at them as they pass by on their way elsewhere, to a place where there is something to do, something going on. Yet all of these fields, forests and water bodies are precise arrangements of plants, animals and relationships, teeming with activity, albeit in a quiet way.
However, these natural phenomena are not discreet, fragmented items. These seemingly individual wonders: a shrike employing a hawthorn’s thorn to impale its prey, as an example, are inter-related and have connections that reach far beyond the place they may be found in, while at the same time they are also very much of their location.
I fear that literacy in the natural world is disappearing. Although western science has allowed for fragmented insights into the physiological aspects of the natural world, this perception of “objective” seeing and investigation has neglected other ways of seeing. This method of deconstruction and categorization does not acknowledge that all the individual entities are part of a larger schema. The inter-relationships and connections remain invisible.
Knowledge disappears quickly. I am already forgetting some of the things my father told me about the forest when I was young. The knowing of these things needs to be practiced regularly so that I don’t forget. What will future generations know about the world outside if they no longer have any context or thread to learn from?

- Sylvia Pendl

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