Dear pine tree, hello. We have not met before although I've been passing by many times over the years and recently even looked at you because your bent trunk is such an inviting bench almost, to sit on. I hope I'm not too heavy for you when I'm sitting here, but I guess not, because I can't feel you reacting to my way in any way. And now the frozen ground provides support, of course. I thought I would be coming to visit you a few times because I live nearby and try to instigate some sort of conversations with you. I've tried that before with the pine on Örö Island, on the shore there, and I thought it would be interesting to meet somebody who is a neighbour because we are neighbours really. You're growing or living here in a small group of pines below the main hill in the park, so somewhat protected from the winds from the north and especially northwest. And you have a great view of the sea if you wish. I don't know if it has any meaning for you. Right now I'm sitting with the sea to my back or to my right shoulder, facing northeast actually, looking at a group of people trying to have a party outdoors. There's a lot of kids around using the icy slopes for sliding down. It's Saturday today and sunny and rather chilly so the snow is not wet so it's a perfect weather for outdoor games. I'm not so fond of slippery slopes. On the contrary, I find the icy paths really heavy to navigate. So I'm very happy to sit here with you, because you're so stable and well, comforting. I can't say you're warm right now, you're actually rather cold, too, but somehow reassuring. I wonder what made you bend so low, if there was some accident or if something was preventing you from growing straight up like your family around. Of course this bent form where you follow the ground and then slowly rise towards the sky in this soft curve makes you easier to approach for a human being. You might wonder why I'm speaking English to you when we're here in Helsinki or Helsingfors in Swedish and the natural languages would be Finnish or Swedish. I guess it doesn't matter for you what language I speak because I think you react to the sound of my voice. Trees and many plants can hear quite a lot, I hear. Or, then you might be able to read my thoughts. That sounds a little bit weird to suggest but how can I know? So I like to think that although this might feel or look or sound like a somewhat one-sided conversation or even a monologue I hope that I will become sensitive and sort of increase my capacity to understand what you're thinking or saying or expressing or wishing. But that might be for the next time. This was just my first attempt at addressing you. I'll be back again. Thank you for this moment together. Take care.
Hello pine, it is cold, windy. A few days ago, the sun was shining and the ice was melting. But yesterday all this snow came down. And now it's really cold. They've been cutting down the branches of your neighbor's, some sort of park maintenance work, I suppose. And some of your branches too, I hope it didn't hurt. But let's hope they know what they're doing, maybe you grow better then, or perhaps is just to avoid thickets or something like that. It's almost a month since I visited you last time. Although I've been visiting the pine on the other side of the hill, almost daily now. When I thought that I should come and talk with you, I didn't really know what to, what to tell you. Because I have only sad news, there is war in Europe. The second week of Russian invasion in Ukraine. There has been a lot of talk of what to do about it. Even discussions about if Finland and Sweden should become part of NATO, because Russia is so unpredictable, and so on. But that's something which hardly interests you, I guess. Another thing I thought about was… I am following some astrological pages. And I like to read the forecasts , or not really forecasts but the ideas of, of life cycles of time. And normally, the influences are rather brief, a few days or maybe a few months. But now I had an announcement that, a further cycle by Pluto, planet Pluto, is going to come into opposition, which means that I would be starting a development that would last about 250 years. So something that would continue long after I'm gone. Some sort of work related thing, which has to do with the society at large. That sounded rather scary, because I'm not involved in political work or social work or community work even. And then I started to think, could it somehow relate to something that I should write? Or is it something I should do together with you or your relatives? What could it be? Or is it rather something that I don't know that I'm a part of, but will be part of without being aware of it? And as a contrast I thought about my late mother saying that when you’re really stressed and everything goes wrong you should think, what does this mean after 100 years. But she thought that in terms of putting things into perspective, that things don't maybe feel so important then. But now, on the one hand with the war, but especially with the climate crisis and the extinction of species, what something means after 100 years is really important. And everything or anything we do, can have far reaching consequences. Well, I don't know what else to tell you. I'm too cold to sit here any longer, but I'm really happy to see you. And to see that you're doing fine. That's one good thing with the planetary cycles. Spring is coming. It will come. So let's hope for that. See you soon again. And take care.
Hello, Pine. Or should I say dear Pine. Nice to see you again. I was here a few days ago, and I didn't realize it was very windy then; it was cold, but it was very windy. So a lot of what I tried to speak to you was not audible. Right now there is some sort of helicopter or other flying thing above us making a lot of noise, too. But I hope this is audible. And perhaps you can somehow read my thoughts if you can't hear my voice. Although I know they say that plants actually can hear. It might be strange to call a big pine tree like you for a plant. But of course you are a plant as well. The sound of the motors in the air reminds of the current situation. Although I'm not afraid of those helicopters, I think they're not doing anything related to war. But there is a war going on in Europe right now. And a horse sledge is riding around, because It's Saturday today. You can hear the bell, jingle bells. They ride here for tourists or visitors who want to have the experience. I wonder what the helicopter is looking for, really. There is a war in Europe going on, as I told you, not here, but not that far away, in Ukraine. It's the same longitude actually the same time, as we have here, but further south. And they too, are bordering on Russia. So Russia has invaded them and tries to incorporate them back into Russia, I suppose. It's horrible, because EU and the Western countries try to support Ukraine, but they want to avoid a World War. And from the Russian perspective, they somehow claim that they're going to liberate the poor Russians that are suffering in Ukraine. Which is like, very weird retorics. So with the same idea, they could very well come and liberate the Russians that live in Finland, too. But the sad thing is that they're bombing civilian targets and causing a lot of suffering. But of course, in the long run, the economic sanctions against Russia will cause a lot of suffering to the Russian people as well. So the Russian leaders really should think twice. Everybody speaks of Putin only, but I don't think it's only one person who is responsible. Anyway, I understand you're not so interested in questions of war. And you're probably not old enough to have experienced the bombing of Helsinki during the Second World War. Or maybe you were a youngster. I have never experienced a war nearby in my lifetime. But of course, my parents did, and my grandparents experienced two world wars. So I really, really, really hope that the war would end soon. And that it would not spread towards the north. It's strange, how quickly things can change. Sometimes they change so very, very, very slowly. There is something in the Imperial ideology that still remains from the 19th century. But otherwise, the whole situation in Europe changed in one week. Well, I'm not an expert on international politics, and I shouldn't bother you with that. But they relate to time. And time is something that I think we could talk about, because you have a sense of time, don't you? I'm sometimes fascinated by astrology, although it's a pseudo-science in a way, but the mathematics are exact, it's only the interpretations that vary hugely. But in in one such prediction, I read that I have Pluto on my MC right now, or for a few months. And one interpretation was hilarious, or terrifying, because it said that I would be part of a process that would come into fruition within 250 years or more. And that's way beyond my way of even imagining what life would be like, not to speak of that I would be anywhere around. So in some sense, that's a huge challenge. What could I contribute to that would be important in 250 years? I remember my late mother used to say that when things are really chaotic, and everything goes wrong, and everything is a mess, then it's good to think, what will this mean in 100 years time. And she meant that as a sort of perspective, because many of the things that we think are important, wouldn't be that important, if we look at them from 100 years from now. But today, because of the climate crisis, the climate change, the global warming, and the extinction of species and all the environmental degradation, which threatens to make life somehow unlivable, for humans at least, on the planet, suddenly thinking in terms of 100 years from now, becomes very important. So it really does matter what we do now, even the trivial details sometimes.Well, I don't know if I sort of … sitting here with you, what does it contribute to anything actually, I wonder. Or am I sitting here simply to to somehow try to establish a contact, aware that I somehow depend on you and your kin for life support. But maybe also to find some sort of peace of mind for a moment. It sounds strange and egotistical or somehow curious in this situation, but being worried without doing anything doesn't help anybody, I guess. The good thing with planetary cycles is of course that although everything changes, some things come again like the spring. And today you can really feel that because the sun is almost warm. Here we're sitting in the shade; I'm actually not only in your shade but in the shade of your neighbors. But in the sun, you can feel the warmth increasing and the snow is really melting now, slowly. I guess you, too, enjoy the increase in light because it gives you energy; it helps your digestion or well it's not called like that, it is photosynthesis of course. So, your food production becomes easier or stronger. There the horse sledge comes back again; romantic anachronism in a way but somehow, it's also nice to see a horse, suddenly, here, and to think that 100 years ago there were plenty of horses, probably. Well, what else can I say? I hope that in 100 years, there will be plenty of pine trees and also in 250 years. So, goodbye for now and see you soon and take care.
Hello Pine, nice to see you again. It's been almost a month since I was here last time. The snow has melted a little bit, but there is still a lot left of it or actually not snow, but ice. And it feels like March, although it's the eighth of April. So this is what we call in Finnish Takatalvi, 'back winter'. When I thought about coming to you, today, I thought about this idea of speaking to you instead of writing to you. And whether it would somehow increase the feeling of liveness or at least real-time, which is important for traditional performance art. We had a discussion with some colleagues, an online discussion, related to digital performances last week. It was a continuation of a discussion we had two years ago when the pandemic had forced us all on Zoom and Teams and whatever. And it was funny that not that much had changed in these two years, although we have become more comfortable, and used to Zoom conversations and online events, and so on. But that discussion reminded me of a text from 2008 by Philip Auslander, which is about liveness. I mean, he has written about liveness before in dialogue or in, or arguing against actually the classic idea by Peggy Phelan, and many performance artists that performance art is ephemeral, that it becomes itself through disappearance. And, like trying to document or mediate performance art, turns it into something else. And that's true in some sense, of course. But that was not what interested us at that point, but more about how performance takes place in digital environments, and the changing idea of liveness. And that's something that was, that came up already in the text in 2008. Or actually Auslander references, Nick Couldry, who wrote in 2003, about online liveness and group liveness. And those are of course, quite strong now. His main text is about the collaboration of a musician who is playing together with a robot. But what interested me was this change of the idea of liveness from being in the same place at the same time to being in contact at the same time, like via streaming or telephone or internet and so on. But why that interests me is actually related to, also to the idea of liveness as interaction. Because it changes our relationship, your mine, my relationship to trees or plants in general, if I would somehow need to imagine or need to experience that you respond to me immediately in order for me to feel that you are alive. So if a robot responds to me, a machine responds to me, and that makes me feel that the machine is alive. Do you then feel dead simply because you don't react in the same manner. I'm sure you react, and we exchange chemicals, and all kinds of material and semi-material stuff, but you're not responding to me in a way a robot might, or an animal, or another human, at least not so that I can experience it. And that's somehow horrifying to me. I'm not worried about digital performances taking over, or we spending too much time on zoom. On the contrary, if we learn to use technologies, so that we can be outdoors and share... I could share this moment with other people online, and with you, although this is now a recording, but it could be a live streaming. And that's a richness. But what is really not a richness, which is really a catastrophe is if we lose our understanding of other beings as alive. So, if I wouldn't be able to sense that you are a living being simply because you don't behave like the robots I'm used to work with, that would be horrible. Of course, if I'm really honest, how do I know that you are alive? I know it via my experiences of other plants. Or if I really try to sense it, can I can I feel that you're alive? I'm not sure. I mean, you seem very much alive, because it's good to breathe with you. And of course, now the wind moves your needles and so on. But strictly speaking, you're not responding to my talking to you directly. But anyway, even though it might be partly based on previous knowledge, I really appreciate the fact that I can feel that you are alive. And regardless of your behaviour towards me. Well, why do I speak about this to you? Because, well, it came to my mind. And because this idea of speaking to you, rather than writing to you, hopefully increases the sense of liveness for you, but especially then for the listener or viewer of the recording. Because unlike when I wrote letters to some trees, and I then later read them and recorded them, although the text was exactly the same that I wrote there and then, of course, the recording took place later, and it could be edited and so on. But this is rough. So if the wind destroys the sound every now and then that's what happens right now. It's quite cold and it's quite wet, so I think I'll leave you again for a moment, or not for a moment. I leave you for several weeks, maybe almost a month again. But I want to thank you for letting me sit here and talk with you. And I really appreciate your being there and being present with me, even though you don't respond to me directly. So thank you for being there. Bye.
Hello pine. It's a while since I've been here. Today, it's Sunday, it's Mother's Day. And the weather is changeable. A few minutes ago, there was some hail, but also sun. And the wind is unpredictable. I hope it will not destroy our conversation completely. Or my talking and your listening. Although I try to listen to you as well. Because it's Mother's Day, I thought I would talk to you about the book by Suzan Simard, Finding the Mother Tree. But then I happened to read a text called The Camera People, written by Eliot Weinberger, recommended to me by an anonymous peer reviewer, who commented a text that I had written. And I read it and and thought at first that well, why should I read this text about ethnographic filmmaking? A very funny essay criticising the idea, or ideas of ethnographic filmmakers earlier, it's published already in 1992, about the idea of objective filmmaking, and trying to capture reality. And it begins by describing this strange group of people who think they are invisible, coming to a village with huge machines and putting up their camp and imagining that they wouldn't be influencing the people they're visiting. So I wonder, should I think of you as a native here, that I'm somehow ethnographically trying to document? No, I never thought of that possibility, really. But of course, it could be that I could, I would try to document your life. But then sitting on your branch and talking to you wouldn't be the right way to do it, I guess. But then I read in the text ...there were many descriptions of strange films and so on, but but then there was a reference to the anthropologist Margaret Mead and her idea that you could put a camera in the corner somewhere and just put it on and leave it there recording and that it could capture reality or the real actions because people would forget about them, forget about the camera, that is. And in a strange manner, that is of course what I'm doing. There is a camera behind my back and it's recording part of you and, and me sitting here. But the idea is not that we forget about the camera. On the contrary, I'm doing this because of the camera and because of the iPhone that I'm having in my hands, and that records my speech to you. There was also in the same article, there was a funny list of 14 or 16 points, like demands or requirements created by somebody called Heider, what ethnographic film, what rules it should follow in order to be scientific. And these included many things like minimal, minimising inadvertent distortion, and of course minimising deliberate, intentional distortion of the activities. The idea of ethnographic presence - well, I'm present, sure, - but also the idea of recording whole people and whole actions using continuity of time, as long as possible, real time and synchronous sound, un-manipulated sound even and demystifying narration. I wonder if this narration is demystifying. And many other details that I funny enough could recognise as principles that I have been following, without realising, not for the same reasons though. For me the idea of real time, or un-manipulated image or un-manipulated sound is more a value of simplicity. It's not about reality, or documentation or truth, but aesthetic simplicity. So, paradoxically, the reason for me to follow those principles is the very opposite, that they were created for. Namely, they were created to avoid too much focus on aesthetic considerations. Well, this whole idea of sort of objectivity is problematic. And although I'm using these tools of simple, so called objective recording of events, I'm not claiming that this is in any way objective. On the contrary, I'm very subjective here and you're very subjective, in your way. And I'm really reminded of Usula Le Guin's phrase from a text, which I hope I can quote it approximately correctly, when she explained that she's trying to subjectify the universe, because look where objectifying it has gotten us. Yes, a lot of the problems we're facing come from our view of everything around us as objects or trying to take a so called objective view instead of respecting the different subjective perspectives of various creatures. And of course, there is this classic feminist tradition, pointed out by Donna Haraway in her Situated Knowledges already in the 80s that there is no other way to objectivity or intersubjectivity, let's put it, then combining partial perspectives. So instead of trying to have a God's eye view, an objective view, a non-personal view that would somehow be outside of everything, we have to accept that we are here in this mess, and have our own perspectives on things. And then by combining and comparing them, we might find some common ideas or some intersubjective things to agree upon. Well, we have a long way to go dear pine, to find a way of creating some intersubjective perspectives amongst us. But I thank you very much for for letting me sit here and agonise today in the cold wind. But the spring is coming and let's see what happens. I wish you all the best and thank you for today.
Hello, Pine. Nice to see you again in such different circumstances, much more pleasant now. This is the beginning of summer, it's the sixth of June. And yesterday was the first day when it felt a little bit warm. Right at my feet, there are a lot of Veronicas in bloom. And there is some sort of shrub right in front of me, but probably not visible in the image, with white flowers. It could be a hawthorn, I think, but I'm not sure. The big poplar tree behind it doesn't have any leaves yet, though, but otherwise - or perhaps small leaves, small brownish leaves. Otherwise, everything is green. I come to you today because this is the first day that I have a completely free day, free in the sense of no scheduled duties except one meeting with a friend later in the afternoon. And for two weeks now I've been busy gallery sitting in the Telegraph gallery on Harakka Island with exhibition, The Pine Revisited and other video works. And that pine is a pine I performed with on Harakka Island in the southern part of the island for the first time during the year of the dog in 2006 and the beginning of 2007. And I've since revisited once in 2018 and now before the exhibition. So that was my first pine friend. But compared to that pine, you're so much more accessible, but quite a lot younger too. I can sense that there is some, I have forgotten what the name is, the glue like substance, resin probably coming from your stem, so hopefully I didn't hurt you. Maybe it's something else. But it smells nice. There is a lot of motor sounds both from the park maintenance, but also the traffic around. I, well, I thought yesterday that I should discuss the problem of pondering with you because I realized that my daily 'ponderings' with the big pine on the hill are actually not supposed to be with that pine at all, but like more of field notes or diary notes. And the pondering should take place with you. Well, it's hard to maintain such strict divisions. But when I thought about what I could talk with you about today I looked up a beautiful little text that was sent to me by Magdalena Zamorksa, a scholar who visited me last week and also helped in building the exhibition. And she sent a text which was from an online magazine, an extract from a book called The Mind of Plants, where Robin Wall Kimmerer, the botanist and indigenous scholar, who is now very famous, and whose book Braiding Sweetgrass everybody quotes, she writes about white pines, and how they are considered elders,some sort of leaders even by some traditions. But she also very beautifully explained something that Luce Irigaray had said before, that you're not, your way of speaking, or talking is in your being. So you're not saying things, you're doing things. And not only that, because you're doing things with your environment, of course, but you're expressing yourself with your own body. She doesn't use the word express but, the idea that your body is your word, your body is your speech, your body is your statement to the world. And that's, of course, something that traditional performance artists would very much appreciate. I'm not engaged in body art in the traditional sense, or not even in performance art in the traditional sense. I'm recording things for video, or sound, but this idea that your body is your work of art, that's true for you, dear pine. And not only a work of art, but a statement about the place you live in, a statement about the times you've lived, a memoir of sorts, instead of writing memoirs, like human beings, sometimes do. Our bodies are, of course, also our memoirs, they are the traces of our lives. But of course, human lives are more perishable and shorter than the life of a pine tree potentially. And somehow, of course, the classic idea of the tree rings as being the writing of the trees, very exactly recording the circumstances each year. They could probably be expanded to human bones or something like that. She also speaks about intelligence, and how narrow minded it is to think of intelligence being restricted to the human understanding of intelligence. Because living in a specific place, and making decisions about how to grow and which way to grow and where to look for nourishment, and where to look for humidity and where to avoid the wind breaking your branches and so on. There are so many things that you have to be very intelligent for, to just to stay alive for a pine tree. But she also refers to the idea that you don't need a portable brain. So unlike humans, and animals who move about, they need their brain to be easy to carry with them. So they have a centralised brain, often in their head, like we have, although the gut has a lot to say also and the microbes in the gut, as I heard from a seminar recently. But for trees and other plants, such portable brains are not necessary. So you can have a dispersed brain in your root tips, and in your branches and wherever you spread out into the world. And of course, she didn't write about that, but I started to think about this human obsession with portability, because not only is our brain portable, we want our computers to be portable, our phones to be portable, our cameras to be portable, sometimes our homes to be portable as tents or as cars, it's a kind of portable home, too. Everything should be able to move with us. And there is something very funny and absurd about that, but that's probably a development of the way our bodies have developed. So I wonder what, yeah, what would be the pine way; everything should be possible to expand in all directions, probably or sort of maximum democracy in a way, because every branch is further divided into smaller branches and they make their own decisions about what to do and how to grow and which way to move. It's now very tangible because there are the new shoots, and the new cones or, they're not flowers, but cones-to-be, light, yellow-greenish, and the ones that I see right in front of me are bent in weird ways in all directions. I guess it takes quite a lot of energy for you to produce all these new cones. I am tempted to call them flowers, but I know that coniferous trees don't have flowers, that flowers are a much later invention. I should read more about pines, I always say that .I've found now a book that I have at home and can keep until August, which is called The Ecology and Biogeography of Pinus. And that is the whole family of pine trees. The pine trees that Robin Wall Kimmerer writes about are white pines. And they are not the same as you, that is, your English name is a Scots pine. But I think it's funny to call you Scots pine here, so we call you just pine or 'Mänty' or 'Honka', or 'Petäjä', although 'Honka' and 'Petäjä' would maybe not be used for you because they would be like tall pines. And you're a reclining pine. Well, what else could I tell you? Or what else could I ask you? What do you think about all the small ants that are climbing on your bark? Your bark here is quite soft and reddish and resembles the bark of pine trees high up near the crown. Whereas the part of the bark that I normally come in contact with is much thicker and sort of covered with more dead stuff, I assume. But yeah, we discussed a lot about plant ethics with Magdalena, because that's her topic of interest. And I realized that I haven't devoted much thought to that. Except that somehow it's important to have some guidelines, of course, so I try not to hurt you as my collaborator, and I try to somehow respect your specific relationship to place so that's why I come to you here. And I would like to respect your specific relationship to time, but that is somehow very difficult for me to understand. So I'm not really sure what your relationship to time is. You certainly live according to the seasonal cycles but are you so slow as human beings try to or tend to think that all trees would be? Or is it just that your reactions are not visible or audible or sensible to me immediately because they're mainly chemical in nature? Stupid to sit here and ponder about such things when they are things that I could go and just read. And now the wind is here, uh. It's probably hitting the microphone, and it makes your branches swing slightly. Perhaps I should take the wind, the gusts of wind as a sign that I should leave you alone now. And thank you again for this moment. Hope to see you soon again, at least in a month or so, if not earlier. So enjoy the summer and the abundance of light and warmth. Thank you and bye bye.
Hello Pine, nice to see you again. I can see that you have had a lot of visitors, because there is a small path leading to this place where I'm sitting now on your trunk. It's very windy, I try to protect the microphone. But it might be that sometimes the wind covers our conversation. The strange noise audible is from a guy working on a construction for playing with skateboards, I don't know what they're called, but like something where you can slide up and down with them. It's painted in rainbow colours and made of wood. And he's now somehow fastening some of the parts or something. When I came from a different direction I saw the construction. And for a moment I was horrified: My God, have they taken down the pine in the cluster here where you grow. And it was like a moment of shock. But then I realized that no, it's just in front of this group of pines. So no problem for you. On the contrary, you've had more visitors, I guess. I'm also in town only for a quick visit. And I didn't plan to come to you at all. But when I saw you, I realized that this would be my only chance to meet you in July because I'm going to a place in the centre of southern Sweden in Småland, which is called Bodafors, to a wood art residency there. That's actually quite fascinating because the Wood Art Residency generally often means artists who work with wood as material and I guess I'm the first one who is working with living trees. I'm looking forward to spending time in that small community. I visited the place briefly a few weeks ago and noticed that there are not that many pine trees there. There are some pines in the forest but it's mainly spruces and all kinds of deciduous trees. I'm going to miss you, probably, because I don't think there are pines I can sit on, in, with, like I can sit on you here. I hope you're fine. It's somehow, this heat wave that has been here for a week or so makes you look a little bit exhausted in my eyes but maybe I'm imagining. It's just that because there hasn't been any rain there is of course.. you haven't had... there is dust on your needles, maybe. You haven't had a chance to have a shower and so on. Some dry needles remain hanging on. But this harsh wind, if it's turning a little bit, because you're partly protected here, except your crown, might shake off all the rubbish. Because I didn't plan this visit I have sort of no topic to discuss with you today, but perhaps I could tell you about my travel to Iceland, to Reykjavik. And my great surprise that there are plenty of pines growing there, nowadays. They have planted something called contorta pines, which are more, they're more sort of, their basic growth area is North America. But there are some contorta pines in Sweden and also, I read on the internet, in Finland as experimental plantations so to speak. But there most of the pines where these contorta pines, which looked very exotic, because their bark is grey, and different from yours. And their needles are much longer. So I first thought they were some sort of cembra pines. And then they have a very particular form, but they are very clearly pines. And that reminded me of that you are actually a huge family with a lot of variation. And it's somehow strange that I have encountered mainly your type of pines, that is Pinus sylvestris, and learned to appreciate the huge variety already within your family. But anyway, I have with me a big book on the ecology and geography of the pinus family, which I plan to read there in Bodafors, so that I would learn a little bit more about pines instead of just relying on my prejudices and superficial impressions. So when I come back to you next time, I might have some new questions for you. I hope you have a nice July, take care.
Hello Pine, it's me again, the talking human. It's quite a while since I was here, at least a month, or so it feels. I returned to Helsinki last night from Mynämäki, Saari residence. I was spending almost two weeks there with a project called In Light of Plants and meeting some pine trees there as well. And I see you've had some company. There was a cork from a wine bottle placed on your trunk where I sit now and higher up on your trunk there is a pair of sunglasses placed on your trunk in a way that, well, creates a face of sorts to your trunk. So there has been people partying here. I also see from your needles, which are yellow, many of them are yellow and dry, that you've suffered from the drought. It's been very hot for a long time now, several weeks, and very dry. Probably there will be some rain later this week, that's what they're sort of forecasting, but you never know. And this is somehow some sort of try-out for what is to be expected in coming years, more droughts, more warmth, more storms. It's scary. Usually we here up in the north take great delight in the short periods of warmth and enjoy as much as we can, but now this heat is like a reminder of what is to come, and scary. Well, anyway I had a good time with some of your kin in Saari. Actually I was working closely with for pine trees, three of the same species as you, that is Scots pines or Pinus sylvestris and then one very spectacular pine, which probably I think is a Macedonian pine, Pinus peuce, or in Finnish we would say 'peuce', I don't know how you pronounce that in English, with long soft needles and very large pinecones with a lot of resin. There were windy days so many, many, many pinecones had fallen down on the ground, as there are pinecones beneath you as well. Because they were so huge I really wanted to try to create something out of them and made a small crown and sort of what would you call it, a cape or something to hang from your neck to fall down on your back. And performed with the pine in that dress for a camera. It was quite an extraordinary two weeks because most of our work was conversations with, among six very different artists and curators with some interest in plants in some manner. So, it was a group gathered together and coordinated by Sonyaa Schönberger from Germany and Feral Practices or Fiona MacDonald and Anna Souter came from the UK and then Egle oddo and Soko Hwang and me from Finland. But Egle is from Italy originally and Soko is from Korea so we were truly international group. On our last day of the residency or the day before the last, we also made a trip to Seili Island to see and witness and event organised or curated by Taru Elfving there. Exercises in attentiveness and how we know what we know with a lot of interesting program, and of course there was especially one session that I felt was important for me and that was a Lament to the Pines, a sort of sound ritual, something between not really theatre, not really performance, not really a choral work but a lament with some women dressed in black hugging trees, hugging pine trees. Because in the middle of the forest tall beautiful pine trees had been cut, that is killed or to be killed slowly. I now have forgotten what it's called in English but in Finnish you say 'kaulata', which means that you cut a deep wound all around the trunk of a tree. And they were, they had like two wounds. And that is to cut off the transport of liquids and nutrients between the roots and the crown and that will kill the pine tree slowly. I've seen that on Örö but there it's more like they had broad belts of bare wood visible around the pine trees. Here there were just deep cuts. And it's the Forest Department that has done that deliberately because they want that part of the forest to be deciduous trees. Somehow it felt very, very brutal. I can understand the efforts of maintaining an open landscape on Örö, but this brutal murder on Seili I had more difficulty in understanding. And obviously also the group who made the performance had trouble understanding, too. Yeah, but it was all in all quite an extraordinary event, because the island of Seili is also extraordinary in itself. It has a history as, first as a leprosy colony and then as an asylum for female mental patients, more of a prison I suppose. And now for long time there has been a research institute focusing on the study of herring among other things and developments in the Baltic Sea. I've been on the island before but it was great to go back there. I once performed there, or [not] once, in 2011 when we had a summer academy there I performed with a juniper which is growing right next to or in front of the old church, a wooden church from 1733 probably built of pine as well. Anyway the juniper that was somehow growing aslant already then was now looking much smaller than before, because it was almost completely overgrown by a willow that grew from the same root, sadly. But of course that's part of what is happening in nature all the time, things change. I hope you will get some water soon because I see that you're not feeling so good. And it feels bad that I cannot help you now. Well, I'm returning to Stockholm so it will take a while before we meet again. But in September surely. I wish you all the best and as I said I do hope that you will get some refreshing rain soon. Thank you for this moment together and yeah, what can I say, take care.
Hello pine, nice to see you again. It's been quite a while. Today I'm not alone in the park, there are kids and tourists and traffic. It's Sunday so no wonder. And it's very warm, it's really like end of summer feeling although it's clearly autumn. Because it's been so dry there is a lot of dry leaves everywhere and some of your needles are dry and so on. I thought about what to talk with you and the reason I somehow felt I could come to you today is because last night I was reading a book that was fascinating called Autotheory in Feminist Practice or something like that by Lauren Fournier. And I was reading only the beginning which is like a scholarly overview of the various traditions that have formed what is today called autotheory and some of them made sense in terms of what we're doing here together, from my perspective that is, sort of bridging theory and practice and the autobiographical with sort of cultural and theoretical more broadly. But then, well, to be honest I've never thought of my work as really autobiographical although that's what I'm doing, I'm creating a lot of diary-like stuff by entering into the image myself, but also now by talking to you. And on the other hand I've been cautious with theory because, well, I'm inspired by philosophers but theorising has never been my forte, and especially combining autobiographical experiences with theory. Somehow my identity position or my autobiographical experiences are not culturally relevant in the same way as some minority identities for instance are, which provide a position to theorise from based on one's own experiences. Of course I could think of my position as half Finnish half Finnish Swede, like the multilingual position as one such, but that's not really so relevant in my experience and there are many other people working on that with much sort of stronger and more problematic experiences. So yeah, autotheory is not something I've automatically considered a field for me, but of course the idea of combining theory and practice and the idea of somehow developing further the old feminist slogan "the personal is political", because what we think of as personal is often systemic and political exactly, and in the same manner as some of our private or personal experiences might have some theoretical relevance. But of course I'm coming to you not mainly because of wanting to record some autobiographical or autotheoretical ponderings, but to somehow have a conversation with you, dear pine. And for your part in order for this conversation to be autotheoretical I should consult your embodied statements much more in detail. There was a small text by Robin Wall Kimmerer, the indigenous scholar and botanist who is now much loved and read, a small text about white pines in a recently published book The Mind of Plants edited by John Ryan, Patricia Vieira and Monica Gagliano, and there she writes about pine trees writing their teachings in their body, in much the same way as Luce Irigaray wrote in some other context that plants speak by doing. Their language is in there doing. But even more than so, Robin Wall Kimmerer speaks as botanist about the writing that takes place with the year rings or annual rings with different, four different types of cellular markers, which is really like a scripture of sorts. Alright, I cannot read your annual rings of course and I can barely interpret the form of your body, but it's clear that you've experienced some really traumatic or at least dramatic episodes, because why would you otherwise have a trunk bent in the way you have. But it's my limitation that I cannot somehow decipher or divine out of that form what you're trying to express with that form, what experiences they evidence and so on. So your autotheoretical contribution is in your body. And of course one could say that is true for humans, too. We carry our life experience in our bodies. I'm very aware of that now when I'm suffering of osteoporosis, that is the weakening of the bone structure, which the doctors say it's probably because I was a chain-smoker for more than 30 years. So everything we do has some repercussions, consequences. But yeah, I'm going back to myself again and of course that's what autobiographical writing or women's writing or even autotheory sometimes is accused of, of being narcissistic and self-obsessed and even self-indulgent. Well, nobody's is accusing you of being self-indulgent because you document in your body the circumstances that you have lived in. On the other hand nobody is taking it as a serious statement either, or very few people are taking it as a serious statement. I wish I would understand your bodily writing better than I do. Well, I'm chatting away again rather than trying to listen to you or experience you or feel myself to your presence. It's windy, I hope the wind won't disturb this recording too much. Maybe I should leave you, but I'm really happy that I had the opportunity to sit here in this beautiful weather and I hope to see you soon again. So thank you for this and keep going strong. Take care. Bye.
Hello pine, nice to see you again. It's been more than a month since I was here. Now it's October, end of October soon, so the park looks more bare. Many of the deciduous trees have lost their leaves and the sky is grey. The ground is damp; it's been raining all morning. There will be more rain this afternoon and evening. Right now there is no rain. You look quite fresh and seem not to suffer from the winds. There was a very heavy storm, a brief one but a heavy storm, thunderstorm strangely enough, two days ago or one and a half, in the night. But you're a summer partly protected by the rocks and of course by your strange form. I've been reading about biodiversity again in a book in Finnish called Elämän verkko or the web of life or net of life or something like that. And there is a lot of writers who have written a chapter each of their own specificity or a specialisation like biodiversity of the seas or the found quite interesting was a text on genetic diversity. So this idea the importance of species diversity, that there are plenty of different species living in an area, if possible, that makes the living conditions somehow... It enriches the living conditions but it's also more resilient because if there are like several species doing the same job in the ecosystem so to speak, then if something in the climate change or in some other circumstances sort of destroys a large part of one species then another species can jump in and take over the job. But not only this part is important but also the genetic diversity within a species and that's of course interesting. Because as with humans who were sort of island populations or some aristocratic families or isolated groups of people have made children together for generations again and again from a very limited group of people, a limited gene pool then they're prone to all kind of diseases and strange deformations and so on. And of course with animals that is even more so. Some animals might be sort of thriving population wise but in their history they have some event where only a few have survived so they're all descendants from a very small group and that may make their genetic variety more limited. And of course culturally speaking this idea of biodiversity or cultural diversity is reassuring. Of course when we think of cultural phenomena it's easy to identify with endangered species and rare forms of exclusive art forms and so on. But, on the other hand I like to think of this idea that all weird mutations might come in handy, you never know. So this idea that not only those beautiful rare specimens but all kind of weird formations and haphazardly formed mutations would be important and valuable. Of course then that would somehow require that they're allowed to participate in the gene pool. If I think of humans, if I would consider myself - sorry for being so egoistic, dear pine, I'm speaking of myself again - of course this same logic works with pines. Although I don't think that your weird form probably is the result of some genetic mutation but more your reaction to some harsh event, some sort of accident when you were young. But anyway, back to the human biodiversity and the value of weird mutations. So of course if those mutations don't get any offspring, if they're too weird to be able to reproduce, then that won't help the gene pool in the long run. So if I consider myself a weird mutation, I know I'm not a weird mutation, I'm a relatively average human, but anyway, if I consider myself a weird mutation then that is not of much help for the human gene pool here in Helsinki because I haven't reproduced so I have no children so my jeans are not participating in the future development of the gene pool. So, I have to try to contribute in some other manners. Of course the good thing that humans always remind each other and themselves is that humans can learn. Well rather than creating offspring I've been teaching other peoples offspring before and. Maybe these conversations we are having, or these talks to you that I'm recording can have some impact somewhere as well. But to be honest, regardless of impact I really enjoy talking to you because you're an inspiring conversation partner although not very responsive, I have to admit. What else could I tell you about? I'm thinking of the darkening days or darkening nights and shortening days. I was looking at my house plants and it's so clear that they're somehow preparing to suffer, because the winter, especially indoors when there is even less light, the winter is really hard, to have very little light. And then I give them too much water, which is not good because they should be in proportion. And of course in a little bit the same manner you will have now a lot of water and very little light, less and less. And to make matters worse it will also be cold soon. But I guess you're old enough to have experienced that rotation so many times so you're somehow prepared, looking forward or if not looking forward then at least somehow expecting some cold and dark days to come before the next spring. And of course as an evergreen you are really brave and keep on working all through the winter. And of course there might be sunny days and there is light even on grey days like this. So I wish you all the best in managing the autumn storms and enjoying the fresh and cool air, which might be actually more pleasant for you than and the dry dusty summer heat, how can I know. Thank you for letting me chat with you like this, and yeah, take care.
Hello dear pine, nice to see you again this damp November day. It's wet, you are wet, and misty. Harakka island behind my back is partly hidden in the mist. It's not really raining but it's sort of drizzle or it could start again any time. I wanted to come and meet you because I'm leaving for Stockholm for a few weeks on Saturday and today felt like a good day because I just completed a report I wrote about the performance last summer, which I didn't see, but I had the documentation and examine the work based on the documentation, which was extensive. So I spent the whole day yesterday with that. It's a performance by Henna Laininen, or not really by her, I mean written and directed by her, which it is called something like "the archive of sustainable culture" or something like that, a very ironic title. And I'm not going to explain the whole thing, but there was one ritual related to that work, which took place in the north of Finland and was compiled with a group of people, it was one part which was about burying words in the landscape by creating an archive, a sort of fantasy archive in the landscape. And when I walked here today I thought about this, our conversations, or my talks to you; what if they would be some sort of archiving, too. I always think that I should be listening to you more and talking less, but what if I think of this talk as my attempt at inscribing these testimonies of life right now into your trunk. In the same way as you can record in your annual rings, your growth rings what the weather was like and how much rain there was and so on, what if you could record my voice, too. And then, of course, the second thought is what kind of trivial babble am I actually trying to conserve in your trunk in that case. So maybe it's good that you're not recording this, but how can I know. A few days ago I came across an old issue of a Finnish Swedish cultural magazine called Ny Tid or new times; it's a very old magazine. And the theme issue was about the limits of fantasy or the limits of the imagination. There was a text written by the chief editor Janne Wass, I think, which referenced many things, for example the satire written by a theologian called Abbott in the 17th century about a one-dimensional or actually two-dimensional world, and how people had such difficulty in imagining or refused to imagine a world that was three-dimensional. And then also that the limits of imagination in the sense that we are very much restricted to what we already have experienced or had some sensory experiences of. So a lot of what we imagine or what we are able to imagine is actually combinations of previous experiences or at least based on them. And that of course doesn't bode very well for us trying to find completely new solutions to things. But why I'm talking to you about this is because there was a section, where he explained an experiment, a psychological experiment made some decades or a few decades ago, where scientists wanted to know where in the brain the sort of creative imagination is activated. And they made a test inviting both so-called creative people and then people from professions considered less creative, more mathematical or technical or whatever, to write essays and make some experiments on topics that they didn't know about, but to imagine for instance cities 500 years from now and so on. And then they looked at the brain scans or whatever the technology they used and the surprise was... I mean it was not so surprising that the creative people wrote more creative essays so to speak or used their imagination more freely, but the funny thing was that it was not the sort of centre of imaginative thinking that was activated but it was the area in the brain related to empathy that was activated. And then they thought about this and reasoned that actually the so-called creative people used their skills in empathy as tools in order to imagine how people 500 years from now would experience their cities. And so empathy was the technical device that they used in their imagination, and that's fascinating. And that, of course, made me think of you or our relationship. Although I don't consider myself really a creative person. Of course I should because I'm an artist, but I'm not using my imagination that much. On the contrary, I like routines, I like rules, I make like documentary work and so on. But with you I have to use my imagination or rather my empathy, so I try to imagine how you would like to be treated, or I try to imagine you as a living being like me. And of course this is why empathy has been criticised for instance by Michael Marder, because you can see it as only a way of projecting your own expectations on somebody else. So instead of respecting your otherness so to speak I am projecting my own feelings and associations and so on you. But this idea of empathy as a technical device or empathy as a tool made me rethink this critique, because that means that if I use empathy in trying to find ways to approach you, it's not only about anthropomorphising or anthropocentric attitudes, but it's actually an attempt at imagining possible ways. Well, that said, now the wind is swinging your trunk. I hope really I'm not to heavy sitting here. Wow, that was really like a reply. So yes, do I really use empathy when sitting here? Maybe I should really try to think how it feels. Sorry for that. I realise, although you're bent along the ground at the base of your trunk, the upper part of your trunk, which is quite high, and now when the wind comes from west or south west, that your crown takes a lot of pressure, yes. Anyway sorry for babbling away again, but I promise you I will try to practice empathy, not only with you but with the other creatures. Thank you for listening to me today and all the best in the autumn rains and possible storms, which get heavier and heavier, they say. Thank you thank, you.
Hello pine, nice to see you again in snow and wind. It's the sixth of December, Finnish Independence Day, and in front of me in the park a lot of kids are celebrating the snow by sliding down on the slope. It's really rather cold but bearable so far. I guess this is the last time I come to visit you. Well, it sounds ominous, I mean of course I'm going to pass by here and say hello and so on, but this will be probably my last recorded conversation with you, dear pine. And considering that I am not happy with the wind and try to protect the microphone and I also realise that considering that this should be our last conversation I'm not sure if I have something important to tell you or ask you. Of course, independence is important and somehow combined with independence now in these days is a sort of military patriotism, which is a specific kind of patriotism. I think you can be somehow loving your country and your place without so much war mentality, but because of the war in Ukraine, which is still going on, there is somehow a revival of all the memories of the wars and a lot of ammunition and military equipment has been purchased and yeah. In some sense it feels strange for an old pacifist like me, I mean I was a teenager in hippie time, so make love not war. But nevertheless probably in the genes of the Finns there is this idea of protecting independence. Well, but protecting your independence and recognising your belonging to a specific place, to a specific soil and so on, is not the same thing. Well, this was not what I planned to talk to you about. Actually I thought I could end by referencing a text that I'm reading at the moment, which is a doctoral dissertation, an artistic doctoral dissertation by a photographer, but because it's not public yet I maybe shouldn't disclose her name, the author's name, and I haven't even read it fully. I read the text as a pre-examiner, but it's really interesting and fascinating, because she writes about the landscape and landscape images and especially from the point of view of film and the relationship of photography and film, which is surprisingly enough not discussed that much in that context. And then of course I learn from her ideas that the image that we are now performing in or posing in is not a landscape image, it's an image of you or an image of you and me. Because according her a landscape image should be more distant, more open, and it shouldn't contain specific features like a tree. So this would be an image of a tree or a tree and a human being. The last part I read about was quite interesting; she constructed similarities between different type of dichotomies starting from the deleuzian time image and movement image but also with some other film theorists, something like transitive or intransitive cinema or narrative or poetic images and so on, where the main difference that she focuses on, is on the idea of is the film or the image depicting action or being. And of course then this is an interesting question, what are we here depicting, because I feel very active sitting here and talking to you. But on another level we're just here, we're not, there is not much action in a filmic sense or what you usually combine with moving images. This is a very static picture, it's almost a photography and I'm not moving that much and you're not moving that much, a little bit in the wind maybe. But still, this action of having a conversation would probably count as an action for her, unlike some of my other posing with pine trees, where I'm not talking and more like still, they could reflect more of a being mode, but they feel just as much action as well, because standing still with your arms raised or with your bent knees or whatever, that's an action, too. Well, but this relationship between film and photography is interesting, because this, because my background is not in photography - well, my background is in theatre actually - but for a photographer catching the right moment or like for her, catching the essence of the landscape, the right angle to catch the true nature or character of the landscape or in this case you, the pine, would be important. Whereas because I work with video and especially often with repeated video images like time-lapse or otherwise repeated, it's more the, I like to keep things constant and that is the effort, because I want to depict the movement between the images. Or somehow that there is not one essence of you or this landscape but it's constantly changing either depending on my perspective but also depending on the weather, on the light, on everything. Well, these are truisms, we've been talking about these things before. So, I wonder what else to say to end this conversation or series of conversations besides of course the obvious, to say thank you. I'm really really grateful for these moments and I'm going to miss you, although we've met only approximately once a month it has been important to have the opportunity to sit here and talk with you. And although I cannot claim for a direct reciprocity; there is no way I can find out right now to compensate for your gifts to me, but maybe that could come to you somehow in a roundabout manner, if I manage to create a nice podcast of this or even a video or something like that. So, if you're not having the benefit of this maybe some of the pine trees out in the forest could be spared cutting for instance or felling or maybe somebody will give you a warm thought. This is idealism and optimism but if we think that like attracts like then I hope that my optimism would attract more optimism or happy thoughts not only for me, but for you as well. And I really hope that you do not suffer too much of the cold, because I'm quite impressed of your capacity to endure this. My toes are really cold and my fingers are cold and I'm starting to freeze, so I hope you feel alright. Thank you very much and take care.