Andscapes: Field Notes on Field_Notes
posted by Liz McTernan on 5 April 2024

Field_Notes is an art and science field laboratory organized biannually by the Bioart Society at the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station of the University of Helsinki in the Sápmi region in Northern Finland since 2011. During Field_Notes – The North Escaping, three groups of five worked in the subarctic for two weeks developing, testing and evaluating specific interdisciplinary approaches under the theme of The North Escaping. Andscapes group critically engaged with questions of scale and the tools used to understand our surroundings. In this blog post, the group shares their journey and process during the two-week-long field laboratory. Andscapes was funded via the Restorative Practices Creative Europe project.

Frames: Tools, Scale, Attunement

This field laboratory was designed to be purely process- and experiment- driven, with explicit de-emphasis on producing art objects or concrete ‘results’ – pushing against the expectations typically brought to artist residencies and scientific fieldwork alike. To me, this project is largely about how knowledge creation, exchange, and structures emerge from between strangers plopped in a place for two weeks alongside other strangers from vastly different disciplines. As a host, the theme I chose for my group was ‘Andscapes’. For the Andscapes group, three main themes arose organically from our two weeks of collective fieldwork: tools, attunement, and scale.

All year round, scientists in the Kilpisjärvi area take measurements of the landscape – temperature, proportions of particles in the atmosphere, carbon counts, etc. How might artists approach those methods differently? Or ask very different kinds of questions than scientists? This is not a project about turning artists into pseudo-scientists: it is about bringing artistic practice side-by-side with scientific practice, and seeing what discourses emerge and what new knowledge structures could develop.

It takes a long time to get to Kilpisjärvi Biological Station: a night train from Helsinki up to Rovaniemi on the Arctic Circle, where Santa Claus has a mailing address, and then another six hours north to where the borders of Finland, Sweden, and Norway all meet. During Field_Notes, we spent most of our days outdoors, from morning to dinnertime, if not later. Most locations were only accessible on foot, so our encounters with the landscape were as much through movement as through spending time in a given area. We also did a multi-day trek farther afield. One artist in my group, Aleksi Jaakkola from Iceland, created this map connecting all the locations where the Andscapes group traveled. 

Photo credit: Aleksi Jaakkola

Early on in the field laboratory, we were introduced to some of the scientific methods being used to make measurements out in the field. Hannu Autto, the coordinator of the biological station, showed us around a very cool project underway, called ‘Project Lifeplan: A Planetary Inventory of Life’. Led by the University of Helsinki, this is one of 127 global sampling stations that are monitoring biodiversity using various instruments. Hannu showed us some of the equipment that is set up in the field year-round: a pole with a microphone that records continuously, and below that a motion-sensitive camera, both positioned above the expected snow level and where wildlife is most likely to trigger it. 


Photo credits: Elizabeth McTernan

Nearby is an anemometer instrument, measuring wind speed, direction, and air pressure. It also collects air samples so researchers can find out the concentration of certain particles in the atmosphere, building a picture of how this environment is changing due to climate breakdown. This is just one example of the various scientific tools and spaces we were introduced to at the station.


Photo credits: Elizabeth McTernan

Also essential to understanding the Lapland landscape are the narratives that carry through it. Of all the tools we were introduced to in Kilpisjärvi, narrative struck me as the most powerful one, and was often the difference between seeing and not seeing defining features of the Kilpisjärvi wilderness.


Photo credit: Aleksi Jaakkola

For example, Saana is the most prominent fell in this Finnish region, rising above the biological station. Relatively recently, in celebration of Finland’s 100 years of independence, it was deployed as a national symbol of Finnish-ness in Lapland; Finns from the south also invented a Sami-esque folktale about the fell, which in turn has been falsely labeled as sacred to indigenous Sami culture. In fact, the Sami do not consider Saana sacred – perhaps because its verticality is not reindeer-friendly, and they are reindeer people. But Saana's new symbolism has been politically instrumentalized by different groups, both on the left and the right. I would not have known that if Leena Valkeapää had not told our group during one of our memorable hikes together.

Leena Valkeapää is a local artist and Bioart Society mentor. She is married to a local reindeer herder, Oula Valkeapää, who is also beloved by the Bioart Society artists who make it up to the station. Leena has described herself as having one foot in each world – that of southern Finland, and that of the Sami in the north. Leena is a generous guide and took us on some hikes in the area. In the photo below, she is gesturing to the area behind her, asking us, ‘Can you see how intense this area of the landscape is?’ None of us could. To our untrained eyes, this was not a location we would have even paused at. Leena explained that this area had vegetation that was dramatically different from other areas, because it had once been a reindeer corral. She pointed out, ‘The thing about these areas, where so many nomadic people and their reindeer have come and gone over centuries without building any permanent structures, is that, if you want to forget, it’s very easy to forget. So if the culture or the government don’t want to see the history here, it’s easy not to see.’ With that statement I realized how powerful narrative is as a tool for understanding – or misunderstanding – the Lapland landscape.


Photo credit: Elizabeth McTernan

Borders, such as the reindeer fence in the photo below, crisscross the tundra and often feel contradictory in a region defined by the fluid movement, and needs, of reindeer herds.


Photo credit: Aleksi Jaakkola

On one of our longer treks, our Andscapes group passed by another Field_Notes group, at a post that marks the Swedish-Finnish border. This political marker felt absurd in the open tundra, like one world being flimsily mapped onto another.


Photo credit: Aleksi Jaakkola

Photo credit: Elizabeth McTernan

At one point on a hike, Leena pointed out a line on this tree that she said divides the so-called ‘natural’ from the ‘cultural’. The bark above her hand is covered with lichen, untouched by reindeer, and the bark below her hand is stripped of lichen by reindeer. She considers the reindeer, which have been domesticated over centuries, to be cultural actors that transform the landscape, and create the lower ‘cultural’ part of the tree.


Photo credit: John Grzinich

Tools that the Andscapes group deployed a lot were those that were centered in, or extended, the human senses. A lot of our experiments revolved around attunement – in the form of guided meditations, listening sessions, spending time with glacial moraine. It seemed that the word ‘attunement’ came up separately in each of the Field_Notes groups – an unexpected commonality. The desire for attunement suggests a desire for harmony, which in itself carries certain human projections of right or virtuous ways of being in the landscape. On one hand, all of us wanted to connect to Kilpisjärvi and to feel we were doing so rightly, virtuously. On the other hand, harmony, balance, attunement – they are themselves narratives, stories we tell ourselves in order to understand our place in the world, or at least to feel we can connect with the nonhuman without causing even more harm. Fellow Andscaper John Grzinich brought up this important point to me in one of the many conversations that would happen between happenings. It made me wonder, when we strive for attunement, who are we really doing it for? The nonhuman, or ourselves? This is not to dismiss attunement as a modality, but rather it is to place it at the same level as tools or methods – as another way to find our way inside the outside, and deserving of a critical lens.

I can’t talk about tools, attunement, or scale without sharing some of the weird and wonderful experiments the Andscapers undertook during Field_Notes:

Here is a rig for upgraded shoe-gazing, by the artist Jill Sorensen, from New Zealand.


Photo credit: Elizabeth McTernan

Photo credit: Jill Sorensen

Artist John Grzinich, an American artist based in Estonia, led us in a session of what he called “rooted listening”. In his research, he’s found that the interiors of trees affect different kinds of sounds depending on the season.


Photo credit: Elizabeth McTernan

He placed contact mics on the roots of a birch tree that was directly on the treeline, and he amplified the sound for a listening session.


Photo credits: Elizabeth McTernan

Laure Winants, a Belgian artist in the group, used a special refractive film to project colors that were isolated from the color spectrum onto stones in the landscape.


Photo credits: Elizabeth McTernan

In the second week, we spent a period of two days doing experiments in an area not far from the biological station, maybe 45 minutes walk. During that time I roped off several squares of landscape: 5 x 5 m, 2 x 2 m, 1 x 1 m, then 10 x 10 cm.


Photo credit: Elizabeth McTernan

I gave my group a prompt: “What is the scale of your attention?” I invited them to observe the quadrants using their own approaches. 


Photo credit: Elizabeth McTernan

John set up a contact mic in the tiniest area, the 10 x 10 cm, and we spent time listening. 


Photo credit: Elizabeth McTernan

Laure laid down in the biggest quadrant, the 5 x 5 m, and made note of how the presence of the square drawn around her shifted the way she imagined herself in the square and imagined the square in the map, from an aerial view.


Photo credit: Elizabeth McTernan

Leena Lehti, a Finnish artist, created much smaller frames, like 1 x 1 cm. Instead of using string she made paper cutouts.


Photo credit: Leena Lehti

She extracted content from the areas within her squares…


Photo credit: Leena Lehti

And returned to the wet lab to take microscopic photographs.


Photo credits: Leena Lehti

Below are more reflections, in the words of my beloved Andscapers: John Grzinich, Aleksi Jaakkola, Leena Lehti, Jill Sorensen, and Laure Winants.

Photo credit: John Grzinich


A Contextual Diary of Elements: Water, Earth, Air, Stone, Fire

Thinking through my experience of North Escaping, I ended up attributing each day to one or more elements that defined this exploration. This ‘thinking through elements’ helped signify the events, exchanges and moods of that day and the various meanings that came about. I will not make a complete run-down of the full two weeks but rather attempt to abstract the passage of that time through these elements and the numerous themes of Field_Notes and what they represent for me. My analysis here of elements relates primarily to the two weeks of the Andscapes guided, North Escaping, and is not meant to be tied to other elemental systems found in different spiritual traditions. One may read this more as a personal recollection with possible insights into some contextual symbolisms and meta-narratives that emerged from our time in Kilpisjärvi.

Water equated to movement, transitions and the fluidity of change. On a group level, we had numerous travel days, from our Kilpisjärvi arrival and departure to the extended day hike that brought us back from our remote overnight stay at Saarijärvi. There were other ‘water’ days where we navigated lakes, streams and shore of a fjord. On a few of those days I felt strong personal transitions, from one aspect of life to another or from one mode of working to another. In a few cases, water facilitated the need for conversation and brought about forms of collaboration among our Andscapes group. The need for me to address the elements also came on a water day. Whether brought about by our collective dreaming at the base of Saana or the culmination of many other things, it became clear for me at that point to start thinking through elements. So for the rest of that day I proceeded to spend time with water, studying its paths and listening to its many voices both literally and metaphorically.

maaheli · Rooted Listening - Willow Tree

Earth equated to grounding, regeneration and horizontality. Earth was also a prevalent theme throughout the two weeks, from our grounding actions, walks and discussions of soil kinship. Earth gives signals from below where it foments microscopic life forms and pluri-fungal communication. I spent a number of hours engaged in my current interest in ‘grounded listening’ and shared this with our group on one occasion. I continued to ask myself, what have I been hearing when I place my ‘sensing’ contact microphone as extended ‘ears’ at the roots of trees? I’m still learning but listening from below is a grounding experience in itself. While I have reservations about the term ‘attunement’ that found popular usage at Field_Notes, it might be appropriate in this case. As one can hear the resonances of leaves, branches, stems and roots of a tree through its grounded presence, it becomes possible to attune to its structural integrity and how trees sway and tension in the wind in an immobile dance of earthly rejoicing.

maaheli · Saana - Extreme Winds - Binaural

Air equated to forms of transmission, communication and signals from above. A good deal of attention was given to breathing and the cycles of our breath that, in turn, affect how we resonate between internal and external bodily states and conditions. One extension of the flow of air coming from our breath, is verbal communication. There was more than enough of that over the two week period… at breakfast, lunch and dinner… in the announcements, or meetings… in talks out on the trail… in the evening lectures, in interpersonal discussions, whether planned, chanced or circumstantial. To what intentions do we attribute all this articulation of thought and feeling? What becomes of all these transmissions of information? Much of this I am beginning to process. For me this implies that Field_Notes are not so much written, but experienced, processed and exchanged in the immaterial Air of the event. Air also facilitated much of our mediated documentation from the light inscribed in our solargraphic, analogue and digital cameras to the atmospheric sounds we recorded. Air eventually extended into the ether of the day and night, as we observed endless cloud formations, waited for the auroras and listened to the crackling of auroral earth radio from my humble coil antenna.


Photo credit: John Grzinich


Stone equated to deep time, permanence and verticality. The stone world of the sub-arctic permeated our everyday thoughts and movements from living at the base of a tectonic stone mountain to navigating the infinite terrain of post-glacial residue composed of erratic boulders, fields of rocks, and tangible collections of pebbles. Our dear Aleksi shared his inescapable passion for stones, often drawing our attention to particular stones of strength, energy and knowledge. We attempted to communicate, play and dream with stones. Saana, the central stone monument of Kilpisjärvi, challenged us to ascend above while facing wind and snow that signaled a transition of seasons. I still feel the stones in my muscles, bones and knees. I took portraits of stones that gave character to the landscape and of the valleys where whole populations of stones inhabit the sub-arctic tundra. I studied the colors, surfaces and textures of stones as forms of ancient inscriptions resulting from exchanges with water and air. In the end the stones demanded our attention, keeping us in touch with the geo-logic of planetary scale narratives.


Photo credit: John Grzinich


Fire equated to the intensity of exchange whether through convergence or conflict. During our hike to Saarijärvi, Leena pointed out the differences between conventional tourist fire pits and the various forms of fire making used by Sámis in their nomadic herding practices. Besides being a practical bit of knowledge I took this example to be a good metaphor for our own experience in the subarctic. While visiting an unfamiliar territory, I have to ask, in what ways are we mere tourists acting out of a mechanistic disconnect that defines so much of our habits? And, if we are able to realize that which we are disconnected from, how can we transverse those habits to find more meaningful forms of habitation? Fire rarely appeared in these two weeks, but when it did, I found it giving urgent signals, either to myself as an individual or to our group. Fire, in this sense, was not a ‘native’ element during this time but came through conditions to act as a guide or indicator, orienting us toward the other four elements.

What does any of this have to do with the Andscapes themes of scale, measurement, tools and attunement? I’m not entirely sure. Language and writing are also tools and through words I am able to scale my thoughts from the fiery and atmospheric into the grounded and earthly. And hopefully this carries with it some meaning shared among the various groupings that defined a rather unique whole. The framing of my experience in terms of elements possibly reveals, that in such a context, my desire was to reconcile the differences between the fragile yet vast more-than-human subarctic landscape with the transitory human camp that is Field_Notes. In doing so many of my conventional tools and scales fail me. Maybe witnessing the ways that scientists rely on ‘big data’ to answer questions, artists need something akin to ‘big sensing’ to explore other forms of knowledge. For myself, these sensory and extra-sensory forms of knowledge often come through the materials and elements I come in contact with.

Molding a (meta)Form with Field Works

We worked together in the fields for two weeks, adding our own individual inputs to create something truly unique. This creation has its own energy and a distinct wavelength, and it was recorded and witnessed by Sáná mountain.

On a rare occasion, I found myself surrounded by many like-minded individuals. We shared ideas, engaged in deep conversations, and got to know one another. Our time and actions were instrumental in shaping the experience. Each place we worked in became a part of that form, and within two weeks, the shape or sculpture was ready. Not only were we tapping into the local energies, but the places were also tapping into our experiences and knowledge.

The following are my expressions of tools and scales, attunement, and interpretation of interactivity with the landscape in the form of questions and answers. I am also sharing some entries from field notes and poetic verses.


Photo credit: Aleksi Jaakkola

Tools and scale

During Field_Notes – The North Escaping, various tools and methods were used. These included using one's sensory system, such as wandering and walking in the research area and paying attention to external and internal stimuli, such as body aches, ringing ears, and tingling. Additionally, signs in nature, such as birds flying in a particular direction, arrangements of rocks, wind, sound, and other weather phenomena, were also taken note of.

During field trips and hikes, a GPS device was used to mark points of interest. This data serves as a mapping of the space around those places and provides metadata on how the human body navigates through space, creating a visual representation and material for research on a larger scale. Without GPS, it would not have been possible to imagine how the mountain would have observed the activities performed in the landscape.

Scaling in and out and being in between, mountain's view to microscopic view

The human body has its limitations when it comes to perceiving information without any assistance. When the area being observed is very small, measured in centimetres or millimetres, it can be challenging to comprehend the essence of the area being researched. To demonstrate this, I conducted research on four marked test areas defined by Liz McTernan: 5 x 5 meters, 2 x 2 meters, 1 x 1 meter, and 10 x 10 cm. I could acquire some idea and sense for all test areas, except for the smallest one, which was 10 cm by 10 cm. To make sense of it, I would need additional tools, such as magnifying devices or other observational methods. In conclusion, additional tools are necessary at both ends of the scale when it comes to perceiving information.


The topography of the terrain, with its ups and downs, rushing to arrive somewhere on time, or standing still – all while being receptive to the environment. Repetitive actions, awareness, and the flow of information.

The teams at Field_Notes have identified attunement as a common theme. Attunement refers to being in sync with the subject matter. Finding a receptive perception involves wandering around until an attractive place or other subject matter is found. Becoming attuned takes time but can be facilitated through practices such as meditation and breathwork. Together, these practices are essential for achieving a state of connectivity. The attunement process is a way to gain insights and perceive more comprehensive concepts of causalities.

 As time passes, the scales expand and shrink in a back-and-forth, up-and-down motion.

The experiences and thoughts that arise while performing in a landscape are later processed through written accounts, visual documentation, and additional information from other sources. As this distillation process occurs, the artist-researcher fades from the narration, leaving behind valuable insights that provide a deeper understanding of the experience.

Two-directional questions

During Field_Notes, I felt that something had been observing my doings. It was like the mountain would have eyes and ears; sometimes, I could hear subtle whispers. These small gestures led me from place to place; I wondered why. Hence, two questions emerged: What does the landscape want from me, and what do I want from the landscape?

I found answers when the Andscapers went to Nállovuohppi at Lyngenfjord Strand in Skibotn, Norway, where Jill Sorensen led a ceremonial conversation pit.

Jill opened the pit with the following words (from the audio recording):

 Jill: “Asking for permission of the place. Stories of land, bedrock, the sea, and the air acknowledge the images of North - where the winter comes and escapes, South where the heat is rising, East - where the sun rises, West - where the sun sets, images of the sky and space beyond the stars and planets, Energies of the Earth, beneath of our feet hot molten core to the other side to the Pacific where the sea is rising. Acknowledge all the images that we have gathered during these two weeks.”

I gained insights during our conversation, which is to view oneself as an integral part of the larger landscape. After all, we are all made up of silica and minerals; therefore, there are no boundaries for information exchange.

The landscape is considered here as a setting for cultural activities. By incorporating knowledge and insights from various fields, we develop stories that aid us in comprehending and expressing ourselves to others. Narration is utilised as a means for individuals to convey their experiences and emotions, with the environment serving as a stage for this purpose. In other words, places and landscapes serve as tools that create cultural attachment through actions that narratively produce meaning and value in a particular location, which humans can receive.

What does the landscape get from this?

I had a realisation that humans play a crucial role in how the landscape perceives itself. In other words, the landscape is alive through humans, as they are an integral part of it. This enables the landscape to witness time and eventually become self-aware. This concept encompasses all scales and measurements, from the macro to the micro level, as a single entity. As a result, human activities, such as the concept of time, movement in space, and environmental changes, all become integral parts of the three-dimensional space known as the landscape.

Information from human activity is intercommunicated (material, frequency and vibrational communication), enabling the landscape to understand itself comprehensively from multiple perspectives. The physical experience of being in the mountains helps create an awareness of its physicality, giving a sense of its appearance and sensation from the outside. Therefore, humans can be considered the sensors of the mountains.


Photo credit: Aleksi Jaakkola

Group sensing locations
At each location, the group members found spots on vegetation or stones to lie down with closed eyes, meditate, nap, ground, and be receptive.

34 W 503124.43 m E7660532.34 m N, elevation 702 m / Čoahpejávri
On a slope leading to Lake Čoahpejávri, there were many quartz-rich boulders and a row of dark stones.

34 W 501563.65 m E 7659603.11 m N, elevation 705 m / Norway
The location was on the side of a pathway in Norway, more or less in the midpoint from Saarijärvi to Kilpisjärvi.
34 W 494943.58 m E 7658495.88 m N, elevation 658 m / Sáná
This place is just on the foot of Sáná Mountain, near the marked testing grounds, and there was an excellent view to see us from the mountain's perspective.


Photo credit: Aleksi Jaakkola

Stone communication workshop
34 W 491968.75 m E 7659353.90 m N, elevation 482 m

As my contribution to a group activity of sharing our individual practices in hands/ears on a level, I prepared a short stone communication workshop. I took my extended group to a forest by the research station to a pre-chosen stone.

We all placed our hands on the stone after visually observing the surroundings and the stone. The physical connection offers stimuli for sensation, such as temperature, moisture, and the feeling of the surface. At this point, a clear intention is placed on connecting with the stone. At the same time, attention must be paid to the mental and physical reactions. Additionally, a sip of brandy was offered to the stone and all participants as an act of togetherness.

Crossing borders

I was here, travelling down to Skibotn a thousand years ago.
I look down at my feet. I see hiking boots.

I remember last time, what kind of shoes I had, what my hands looked like, any rings on my fingers?… family of giants, Mjöll, the crew...

Paths are crossing, lines from many directions.
All are connected.
I cannot see it,
I feel it.

Emotions make my eyes blurred,
I smell the salt coming from the sea.

High tide.

I collect three small stones.
By holding these stones, I will soon be there again.


Photo credit: Aleksi Jaakkola

Wide frame – working area (horizon bound- visual)

Operating in the broader frame means greater understanding, or does it?
Getting lost in the frame.
Wolverine is watching me playing with bones; bones want to dance,
wolverine sighs.
Bowing in front of flints, they shine in the sunlight.
They wanted to come with me, I asked.

Proud, so proud Wolve,
so many bones, spines, skulls, broken jaws, mature bone marrows.

Ten years ago, I stumbled on a stone with bones on it. - eager boy, enthusiastic, over mystifying, too fast making conclusions.
Thinking no, it's the mountain's turn to speak.

The birds carry the bones; everything is consumed, with no waist.
Killers and followers.

The arrow shows the way. I am back.
You can only show your compass from a distance; I travelled a full circle.

Now, tell me why I am here in Sáná.

Zooming in and out

In Kilpisjärvi I was observing landscape, plants and lichen in different scales through different lenses: eyes, digital photography, analog photography, solargraphy, microscope, paper frame etc.

I think about the landscape of Kilpisjärvi, its many layers, different stories from visitors and residents, each with their own. The road tells about wartime. Lidar map data of deer pits. I see  the northern landscape and Saana. Locals have their own perspective and stories. "The landscape is beautiful when the reindeer are calm”, I was told. The landscape is simultaneously empty and full -wilderness and a cultural landscape. Its beauty can be visual and practical.  There were at least as many perspectives of the landscape as there were travelers in our group. How to understand the layered nature of the landscape? Endless perspectives, stories, narratives. Can landscape ever be a shared experience?

Around the Kilpisjärvi biological station you can see numerous demarcated research areas of different sizes. When an area is marked for research use, it is visually separated from the surrounding landscape. Marked area, something is being studied here, do not touch. So I decided to approach the landscape through a tiny chosen area. I made my own "tool", a piece of paper with a one square centimeter-sized hole. The tool I used did not fit easily into the three-dimensional nature. Some of the plants pushed out of the square centimeter. The tool and technology play a part in the choice. Nature resists my tools.

I wondered how large-scale changes - climate change, shifting of the tree line - manifest themselves on a very small level, all the way down to the level of the life of a single plant or animal. How to tell about phenomena through a detail, a fragment, an individual? How to visualize it? How to focus your gaze? I observed my little squares. My eyes see the shapes of the surface, not below.  I tried to identify plants, mosses and lichens. I took photos. The paper frame resembled a camera's viewfinder. Who spotted who? A kind of pinhole or lens in between. I took plant samples from the squares with me and examined them under a microscope. I wondered what kind of narratives these little beings can tell me? And what can be said with them? How to tell about “Andscapes”?



Tourist, Scientist, Artist: Who am I when I travel halfway around the world to be here in Lapland? Tourist? Scientist? Artist? These are three ways of coming and looking at this place that is far from home, three roles I have navigated in the two-week research laboratory. 

I would like to suggest that beneath the social differences of these roles, there is a shared dynamic of encounter and documentation as an extractive exchange. Each comes with an expectation of encounter and the tools to facilitate this. 

The tourist seeking a wilderness experience brings hiking gear, a camera, a map, and extracts an experience, wilderness photos, and a social media story.

The scientist comes to extract knowledge with specific protocols and equipment for perceiving the unseen.

How do I (we) come as artist-researchers? To mediate ways of seeing for a distant audience? To author (to declare ownership of) alternative ways of seeing? The additive edict of Andscapes proposed to append an and/or to habitual, and I suggest, intrinsically extractive, modes of looking,  boots, we cannot so easily change our accultured world-viewing. Our baby step here is to come with Looking, knowing, documenting and seeking to attune with endemic entities and conscious use of tools and attentiveness to physical and durational scale.


I brought with me the understanding that a human being can attune with a tree, sensory body to sensory body, my spinal column like a tuning fork. Sharing breath; theirs resinous and earthy, mine warm, moist and carbon dioxide laden. Here at Field_Notes, I learned how a human might attune with stone, how to wait quietly with their crystalline memory and feel their slow deep energy.


Attunement + tools

In the spirit of ‘and, and, and’ I asked myself is it possible for a human to step further and attune with and through the tools we have in our hands, cameras, tripods microscopes and sound recording devices? Two weeks later my subjective and scientifically unprovable experience is that if I consciously and attentively align my sensory body with the sensing characteristics of these devices, (or, to acknowledge their agency, these sensing entities), I may attune with (sense an energetic exchange with) entities too small or too distant for my eye and mind to comprehend.


Attunement + scale

Stepping now from abstraction to practice, I spent many hours on my knees observing and documenting the tiny beings living in the tundra; mosses, lichens, mushrooms and tiny fruiting plants. Through spending time with them, I was seeking to move from looking-at to being-with. To become familiar with their small lively community in the hope that familiarity might transition, even a little, toward kinship. This was followed by a further subjective and unscientific first-person experience; when taking part in a group meditation and attunement standing barefoot in an open, cleared area I had a sudden optical flash of a moss community accompanied by a searing pain in my right shoulder. Was this some sort of attunement with soil grieving for its blanketing moss family? Or was it just my mind constructing a story? – Or can I stay with the unfamiliar notion that seeking to delineate ‘just my mind’ from ‘objective sensory data’ is an unnecessary binary division?

Thoughts along Lapland’s Landscape: On Measure and Scale 
(co written with Patrick Blenkarn)

When walking through an Arctic landscape, your eyes can easily be deceived. With small trees or manmade structures, it’s easy to mistake something tens of kilometre scale away for being only a two kilometre hike away. 

The Arctic is a web of hyperobjects, objects that, as philosopher Timothy Morton describes, can never be seen in their entirety. Hyperobjects are so vast in temporality and in spatiality, that we humans are never able to see anymore than a slice of one at any given time. 

And yet, the High Arctic is being watched carefully. Observable data that is being collected by researchers increasingly plays both a scientific and political function. To observe is to watch over, to protect—and, as we all know, that which is often being observed north of 60 ̊ is quickly disappearing.
Together, the individual works that make up the project explore the interwoven nature of biological, social, and techno-scientific systems, as well as pose the question: how might the scientific and artistic tools we are use move us, if at all, beyond being passive observers towards being active reweavers of the bonds between living things?