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This exposition documents my explorations of pondering with pine trees.
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Annette Arlander -
Pondering with Pines - Miettii Mäntyjen Kanssa - Funderar med Furor -
This exposition documents my explorations of pondering with pine trees.
Tämä ekspositio dokumentoi yritykseni miettiä mäntyjen kanssa.
Den här ekspositionen dokumenterar mina försök att fundera med furor.
Annette Arlander -
Pondering with Pines - Miettii Mäntyjen Kanssa - Funderar med Furor -
Hello Pine and good Epiphany. I didn't realise that your home here on top of Ullanlinnanmäki or the hill in Kaivopuisto Park is actually a very popular spot for kids with sledges and because today is Epiphany there's plenty of people around. But I thought I'll come and pay you a visit anyway. We have not met before. I've been performing with other pines and talking with them, too, here near you, but so I have to introduce myself. I am living in the neighbourhood, only a few blocks from here and I'm probably not that, I might be of your age, maybe a little bit younger but not a youngster anymore, like you. And I would like to, well let's put it straight away, bluntly, I would like to start a series of conversations with you. I've been talking to trees before and especially with pines, all kinds of pines and I know you're very good listeners, and very patient, and I really admire you. I also know that you can be very different and I think you're probably the tallest pine that I've ever dared approach. I regret, or did first regret that I didn't find a pine I could make contact with more physically by sitting in the lap of the pine. Some pines have branches that are low in a manner that I can climb up and sit in the pine. No I'm sitting on a small rock covered with snow next to you, but I'm under you. I feel somehow within your aura if we can use that word. Before I came to you this morning or actually this afternoon now, I stumbled upon a quotation by a very unlikely person Benjamin Franklin and the point was something like "either write something that is worth reading or do something that is worth writing", writing about I guess, somehow noting. And I wonder if this kind of conversation with a pine really fits any of those categories. Of course talking and recording one's speech is a form of writing but whether somebody would like to read this if I would transcribe it, that's another matter. And of course talking to trees is a kind of doing as well, kind of shifting perspective, kind of attempt at addressing beings that we normally don't address by talking or in any manner. But I'm not sure if it's a doing that is worth writing about, or then it is. I thought I would come to you a few times a month maybe and to have sort of private conversations with you, so not necessarily about, well, more in general, but just what happens here between us and with us and of course with me. I realise there is something rather therapeutic in talking to a pine because you're such a good listener and have such a wise perspective on life, but my aim is not to find ways of therapy or consolation, but more I would like to try to articulate some observations about the world but also about myself or how I feel. And I hope that wouldn't be too self-indulgent because as they often say focusing on one's own experience doesn't have to be narcissistic or self-obsessed, but it can be a tool to understand the world, because other people might have similar feelings, too. Officially they call it auto-ethnography, and I'm not going to engage in any serious business like that; this is just a conversation for fun I hope, or if not for fun then for pleasure. But if there is some use of our conversations that might be in that vein, perhaps. Anyway, I now feel slightly embarrassed because I'm sitting in the middle of all the people here so maybe I should just thank you for listening to me now today, and I hope that you don't mind if I come to you again. And I also hope that you don't mind that I record my speech, which is also recording your presence of course, especially on the video, although I cannot catch more than the very middle part of your trunk, so everything higher up in your crown, which is tall and beautiful, is excluded from the image and of course everything below ground. But there is a part of you that will be recording together with me and perhaps also the sounds; now they're not audible because there's so much other noises, lovely noises in some sense but, yeah. So thank you for this and hope to see you soon again, yeah. Take care.
Hello pine, nice to see you again. It's been a long time, almost three weeks or maybe more than three weeks. Now it's Sunday afternoon and quite late because the sun will set in half an hour or so. There's not much traffic except there helicopter sound, but it's quite windy so let's see how this will work. Well, at least the helicopter will pass, yeah. So hello again, really. I thought I would come to see you and talk with you about freedom. That's a strange notion and somehow means very different things for different people and in different parts of the world, but I've encountered the notion now in several contexts. On the one hand in Stockholm, where they really try to protect the freedom of expression but that has led to weird incidents with protest actions sort of not really only like motivated protest actions but provocations that hurt very many people, like burning the holy book of the muslims and so on. But there has all also been talk of, and yes, and also the debate then endangering the safety of the whole nation because preventing, by preventing the NATO negotiations to be further developed. And on the other hand other people claiming that freedom of expression is the basis for democracy and if you start to make exceptions to that you will be on the way to totalitarianism. But there has been another debates on freedom of expression recently here in Helsinki. There was a note, somebody, an editor-in-chief of a smaller paper in the centre of Finland was sentenced with some sort of fine because he had written about individual persons in a mocking way, in an inappropriate way that could be considered insulting. And then - now, what is happening here with this helicopter, some problems, I hope not. Well, anyway concerning the inappropriate mockery by the editor-in-chief of that paper an other editor-in-chief wrote that there is a difference between sort of inappropriate or stupid behaviour and illegal behaviour and the freedom of the press should go before everything else. Well, this idea of freedom of the press I was reminded of in Tallinn as well, where I visited for a few days to take part in a very interesting winter school at the Tallinn University and even had a talk there about artistic research. And sort of in passing I compared the so-called freedom of the arts with the freedom of the press and somebody present there in the audience found that juxtaposition very interesting and fascinating and so on. I thought it was somehow self evident, but maybe not. Of course the freedom of the arts is is often much criticised but it is necessary in the same way as freedom of research and of course it doesn't allow us artists to break the law nor does it prevent us from doing stupid things. And of course all artists laugh at the idea of freedom because what is freedom if you don't have the resources and so on. Now some people passing by here... But anyway, if we think of freedom we have to think of the different meanings, do you mean freedom to do something or do you mean freedom from something. And that is actually one of the things that I thought I would like to ask you about or talk with you about, because freedom to move is one of the basic freedoms we value very much as human beings, I think everywhere. Sometimes freedom is considered a purely western concept but all human beings probably like to be able to move around freely. And that is reflected in the punishment for crimes, where the major punishment tend to be to put people in jail or in house arrest or something like that or prevent them from moving freely. And of course all the national borders are doing that, too, preventing people to move freely but to be stationary in the same way as you, dear pine, that is very strange for us humans to understand. And still you seem to be very very free here in your own manner, although you cannot move away if there is a storm but you have to take the storm when it comes. Or maybe not, well, you can turn your needles towards sun and so on, but that's different. Yeah, so your freedom is very different from our freedom. It sounds as, you have the freedom not to reply to my request also, another absurdity. This idea of freedom of expression on the one hand and freedom from want or suffering or harassment or something like that on the other hand, is of course relevant, but I was reminded of a book, the writer of which I've forgotten, but a bestseller of sorts, about the different values in different parts on the planet. And there I remember for instance the value of harmony, which was considered by the writer as the main value in China and cultures influenced by China. So, unlike freedom, which is something strange and not important in the same manner, the idea of harmony is important. And of course for a western person or a European person that sounds like a perfect excuse to maintain the status quo, for the Emperor to sort of guarantee the harmony in the country and everybody keeping in their place and in their hierarchical position and so on. But of course there is something beautiful with harmony, especially if we allow for change. So how could change take place in a harmonious way. Because freedom is, it's a problematic thing. Of course it's very difficult to imagine what it means not to have freedom of expression or freedom from want, if I think of myself. But I'm nevertheless reminded of an old rock song, I think it was Janis Joplin or something like that - now I reveal how old I am. She was singing "freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose" and of course that's true as well. Yeah, this idea of freedom of movement, it's important, but of course there is a freedom in being able to stay where you are as well. And that's of course sort of an old-fashioned idea of sort of expanded sense of freedom of the nation coming from the freedom of the farmer to take care of the place, an expanded sense of sort of loving the land you grow on. I don't know, complicated, complicated. But I somehow admire your freedom here, which is so different from mine, but I'm going to use my freedom to move now and leave you here, because night is falling and I'm freezing. But thank you for this moment, thank you for your patience and yeah, thank you. Take care.
Hello pine, there is spring in the air, strangely, although it is middle of February; a chirping bird takes care of that. But it's really windy and not that warm even though it's not as cold as it is normally in February. Normally? What is normal these days of climate crisis. But you look good; maybe the humidity it's nice for you. There's been mist all day yesterday and still some today. It's quite a while since we've met. I came back from Stockholm and Oslo only yesterday, but nice to see you again. I thought I'd talk about growth. That's what you're an expert in, of course, although at your age you're not growing as fast as the younger ones. But why I came to think of that is because I picked up a book at the railway station in Oslo called Mindset written by a Stanford professor Carol Dweck or something like that. It's quite a famous concept, I've encountered it before, this idea of that you can have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset and it changes a lot the way you learn or how you relate to life experiences in general. And the idea is somehow that if you have a fixed mindset you think that intelligence and talent and all kind of qualities are innate and can't be changed that much. Whereas if you have a growth mindset then you focus on change and the possibility to grow. And that is of course helpful for instance when encountering setbacks, because the setbacks provide then an opportunity to learn, while if you have a fixed mindset the setbacks provide evidence that you're not any good, and so on. But of course the question of growth, we're used to think that it's something positive, but more and more with the sort of, with the explosion of human activities to destroy everything else except humans on the planet, has, as the result of a belief in constant an exponential growth, especially economic growth, has lead into disastrous things. So growth, people speak of de-growth and there is like, growth is not automatically something positive. But especially when getting older, like me, it's so very obvious that we stop growing, we start declining in many cases. For instance, I'm 3 cm shorter than I used to be when I was younger simply because my bones are sort of shrinking or. But nevertheless, I was curious to know about your relationship to growth, because you of course keep on growing, slowly but you grow. But then you shed also dead parts, like the needles sometimes when they get dry, or this branch which is lying by my feet, which probably has been broken by the wind or then by a human, I don't know. Growth is also something that we have in common. For instance philosopher Michael Marder speaks of humans has growing beings and the whole idea of sort of emphasising similarities rather than emphasising the complete otherness of humans and trees or plants in general. I think that makes a lot of sense, so yes, we are growing beings in many ways and have that in common. But, yeah and I guess of course you have, probably you have a growth mindset in some sense because if you encounter a setback and a branch is broken you're not sort of going inside your structure and somehow pondering on "oh God I'm not so clever after all, how can I have had this mishap", but you you react to it as, well this happened, what can we do about it now, and that's of course a healthy way of thinking. But could we somehow, what do you think, could we maintain an idea of growth in the sense of development or change without this crazy demand of constant expansion in the sense of growing too much. I don't know. What else could I tell you about? That was the only thing I thought I'd like to talk with you, but but now I realise it's cold and I don't have anything else on my mind at the moment really. Probably I have, I'm returning to my routines after travelling and I also enjoyed very much the seminar I participated in near Oslo for doctoral candidates of artistic research in Norway, and all the discussions we had. But maybe it's no point in me telling you about those discussions but I wish you a nice end of February here in Kaivopuisto park and I will come to see you in a week or maybe ten days again, now when I'm here. So thanks for your patience in listening to me and and take care.
Hello pine, nice to see you again. And nice Kalevala day. I wondered why they were flagging, a lot of flags on the street and I looked it up and it's the Kalevala day. It's the last day of February and clearly the snow is wet. There is a lot of pinecone peels or like parts of pinecones lying around you and I wouldn't have noticed it but when I was placing my camera tripod there was a squirrel sitting on this rock where I'm sitting right now enjoying a meal, I guess. And now there is another one up there, oh, eating snow, lovely, of course. Probably it's not visible in the image and of course not audible but there it is, drinking water that is eating snow. Well, nice to have some colleagues around, but anyway what I was planning to talk about and I hope the wind will keep calm as it is now, relatively, so I thought about to speak about performance and the meanings of the word performance in English, which are so impossible to translate into Finnish or Swedish. Or not impossible to translate but difficult to find the right words for, in the same way. Of course that's true for all words in human languages that they have like different meanings and combinations of meanings, which means - I remember when I studied there was talk of connotations and denotations - so the main meaning and then other secondary meanings that create a universe around the word, which associates to very different things depending on the language so.. But anyway, why would we talk about performance is of course that in a sense we are now performing together. And we are performing together for the video camera on tripod but we're also performing together for this microphone in the phone I'm having in my hand. Of course this will record more of my sounds and less of your sounds, but anyway we are performing together in some sense. And that is relatively easy to understand as a performance also in the Finnish sense of the word 'esitys', which is like a presentation, also a representation, but a presentation, a show, a display. It also can mean a proposal, which is very interesting, and which a performance is not in the same way. But the other meaning of performance, this act or this action or like doing something is not so clear in Finnish, because it's more like yeah, representation. But anyway we are creating a representation in sound and visually, together sure, but we're also doing something together here. Of course we could ask what this together means and is it so that I'm the one performing and you are the one serving as the backdrop or is it actually that you are the one performing and I am the audience here, although I'm speaking and trying to interprete your performance but you are the one really doing the job. And if we understand performance as the performance of the world, the way the world is busy in evolving and living, then you are the main performer, that's obvious. And also of course in terms of size and importance in many ways. This idea of us performing together, I've been writing about that as an ethical challenge also, because normally if you would be a human being I would ask for your consent and ask if it's alright if I take an image of you and if you want to perform together with me. And now, as many colleagues have pointed out to me, there is no real way that you can say No. So, I'm not sensitive enough to feel if you say like 'go away'. But this idea of performance as something that takes place like a showing doing as Richard Schechner would say, something that takes place for an audience or at least something with a beginning and an end, is of course different from this idea of performance as an ongoing process, as a performativity of things and life forms in the world, as Karen Barad would say. So according to her if I paraphrase her, we are both taking part in the performance of the world. But, so as I've said elsewhere, in one sense the performance for the microphone and the performance for the camera is like one slice of a performance of the general performance that takes place ongoing between us and also continuing while we're not here together, in this specific performance or slice of time. Yeah, in some sense this idea, I've also used the word appear to somehow distinguish the Finnish two meanings of perform, because there is the performance 'esittää', which is like perform as somebody else, so represent something else and 'esiintyä', which is like performing in the sense of being on display. And of course it's easier for us to understand that we are here on display in the park for the passers-by, for the squirrel, who by the way now has disappeared when I didn't look at it. I didn't notice when it disappeared, it might have been, oh well, I think it's up there, high up. I didn't see it come down anyway. Well, the squirrel is also performing unwillingly probably, or not conscious of performing for me but we are appearing in the sense of 'esiintyä' being on display, but also occurring. We are taking place in a way. But performing in the sense of performing an action, in Finnish 'suorittaa' which you can when you have a sports clothing shop called Peak Performance it's not only the show, although it's both probably, it's also the show, but it's the accomplishment the performance, the doing, the hitting the target, the 'perform or else' -demand that John McKenzie has written about 20 years ago and more. Well, and of course you are, you have the same situation albeit not for cultural reasons but for the reasons of living, perform or else. Perform your photosynthesis or else be hungry, get the nourishment and humidity and the different chemicals you need from the soil with your roots or else starve. Keep your balance in the wind or else topple over and so on, these are all performances but not necessarily in the Finnish sense of the word. Yeah, so this whole problem of performance is not helped if we turn to other languages. I was trying to add a text into a short introduction to a book about how to do things with performance and about how you say that in Swedish, and it's no easier because the idea of a performance in terms of a show like a theatre performance or a dance performance even a musical performance would be 'föreställning', which comes from the German 'Vorstellung' which is like presentation and representation and even a fantasy in some cases, not so much a doing, but this idea of showing something for somebody else. Well, why is this important? I wonder, it was just this idea of somehow yeah accomplishment and performance in the sense of doing something. Perhaps what we are doing here together, besides appearing together in the image space and in the recording and in the city space in the park, we are also occurring together temporarily, we're also somehow. Yeah why, how could I explain that; what are we doing together? We are - yeah performing, existing, trying to communicate also. I'm trying to communicate; you're maybe not trying to communicate with me, you just simply communicate by your being. That's one thing I suddenly remembered, this idea by Luce Irigaray that you are actually saying things by doing things all the time, so if the... your being is your statement. So if the old idea by J.L. Austin - now the wind is strong - if the old idea of J. L. Austin was that some expressions or utterances are performatives, they don't only describe what happens or they're not constatives, they don't state the state of affairs, but they accomplish something, they do something. If I say I promise to come back to you in March, by uttering this promise I actually perform that promise and the classical examples are of course that 'I do' in the marriage ceremony and so on. But if I understood Luce Irigaray correctly, your whole being is sort of, instead of saying things and doing things by saying you do things and by doing things you say them. So your body is your utterance in a way. Of course my body is my utterance, too, and that becomes very obvious when I choose what to wear each day and how I should appear and so on. In a very beautiful sense your body is also the accumulated performance of your life, and of course in some sense that's true for me as well. All the wrinkles and my pain in my joints is the result of the way I'm living my life and in the same way your beautiful shield bark is the result of your life here on the slope. So our appearance is the result of our performances, maybe that's the answer or where we can end this conversation this time. I hope you are doing fine and I hope the squirrel up in your crown is doing fine, too. And I wish you all the best for the coming weeks and see you in March. So take care.
Hello pine. Nice to see you again and greetings from Stockholm. It's more quiet in the park now, although right now there is somebody walking past. It's Friday and no longer sunny; the morning was sunny. The streets in Helsinki are mostly dry already; the snow has melted to a large extent, but here in the park it's full of snow, that has partly melted and then frozen so it's like, everything is covered with ice and super slippery. But here around you the ground is free of snow and ice, so everything should be fine. You look like before, I must say, nothing special; no squirrel this time. There are some birds, crows, but there was a small bird I didn't recognise, but it was singing very very very intensely and made it feel like spring really. I thought about, when I thought what to talk with you about I thought I'd pick up the thread from an old text that was now finally published. It was published as part of a Finnish theatre research publication, so maybe not the right context for it, and therefore I also had to frame the text a little bit for that theme, which was the audience. So the text was originally written for a plant performance publication, where it didn't then fit in, and it was then, I sent it to several other journals or issues, three actually. So this was the fourth time it was peer-reviewed and I re-wrote the text of course a little bit based on all comments. But now it was called - why I'm talking to you about this text because first of all it was based on a letter written to a pine on Örö in November 2020, that is well, more than two years ago, no three years ago, well two and a half - and the title of that text then in the final version was Writing with a Pine Tree: Addressing a Tree as Audience, and that was the theme of the theatre research publication of course. But originally I didn't think of the pine as audience, but as the addressee. So this idea of a speaking for somebody or speaking to somebody or speaking as somebody or even speaking nearby somebody as Trinh T. Minh-ha mentions in an interview with Nancy Chen. And many many years ago I've been speaking as trees in a series of small audio plays called Trees Talk, but that was of course very unsatisfactory, because that meant using you or your colleagues like puppets of sorts, making them speak what I wanted them to speak in a fictional manner. And then of course speaking for which is the normal thing in terms of nature lovers and tree lovers; there is an organisation in the UK called Trees for Cities, so in the same way we could say People for Trees. Well, there was some project called Artists for Plants. But speaking for others is difficult and problematic and... a text by Linda Alcoff that I got from a colleague in Stockholm many years ago is very good at discussing the problem of speaking for others. Because on the other hand it's not possible really to, or it's very difficult to speak for others in an ethically reasonable way, but it's also not possible not to speak for others in a way, because whatever we do, if we're not speaking for others, we are nevertheless by speaking about something directing the attention of the audience, the listeners, the viewers, and also by not speaking we provide an example of how to live and be and so on, so there is no, there's no way of keeping silent or being innocent because also our silence speaks. Well, so that's one of the reasons why I wanted to experiment with this speaking to. And I began, by not speaking to, as I'm doing now, but I began by writing. And that was actually a coincidence, because I felt the urge to write to an old olive tree in Ulldecona in Catalonia at Christmas time in 2019, and I just instead of sitting next to the tree, I just started to make notes and addressing the tree in writing, but with no aim to disclose those words to anybody else; they were meant for the tree and I was simply performing the action of writing for the camera. But then I started to explore the possibility of also using the text then in the video, to record it, speak it read it and record it and add it as a voiceover or even as subtitles and so on. And of course, then the next step, or there were many steps in between, like which language to use; I began in English because I didn't know Catalonian, but then I've been writing in Finnish and in Swedish of course. The first moment I spoke to a pine tree or to any tree was in Örö, on the western shore of Örö in; I think not in November 2020, when I visited the island for the first time, but sometime in January February 2021 when I went there, not to the residency but on my own accord. And I remember using a microphone first instead of my phone, but sort of experimenting with this idea that would it be more spontaneous more like a performance, more like a real conversation to speak rather than to write. And then I learnt how to synchronise the speech and to use my phone instead of an external microphone and so on. So now I'm mostly actually talking with trees, also other trees than you. But I'm not sure if that is so much more spontaneous or direct as a contact, because one of my initial thoughts about writing, was exactly this idea that by articulating my thoughts more carefully, you might be able to discern them, not as words, but as my intentions. And the risk of sort of talking, instead of writing, is, of course that I'm babbling away in a way trivialities; it is more casual in many ways. But of course you can hear the sound or experience the sound waves so that's at least something. But I have to admit that of course when I talk to you, this is more about me than about you, of course, unfortunately and I don't pretend it to be anything else. So in order for really to let you perform or give you the main role or give you the space on central stage I should try to experiment with some technology, although I'm so sceptical and sort of critical about the use of technology to... For instance you can have these sensors that react to the electricity or the electric signals that move through plants in the same way as they move through humans, and then transposing that electricity, those electric signals to some kind of music or sound. Or I saw once a sculpture where a sort of Hedera plant had been tied to all kind of strings that were moved by a motor so it seemed like the plant was dancing, but I thought it looked more like torture. So this idea of sort of using technology to somehow make you, force you to speak in some sort of signals for us to understand is, it's ethically problematic in some sense. But maybe I'd like to try, if there are some ways of sort of, I hope to meet some scientists who could teach me how I could read the signs that you emit sort of naturally, or if there are ways of measuring some sort of processes in a way that I could understand you better. But that's for the future; maybe already next autumn if all goes well or then next year. Anyway, until then I'll keep on talking with you every now and then, so I'll come back in a few weeks, I guess, before I go back to Stockholm in April. So have a nice weekend here in the park, where probably there will be much more people around soon. Take care.
Hello pine, you're looking good today. It's the last day of March and it's supposed to be spring but there is a lot of snow. There was a real, a few days of snowstorm not so long ago, and now it will take time before all this melts even though the sun is doing its best, and the days are longer and longer and light and beautiful. And I guess you like that; I like it too, even though I can't transform that energy of the sun directly into food as you can, but yeah. I was listening to a real podcast yesterday, by accident or not by accident but I happened to listen to an episode in the podcast Networking with Plants in the Anthropocene, that's what it's called, I guess. And there, Paul Moss was the guest and he is the director of the Plant Initiative, which I've signed up for so I get their newsletter or something like that. And it was quite an interesting talk or he was, he really knew what he was talking about when propagating increased respect for plants. And I also realised that before I go into the topics that we discussed, that our conversations are really quite absurd from the perspective of a sort of normal podcast, because if I would be, like I am the host, then usually the guests are always new ones. But you, I come to you every time so you are always the same guest. And on the other hand, the guest is the one providing the content and doing most of the talking and the host is simply interviewing the guest. Of course, my idea was that I would do that with you, that you you would be sort of the main person here, but because you're so silent and I'm so impatient, the result is that I keep talking. So this is a very absurd podcast in that sense. But maybe in the future there will be possibilities for us to translate pine language or yeah, something like that. If there is artificial intelligence translating between human languages and making text to speech and speech to text and so on, why not translate pines to... Although of course they've done that quite a lot, with a lot of plants and also pine trees. I remember many years ago there was an exposition bye Marcus Maeder or however you pronounce his name, who translated the vital data of humidity of a pine, if I remember correctly, into some sort of music or sound to make explicit how the pine tree was suffering from drought. And of course, there is the Harvard University witness tree. I'd love to make one like that in Finland, too, with some biologists, who could explain which kind of signs I should look at to know how you feel. But right now, even though I might be totally mistaken, I think you look good. And perhaps that's partly because I expect you to be somehow happy when the light returns. Otherwise, thinking of the topics they discussed in the podcast or the topics that Paul Moss brought up, one of them was exactly this relationship with on the one hand, gardening practices, and on the other hand enjoying plants as they are where they are. And of course in some sense gardening is the ultimate 'performing with plants', because it's really collaborating with plants in the best case. In the worst case, it's horrible slavery, and extraction of course. But this idea of visiting a plant where it has chosen to grow, that I could very much relate to, because that's what I've been doing. Although I feel like it would be great to be able to do some gardening, because that's a way of learning about plants. He also spoke about - because he had a background in agricultural studies somehow - he also spoke of the necessary changes that we should implement in the different types of agribusiness that's going on. And those changes, he made a distinction between two kind of changes of increasing respect for plants. So on the one hand, there are many types of changes that could be made that would be good for the plants and be good for the people and good for the soil, and for the whole ecosystem and for sustainability and so on, so it would be a mutually win-win situation with less pesticides, less fertilisers and less monocultures and so on. But on the other hand, he also recognised that there are changes that need to be made that are not only beneficial for humans. I mean, curbing overconsumption is certainly good for, in western societies, but there are societies that are still malnourished and so on. And people don't like to let go of the profits they're making of course. But he also mentioned the importance of learning from indigenous cultures and their much more horizontal relationship to plants, and animals and rocks and rivers, and all kinds of elements of nature are family in a different way, and not our western hierarchy with humans at the top, below the angels maybe, and then rocks at the bottom and plants very close to them. So the closer you are to the human faculties the higher up in the hierarchy you come, which is, of course, a total mistake, because you can have all kinds of specific talents. I'm just thinking of your capacity of photosynthesis or growing as tall as you grow and standing here in snow storms. Standing here, by the way; this idea of agribusiness on one hand or agriculture or gardening, and on the other hand growing in the wild or even if not in the wild then where you please. And of course parks are a strange mixture, because you're not here on a plantation and you can expect to be here in peace and not be harvested. I mean, in the forestry plantations where your relatives grow in rows, more or less, you would already have been harvested many many years ago. So there, the pine trees are not allowed to live to their old age, but are actually harvested, sometimes before middle age. But, then on the other hand you are very strictly somehow in some sense restricted from communication. Of course, I remember seeing a squirrel here and there are birds and insects and probably your roots can find contact with mycorrhiza and fungi and maybe contact with relatives, other pines. There are a few, but they're quite far away. So in some sense you are rather isolated, nevertheless. Not in the sense of flowers in pots or like animals in zoos, no, but you're somehow not in a naturally evolving ecosystem. But I don't know actually, if you prefer this, because of course you have sort of, you can grow here in peace and not be bothered with much competition for light for instance and so on, so perhaps it's nice. Perhaps it would be great if parks would be places for pleasure for you too, and not only for humans. I always think that they're designed for human pleasure, but if they would be like, how should I say, pleasure gardens for trees as well, that would be great. And at least you're not cut into forms here; this is not a formal garden. I actually wonder if you are planted here. I guess it might be that you've grown here on your own and then the people maintaining the park have decided that alright there is this beautiful young pine and let it grow there and then you're here. I don't know. What else should I take up? Well, Paul Moss also spoke about weeds and that's of course are rather popular theme. This idea of weeds as discuss providing examples of resistance against the human need for control. Last week I was participating in a beautiful little symposium in Würzburg, in the botanical garden of Würzburg in southern Germany, organised by by University of Würzburg and it was called Approaching Plants. And it was like a multidisciplinary encounter with artists and ethnographers and many types of people interested in plants. And there are I met a colleague from Finland, Kalle Ham, who, I've met him before, who is working very much with plants and especially weeds. He has his Band of Weeds, which is a weed orchestra, where he uses the electric signals from plants as material for creating electronic or well some kind of synthetic sound, music, which is quite interesting. But he also spoke about preferring to record material from plants that grow in the wild instead of causing unnecessary suffering by transporting them to a stage as they did first, and so on. Well, if we think of sort of respect and ethical guidelines for working with plants of course it's the minimum not to cause unnecessary suffering. I'm very much aware that we depend on you, and you're kin for our food and and for paper and for houses and furniture and many many many things. But unnecessary suffering. Of course if we think of some sort of respectful relationships that's somehow the minimum and the ideal would be some kind of reciprocity. And that's where I have a long way to go. But that I've been, that we've been talking about before, and I haven't solved the problem yet, so I just have to say thank you thank you. Thank you for listening to me again and have a really nice beginning of April here in the sun. So see you soon again, take care.
Hello pine, hello. Nice to see you again. I'm struggling because it's really windy and I try to speak to my phone so that I protect it from the wind. And I had to add a rock to my camera bag, which is hanging as a weight from the camera tripod to prevent it from toppling over. In these two weeks that have passed since we last met your world has changed completely. There is not a trace of snow anywhere near you and well, the spring is here, although it's cold. The wind is really cold. I'm going next week to Norway to Trondheim to a conference and I thought I'd like to talk with you about the theme, because the theme or topic related to the theme, because the theme is 'too late or too early' and I have proposed to talk about, briefly, about the work we've been doing and whether it's too late to start talking with trees. And now when I sit here I realise yes in many many ways it is too late, we should have been talking with you much earlier. And people probably did and are doing in other parts of the world, but in our society we don't do that. We treat you badly and treat you as a resource and cut you down and then the world changes. And that's the real thing I thought about, was this idea of the tipping point. So I searched online and came to a book by Malcolm Gladwell, a Canadian, who wrote the book in the year 2000 and something like that, about tipping points. And his idea of the tipping point - I have just only begun reading book - is not really how I associate tipping points today, because when I hear the word tipping point, I'm thinking of climate change and the dangerous tipping points that would sort of put the system out of balance to such an extent, in a sudden change, like a boiling point, that the change is irreversible. So the system can no longer balance itself, but it will get into a chaotic mode before it finds a new balance in a completely different, yeah, different type of balance. But yes, as I understand it, Gladwell's book is not about that, but it's about how ideas spread or how viruses spread or how fashions spread and so on and some of the rules for human behaviour. In some sense, I was reminded of the chaos theory idea from the 80s that a butterfly flap somewhere in the world could cause a storm in another part of the world. Although it's not the same, of course, but this idea that, well, a little bit like the boiling point. So water simmers and simmers and simmers and then suddenly it starts to boil. Or a fashion, or a virus. We've just experienced a pandemic, which has not gone away but it's no longer spreading in the same manner. So what, how much does it take before something that is slowly, slowly, slowly developing suddenly spreads like a wildfire. And of course, in a positive sense you can speak of critical mass, or like artistic breakthrough. I'm still looking forward to it, I mean Louise Bourgeois she had her artistic breakthrough when she was 80. So you work and work and work and you accumulate stuff and then at some point there is a breakthrough. But that is somehow a positive thing, while the tipping points we speak of today and that are so worrisome, like the melting of the glaciers or a warming climate changing the ocean currents and by that the whole wind system, and of course the forest. How much do forests have to be cut down before or can they be cut down before they sort stop being a carbon sink and turn in to carbon sources. This is something that we have been discussing a lot here in Finland because there has been so heavy, heavy forestry activity with new factories of cellulose. And a lot of climate activists are really worried because a lot of the old- growth forest is cut down. But of course also just the area, the amount of forest, when it changes. Of course, not all change is necessarily bad and some of the feared tipping points have been, are not maybe as bad as thought, like the melting of the permafrost. I've been reading texts and say that it's not necessarily going to happen in such a catastrophic manner as was forecast at some point. But anyway, the danger of very abrupt, sudden changes is clear. So in a way we are getting used to this idea of things just slowly, slowly, slowly developing, but then suddenly, like an iceberg falls down from a glacier or things happen. So in a sense you, when I sit here with you, you feel like the epitome of stability, and unlike the spruce trees that sometimes really do topple over in storms, you have roots that go sort of straight down, deep, deep, deep - in Finnish we call them like pole roots - so you're quite stabile. Although, when there are storms and a lot of snow there are branches broken, and so on, but you're not really toppling over in that sense. But I guess you, too, would have your tipping point; how dry can it be before you give up. I thought about that because I've been away two weeks and I have a lot of house plants; and one old beautiful plant, which I got from a friend, I don't know its name, and which usually is blooming with a massive amount of pink flowers, it didn't look so well two weeks ago. And I thought, if it had too little water, because when the sun starts burning in the spring, if it was dry or if it had too much or too little water. But I gave it a little bit of water and a little bit of fertiliser before I left. And now when I came back it was really not feeling well, I mean with a lot of dry leaves and it really was not happy. And I felt that the soil, even on top of it felt somehow slightly humid. So I think I just have over watered it. And now I'm really curious to see if it somehow has reached a tipping point, where the roots are rotten and it can't survive and I can't do much anymore, or if the sun and letting it dry would help it to overcome the maltreatment that; I have given it a maltreatment with my best intentions. And somehow that's symptomatic because if the roots are rotten, really badly, then that's beyond cure in a way, a tipping point of some sort. Well, of course in the Gladwell book one thing I saw in the summary was this idea of, because it's more like sociological, it's about human behaviour rather than climate change or pine behaviour, was this idea of economists' rule of 20 - 80, which is an example of one of the laws that influence the tipping point. A lot of, there is the estimate that 80 percent of the work done for something is often done by 20 percent of the participants. And I sometimes feel that it's like 90 percent of the work is done by 10 percent and I have to admit it that I am not very often one of the ten percent, but rather like today, when I'm here with you, my colleagues on Harakka Island are preparing for an afternoon meeting, where we are going to plan an exhibition next fall and they're cooking lentil soup and making bread and preparing for the rest of us who will go there in the afternoon. And here I am sitting and talking with you and not contributing to that event. So how should I say, because today, so many people are aware of the necessary moves needed for climate change, even like businessmen are more aware of that than sometimes the politicians. So in one way, we have to fear for the tipping point of the Earth system collapsing or not collapsing, but changing so radically that it's not possible for humans to live in large areas of the Earth. On the one hand that's something to fear. But we have also to hope for the tipping points of somehow human consciousness and human activity and 20 - 80 rule, so maybe our task as artists is to try to be part of the 20 percent doing the 80 percent work for somehow changing the mentality. But of course, this is very optimistic, because I realise that me talking to you here is not doing very much good to you, it's not doing very much good to the climate, it's not necessary doing very much to the public opinion, because not so many people will listen to this. The only things it's actually doing good to really at the moment is me, because I'm so grateful that you're listening to me so I can voice these concerns. But, now the wind is so cold so it's not doing good even to me, so I have to stop. And I'll be back with you in a few weeks again. So take care and enjoy the spring, thank you.
Hello pine, good evening. It's already 6 o'clock but this time of year the sun is still high in the sky although mainly behind the clouds at the moment. I came to you today because tomorrow is the last of April and on Monday is the 1st of May, which is a huge carnival in Finland. And already tomorrow there will be people partying here, but all of Monday there will be people having a picnic, eating a lot, drinking a lot and listening to music. There's already now plenty of huge rubbish containers placed out in the park. Well, since we last met, I've been to Trondheim as I told you then. I was preparing for that visit and it was a nice experience and great conference. But what is foremost in my mind today, besides the upcoming carnival, is the event I had the honour of participating in yesterday, which was a doctoral dissertation. Katri Lassila, a photographer and cinematographer and I was nominated to be the opponent. I had been the pre-examiner of her work too, but it was quite an interesting experience and also rewarding, because he was so calm and knew what you was doing. But I thought that it might be interesting for you, some of her ideas, because she wrote about landscape. Not landscape in general so much, but landscape in film and especially sort of the still image or photography like landscape image that is sometimes inserted into the film narrative and become like moments that she claims were outside of time. And she coined the term apochrony for that phenomenon. I'm not sure about this idea of outside of time, but the mixture of different layers of time, or like historical times and future times and the time now and the time of the recording of the image. And of course, we could also think of deep time like the notion that's been talked about quite a lot in the context of the Anthropocene. Why I thought about you, or that this somehow has relevance for you or I associated it with you, because you somehow represent, if not the time necessarily, because deep time is about thousands and thousands and thousands of years, but nevertheless a different time from my own time or understanding of time. And yeah, I would, I'm not claiming that you would be outside of time in anyway, of course not, but because your time seems to be so different from mine, because I cannot see time in you in the same way, as I can see them in animals, and although you grow and move a lot, you do it in a silent and slow manner, which is not perceptible for me in an easy way. And of course, it's fascinating to think whether you somehow experience the landscape. When I think of you, I'm not thinking of landscape, I think of your environment, but what is it that makes an environmental landscape, is it only the human vision and the framing of the image, either through photographic means, or through the painting frame or whatever. I don't know, I was also reminded by people who gave me feedback when I presented a snippet of our conversation in Trondheim, that I might be sort of anthropomorphising you unnecessarily. And that it might be more valuable to try to find ways to listen to you. And that's of course a challenge. Now when I'm listening to you I can only hear, or mainly hear people talking behind me, and then the steps of the human couples walking back and forth on the path, some birds yeah, seagulls there, and crows, ducks, distant traffic. But as I've told you before, I cannot hear you, but I do see you, see parts of you, especially your bark, which is a shield bark to a large extent and consists of big slices of bark. And on the ground around you there are plenty of pinecones that have fallen down, perhaps because it's been dry or. Well, it's not that warm yet, and the sun hasn't been so strong so, maybe they're just, Some of them seem to have opened, also the ones that are on your branches. Here when I sit on the rock next to you, I can also see the sun behind the clouds, the cloud cover is like uniform and grey, but the sun is sort of partly shining through. Well, what else could I say? I could, of course talk about other aspects of the work that I was examining yesterday, like the idea of affordances that she examined and used more like to distinguish what kind of affordances photography can give for an artist, and what kind of affordances cinematography provides. But of course the idea of affordances originally comes from Gibson, and the relationship between animals and their environment. And in that sense, of course, pine trees have a similar way of having a complementary relationship with the affordances of their environment, I suppose. Or, somehow this hill or slope where you grow provides you with certain benefits, like plenty of light, because you don't have to negotiate with any neighbours, you have full access to sunlight. But on the other hand, you're rather vulnerable to wind, because you're here up on the slope, not on the very top, but quite high so the wind might hit you harder than if you would grow somewhere else in the park. And of course, the basic fact that you grow here rather high up in the north means that you have very very cold conditions for many many months, and there is the increased risk of accidents, because of heavy snow, for instance, weighing down your branches and so on. And then there are probably lots of affordances that I don't know anything of in the soil, in the ground. So I don't know how the rocks are formed under you, and if there are like difficulties for your roots to find paths around big rocks or if on the contrary there is like big rocks that provide stability. And now there's a small bird coming here checking for something nice to eat under you. And now sitting up on your branch. I don't recognise what type of bird it is, it's rather grey, but pretty, a small one and not making any sounds. The evening is getting more chilly so maybe I leave you here and I really wish that you're not being hurt during the carnival or that you don't feel too disturbed by all the noise. Maybe it's actually interesting for you in some sense, so yeah, enjoy the party as much as you can. And thanks for today. See you again in a few weeks. Take care.
Hello pine, it's me, the talking human again. It's windy today and I decided to try to place my camera further up on the slope to finally get the full picture of you, so it's really far away. I wonder where I could protect the microphone so I could talk with you properly. Maybe it's better I sit down. So, it's been a while. I was, I thought I'd talk with you about a small text I just read by somebody called Damiano Benvegnù or... I don't know how to pronounce it, but a scholar, geographer perhaps, who had visited a specific pine forest near Rome, which is a famous or infamous for being planted by the fascists to commemorate or to celebrate Il Duce, that is Mussolini, and the pines are planted into a forest to form the letters DUX so that they can be seen all the way to Rome. And mostly they are shown in aerial photographs. I didn't look it up on Google, but I remember I've heard about this at some point. And the pines that are planted that way, they are relatives of yours, they are so-called Austrian black pines, Pinus nigra. And this Damiano, he went to visit the village nearby and his text is about how these matters are actually complicated, because of course a lot of people think that the whole forest should be taken down and it's a horrible thing, whereas the neo-fascists want to keep the forest. And there was a huge fire destroying most of the letter X and they went there and planted new trees to keep the monument intact. But when Damiano, the writer, went up there to the village he he learned that actually what the villagers were most proud of was the system of terraces that were used or that was used when planting the forest, because that's something that is like the tradition of that village and they're very proud of that. And of course, then the neo-fascists who re-planted some trees didn't use that technique because they didn't know how to do it. So the point with this text was mainly that you shouldn't restrict yourself by some sort of distance observing, but you have to go there to visit the place and to enter the forest, enter the communities in order to understand the complexities of phenomena. And that makes sense of course. And it was funny to read that text right after finishing a book that I've sort of had hanging since last autumn, namely the book Finding the Mother Tree by Suzan Simard, which is very famous of course nowadays, and one of the main scholars investigating the so-called wood-wide-web that is the mycelia and fungal networks that connect the trees in a forest and so on. But Finding the Mother Tree is, of course, very much also a biography and her story of her family and her experiences in childhood and her surviving a divorce and surviving of breast cancer and so on. So I wasn't so fascinated about the book, but of course at the end she speaks of the knowledge of indigenous people and for instance how salmon has been fertilising the forests, and incredible like systemic understanding that slowly slowly our science is now learning and that indigenous people have locally gained that knowledge over thousands of years, earlier. And of course now when I sit here with you, when you're here alone on the slope, I'm thinking of the problem of the forest. Because in some sense you are of course a collectivity as you are already, with all the small beings living on you, and in you, but on the other hand, you're very lonely here with quite a distance to the nearest trees, any trees but also pine trees. And also this idea of the Austrian black pine or Pinus nigra. Now I've encountered some other pines like Pinus peuce, which has been planted here or Pinus cembra and also Pinus contorta in Reykjavík. And yes, Pinus mugo, the small pines that are more like shrubs planted in cities. But basically all the pines, all the real pines, so to speak, the wild pines, are Pinus sylvestris. And so I'm more sort of attuned to looking at your differences, because the question what is your pine species it's always the same, but I know that you can grow in so many many different ways if I think of all the pine trees of Örö or if I just look around at the different types of pines here in the park. You're all the same family of the same species at least, but very very different. Well, anyway, I should think about other pine trees and that's one of the reasons why this text about the village near Rome was so inspiring to me, because I'm planning to go to Mazzano, a small village near Rome this summer into a residency there, and there is supposed to be a valley with a very beautiful forest there. And of course I should learn a little bit about pine trees there, and different types of trees in general. So much I looked about the Austrian black pine that, although it's sort of not a local species in the village where it was planted, but was brought there from elsewhere, it's nevertheless local in the Mediterranean area so it's very common for instance in Greece, os that's what I read at least. But I'll have to learn a little bit about the Mediterranean pines which are quite different from you, Scots pines. I always laugh at the thought of you being a scotch pine, but anyway. So what else can I tell you? Spring is proceeding quickly, fast now. It's very windy and it's still cold but many of the birches have small leaves already on the slopes look green. The planted trees here in the park, like the linden trees and the oaks and the larches, they're not, they don't have buds yet, but the birches have and the rowans and the bird cherries; you can even see the small flower buds. So in a few weeks all this will explode into green but right now it's still rather cold. Alright, nice to see you doing fine and enjoy the spring and all the long hours of light. So take care.
Hello pine, nice to see you again. It's been awhile, almost three weeks. Now it's summer; it's quite windy although the wind is abating now in the evening. I came to you this late, yes it's rather late, almost seven o'clock in the evening, although the sun is still high in the sky, exactly because I hoped that the wind would abate. It's nice to see you in bloom with the small pollen cones, yellowish green ones all over. There is a saying in Swedish, the time between bird cherries and lilacs or 'mellan hägg och syren' in Swedish, and that's supposed to be the most beautiful time of the year. It's very short period because first the bird cherries bloom and then lilacs come a little bit afterwards and the time between them or when both of them bloom is rather short. Of course it depends on the area. Here in southern Finland it's early compared to the north of Finland but of course later than in south of Sweden or Europe. But what we have here is the light. And this is now, it's one month still we have longer and longer and longer days. In Helsinki there is no midnight sun, but we have the white nights, too. The midnight sun is further up in the north. Well, I didn't plan to talk to you about blooming or the sun, although I know that light - oh this wind - I know light is important to you, but rather I wanted to talk about a text that I happened to read, which was published in the latest online journal called Artnodes. A text by Devon Ward, I guess his name was, Australian or American scholar and the title of the text was something like Environmental Personhood and Environmental Statehood. And I happened to read it exactly because it was open access, not behind a paywall, so that's a good example how important it is to have open access to texts if you want all kind of people to read them. But why I think it's interesting for our conversation, was because he spoke about the artworks, also in terms of these concepts of personhood. And he created some sort of continuum between works that emphasise the agency of the environment or the agency of various environmental entities or nonhuman things like you, on the one hand, and on the other hand artworks that emphasise the personhood of such entities or things. And I thought that was in a way interesting because of course a lot of contemporary art and bio art and media art really work with the agency of plants, or the agency of trees, or with the agency of various biological phenomena and make them somehow palpable (excuse me) and visible or audible for humans with the help of technology or various processes. Whereas I'm really, by addressing you in this conversation, I'm somehow emphasising your personhood or I like to think that I'm somehow emphasising your subjectivity. Of course people can say that I am anthropomorphising you, and just playing in a theatrical manner with sort of turning you into a fictional character or something like that, but that's not my aim. Well his idea of personhood was personhood not in in terms of individuality or subjectivity or something like that, but in legal terms, because even enterprises and all kind of associations can be legally compared with persons, so they can be legal persons with legal rights. And some artists have worked with this notion together with environmentalists, trying to claim the rights of environmental entities. And the classic example is of course the river in New Zealand that gained a personhood or sort of legal rights comparable with persons in 2017. And he mentions an art project, I think it was called Terra0 or something like that, which tried to create the possibility for a forest to own itself, so... which is a funny idea. Because of course the forest should own itself, but to own you itself in a human sense, so it could have the right to protect its integrity and not be used at will by humans and so on. And then the other example he used was the Embassy of the North Sea, a large project, a Dutch one, which contains several smaller projects and works with more like representational strategies, trying to emphasise the need to have the representation of such entities as the North Sea taken into consideration when making decisions. And that brought him to think of the sort of environmental statehood, because of course, the North Sea is sort of bigger than a person. Or the legal systems that would govern the North Sea are more compatible with sort of the rights of states, rather than rights of persons, although multinational corporations, of course, are also wider than within one state in some sense. So in a way what he wrote about was not at all what we're doing here now in this rather one-sided conversation, but I still thought it was interesting to think of personhood from that perspective. And what would it mean if I would consider you as a legal person? Because I try to show respect to you as like a subject or subjectivity and a person in that sense, but as a legal person, for instance, you should have the right to decide if you want to appear in the video footage together with me or not. And of course, you could have the right to decide how your image could be framed and so on, that's complicated. And of course the idea of using the human idea of legal rights on other entities that we share this planet with is somehow absurd. But I can see the strategy behind it because it's one way to try to claim some sort of untouchability or some sort of rights for other beings. Well, now when I'm explaining this, my fascination with this text to you, I realise it's a quite beside the point actually. Yeah, because here when I encounter you, it's not as a legal entity anyway, and I'm not a legal entity for you either or person. Well, I have to think about this, but thanks for listening to me again and I wish you a nice evening and I hope you will have a nice week and yeah, take care.
Hello Pine, or good evening, actually. The sun is high this time of the year but it is already quarter past six so we could call this evening. It's finally rather warm; it's been sunny but very very cold for the season - after all it's June. So now, finally, there is the feeling of summer. I come here this late tonight because I'm gallery sitting on Harakka Island in the Telegraph gallery there, right, or let's say very near here. You probably would see the island if you would have eyes in your upper branches, or if I could climb up to your crown I could very well see the island from here. Well, I thought I would talk to you a little bit about insects, because an old friend of mine suggested that, when I asked about his ideas related to pines. And one of the things he came up with was this relationship between different species and especially insects. And why? Of course, because when we discuss forestry one of the main arguments for sort of taking care of the forest, meaning, removing all dead trees and well, cutting back old trees in the first place, is exactly to avoid the spreading of pests, like insects that can spread in an epidemic manner. Some type of pine sawflies for instance. Speaking of epidemic manner, here come the geese. Although they're not that many this year as what they usually have been in recent years. But, somebody told me that only ten years ago they were like three couples of geese nesting on Harakka Island and now they're more than one hundred, nearly one hundred and fifty. It sounds incredible, but anyway. That was a side remark, so it's about collaboration between humans and geese and that's one thing, but I thought I'd talk about the collaboration or combat between pine sawflies and pine trees. And the sawflies, I read, they are a huge family or sort of mega-family and they've been around for two hundred million years or more. And they're related to wasps and bees and even ants, but they don't sting in the same manner as wasps but still they cut their way into the pine. And of course, normally the pines can take their attacks quite easily and protect themselves with the resin they exude and so on, but sometimes if, or there are different theories, but if the life conditions are very hard for the pines, they're weakened by the conditions, and if there is like an extreme proliferation of the larvae of the sawfly, then huge areas of forest can be killed by that. And that happened actually in Finland not so long ago. So in terms of like human interests and forestry insects are very much feared and detested. But of course, this balance between finding tools to prevent the insects from attacking, and then the insects adapting and finding tools to utilise and counter-attack. I'm not sure if it was sawflies, but somewhere I read about the clever insects that responded to the increased acidity, or like bitterness or toxicity of the resin exuded by the pine by not sort of eating that resin but storing it in some sort of reservoirs near their mouth and thus so the recycling, using that poison or toxic substances with the bitter taste to prevent birds and other animals from eating them in turn. And I thought that was such a fine or clever idea. So as with most things in natural ecosystems, there is a sort of a balance that's continually evolving that has been developing for thousands and thousands and even millions of years. But when that sort of balance is disrupted then very bad things can happen. Probably the main purpose of insects from your point of view would be that they would eat away the old ones that are no longer thriving and that way creating some sort of selection, but why not also somehow return some of the substances from your needles into, like recycling them, making them into nourishment for other parts of the ecosystem. I don't know enough of that; I should read more. But, although contemporary biologists like Suzanne Simard and many others, stress collaboration in nature, so it's not only the survival of the fittest and the constant combat between species. So although collaboration is sort of the main rule, it's quite obvious when I look at the nesting birds how brutal they can be, both in protecting their young, but also in eating each others' young. You know, the seagulls they seem to be almost cannibalistic, it's horrible. And I came upon a seagull sitting or standing on the road and eating something and I looked, what on earth does it have in its mouth. And it seemed to be a frog, because the hind legs of the frog were sticking out from the mouth of the seagull and then it swallowed he whole thing, a huge frog, actually, scary. Well, to eat and to be eaten. I like you, plants and trees so very much because you make the food for all of us. And this policy that you have, combat, sure, and the Realpolitik, let's come back to that later, but your strategy is more like the idea of abundance. So there is such an abundance of needles, of pinecones of everything that even if half of that is eaten by insects you still have enough. So it's only when more than half is taken away when you start to suffer. And that's somehow beautiful policy or strategy or ideology if we want to speak of that. And very unlike animals and humans to some extent. And that was the other thing I wanted to talk with you about. I read in the main local newspaper Helsingin Sanomat today an essay about Realpolitik, a German term, so reality politics, which is quite a cynical and harsh idea that ideas are worth nothing if facts and the reality check doesn't hold. And it's somehow, I can't remember the theoretician who coined the term but it was in the time of Bismarck, but of course the reason why it's now very much on the table is the war in Europe, and in Ukraine, where sort of the hopes and wishes of a peaceful balance of, well or peaceful developments among the nations of the world have been crashed rather badly. Funny enough he, the writer begins and ends with referencing John Lennon's Give peace a chance or Imagine I can't remember which one. And of course it's true that there are situations where are you have to put aside your nice principles and work based on the real situation, but my personal reaction is that you still have to retain the capacity to imagine an alternative. Because if we can't even imagine a world of peaceful coexistence, then how could that ever become possible. And that's of course relevant now when there is a debate about the future rulers of the nation here in Finland, and especially I read a text about the problems with the Swedish speaking people's party, which is somehow divided in two. Because on the one hand they want to be, although bourgeois, they want to be humanitarian and tolerant and liberal. But now they're negotiating with the very conservative right-wing parties, and of course one part. Then another part of the party is more like an organisation of interest for the people who speak Swedish in this country, which is a minority, and some of those people tend to be very very right-wing and very conservative and so on. So there is a dilemma there, and the Realpolitik reaction seems to be too to adjust to rather harsh negotiations and sort of forget about the beautiful principles that are really important for some of the voters. Well, more of Realpolitik is actually the shootings in Stockholm, which are now escalating in incredible ways. But why would I torture you with all these bad news when summer is here and right now everything is fine. And probably all the geese that are now here with their young eating the grass they also fertilise the ground for you, so slowly slowly all the shit that they excrete will go through the soil and benefit you as well. On Harakka Island the geese have completely transformed the yard, which used to be gravel and is now grass and nettles and whatever simply because they have fertilised it all. Well, have a nice evening and thanks for listening to me again, and enjoy.
Hello Pine, I'm standing next to your trunk today to protect the microphone from the wind, which is quite strong. I came to you already this afternoon because they promised rain for tomorrow. I came from Stockholm this morning and I will continue to Rome on Sunday morning, so tomorrow would've been a perfect day, but I thought I'd take that chance to come here today when the weather is good. And it turned out to be that that there will be a huge party here tomorrow. They're actually building, constructing tents and stages and testing technology and so on in the park today. But the party will take place tomorrow and it's the end of the pride week or something like that, a big party, all day and partly probably the evening as well. So it was a very good, accidentally, to come here today so we can have a chat more peacefully. I thought I'd talk with you about environmental art a little bit. Sounds strange, because although I like to think that this is, what we do together is a kind of environmental art, too, its not what would traditionally be considered environmental art or well, contemporary art in environmental conditions. Why I thought about that is because of two articles in in the major newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, one yesterday and one today, on the one hand about Helsinki Biennale in Vartiosaari, which takes place for the second time this year, and the other one today about an exhibition in the Hyytiälä forest science or research centre out in the forest, quite a bit from Helsinki. A place which I visited once, because many, many years ago one of my students made a work there, some sort of black glass thing hanging there in the forest, which was quite beautiful actually. But I remember that what they wanted to do and that was a big, big project actually, with a lot of negotiations and really, like a documentation of the whole difficulty of the process seemed like the major thing. They wanted to create studio five out in Hyytiälä. Because there were like a studios 1, 2, 3 and 4 at the Theatre Academy, which were black boxes. And they wanted to create a fifth studio out in this forest there, and more like a conceptual piece rather than a place where to work, really. Like I think one idea was to mark out the area of the same amount of square metres and paint the trunks black up to the height of two meters or something like that. But it was more like the gesture, the conceptual gesture of naming an area studio five as an option. But now the work that has been presented there was like art-science collaboration or art in the context of science with quite big names. And that was written rather positively about in comparison with the harsh critique of the Helsinki Biennale. There were two critics who discussed their disappointment, and the difficulty of finding the right balance between magnificent nature, and then works that somehow take that nature into account or are site-oriented or site-sensitive, but not sort of trivial or just some rubbish hanging from tree trunks and so on. And of course they found a few works that they found very interesting, too, but sort of the headlines were so negative so it was rather shocking. It's rare to have so negative critique of art today. But they liked for instance a small artificial cloud above a pond created by Huber and Saarikko or the plastic horizon by Tuula Närhinen, a colleague of mine from Harakka Island, or a small tent-like construction with branches coming into the tent and rainwater changing the colour of some central formation. This is all something I base on the descriptions, for neither of these exhibitions I have seen myself. So it's more my reaction to how you speak about contemporary art and how it is written about. And also their complaint that works that you need to read a lot of in advance in order to understand them or you need to participate in some performance in order to appreciate the remains and so on are problematic. But then again something that they thought were like trivial gestures, hanging some stuff from some trees that they called, it would suit some home-made Kivinokka exhibition. Kivinokka is another area a little bit similar to Harakka Island where there has been exhibitions and so on. And I thought about some of the works made in Hyytiälä, for instance by IC 98, a very famous duo, who, like Terike Haapoja, whose work from the Venice Biennale was also placed out in Hyytiälä, who had made some small inscriptions of syllables or parts of words, from poets, inscribed on dry tree trunks or something similar and you were supposed to find them with the help of a map. Of course that would be very much typical environmental art that would be suitable for Kivinokka or Harakka for that matter, so it's a lot of maybe what you expect from a Biennale in contrast to some sort of exhibition in a forest, I don't know. But that's one of the reasons why I've never really, I've never really placed things out in nature or in the environment, or I find it difficult. Well, now I placed some QR codes where you can find - and plan to do more of them - where you can link to a website showing a video created on that very site, but it's not the same thing as sort of creating works in the environment. Because it feels somehow, or I don't know how, what I could place, what could I bring here to you that would somehow make you more you? So instead I take away from you, these recordings and images. So I consider myself more like a hunter-gatherer. I'm picking berries or representations and then try to make jam out of them or maybe a pastry or then just serve them with a little bit of sugar. Ah, I wish my videos and podcasts would be as nourishing as some berries can be. But to think of it in a positive way, on Helsinki day the 12th of June when Harakka Island and many other places were open for the public and the ferry was free and there were lots and lots of people in the exhibition, there were some interesting comments as feedback that I had. And something was from a guy, I remember who was very touched after listening for quite awhile, at listening to the conversations I had with a pine not far from here the year before, a smaller pine than you. Probably he happened to listen to some section that he found was touching because he said he was very moved, and why I remember it is, he said that it worked very well that the pine functioned as an intermediary between me and him as a listener. That was a new thought. I don't think you are, I don't consider you an intermediary, although of course, because I record this and make it into a podcast and video, then the person who listens to this is also a 'you'. So in some sense I could think of speaking to the listener as you, but that is somehow confusing for me, so I prefer to speak to you, dear pine, and then if the listener places himself or herself in your position or takes you as an intermediary, that's fine. I think it's an interesting thought, because I sometimes worry that these are more like monologues. I'm talking to myself rather than to you, but this idea that I'm not only talking to you, but I'm also talking to the listener that's actually quite a nice idea. Well, maybe that's enough for today. And I hope you have a nice nice evening and also a nice party tomorrow, so enjoy the pride party and take care.
Hello Pine, what a special situation actually. I have been away so I haven't seen what's happening in the park. They are playing a musical "Mamma Mia" here, obviously in the evenings, not right now, in a few hours. And they have fenced a large area of the park, so when I came from the other direction, I first thought that I couldn't reach you at all and planned to try to somehow speak to you from a distance or something like that. But now when I came from around the whole park, from the other side, to my great delight I saw that the fence is going right next to you on the other side of the paths and you're on this free side of the fence, which is lovely. Alright, and there might be some sound check going on, there was some a few minutes ago, but that's not a problem; probably the wind is more of a problem but let's not worry about that. It's really great to see you. It's many weeks, a few weeks since I was here. I've been away in Italy in Mazzano Romano, a small village or old town actually a medieval old town, or it has a medieval part, about 40 km north-east from Rome. And right now there has been a huge or there is a huge heatwave in the south of Europe. People are panicking because in some places there are like, the temperature can be up to 45°C which is a lot. I didn't experience that, the hottest day was 41, but that was hot enough for me that I stayed indoors. Luckily they know how to build their houses so they're quite cool, but it felt like sitting in a cave with the windows shut down waiting for the evening. And then the cooler evening, which was like something 29° or something like that, with all the mosquitoes. But anyway I think, yeah it was a very concrete experience of what there is to be expected with the global warming. Here it's rather cool now even if it's sunny, no heat wave at the moment. And you look fresh, I don't know if there has been any rain but at least it's not very dry. I tried to to meet some pine trees in Mazzano, that was my plan, but actually the valley of Treja is full of oak trees and not so many pines. Or the famous stone pines or pinjas, which you can see in the countryside everywhere, very beautiful, Pinus pinea. There were two on the hill that I tried to approach from afar. But I met one pine tree in the valley. It was tall like you, even taller, I mean not as old and thick but the branches were even higher so I couldn't really see if it was one of your family or some relative, but the pinecones looked a little bit similar. Yeah, what else can I tell you? I'm looking at lichen living on your bark but I see no moss and no moss around you either. I've been reading a beautiful little book by Robin Wall Kimmerer, who is famous for her book Braiding Sweetgrass, but it's called Gathering Moss and it is absolutely lovely because it changes the perspective into the minuscule. And she also describes somehow the collaboration or the many ways that mosses in the humid forests in the north-west how they collaborate with other creatures in the forest and are actually absolutely necessary for their well-being. But I also read there, in the same manner as with some lichen, that mosses only grow when the air is pure. So it's a good sign if you see moss growing; of course they need humidity, too. But yeah, otherwise returning to Finland there is the debate going on about the new right-wing government with the "true Finns" and their Nazi sympathies, but also some racist statements that have horrified everybody. And in some sense it's very good that people are horrified because we know that if you tend to accept hate speech then it only gets worse. So that's in Finland, and then in Sweden they are exactly today burning a Koran again and it feels so absurd. Of course I understand the idea that in principle there is the right of free speech, and if you have asked for permission you, you're granted permission to organise a demonstration and so on. But this idea of sort of deliberately provoking and hurting people's religious feelings. I don't think it's about free speech any longer, it's become some sort of weird symbol, so no wonder that people react in a strange manner. I don't think that's sort of, it's not very clever and defendable. So the problem of tolerance, what should be tolerated and what should not be tolerated, where to put the limit? Oh, difficult issues. I'm very happy that I am not in the position to decide, but as a citizen of Finland I'm somehow responsible for the government that we have voted. But somebody wrote, it's not, you can't say that okay, if the majority wants to accept racist talk then we have to accept that. No, because in our constitution it's forbidden, so racism is not tolerated by the constitution. You can't change that with a right-wing or left-wing government. Well, my plan was not to start to talk about politics, but yeah, what else can I say? I'm so happy to see you here and that you're not in any way hurt by this arrangement with the musical. I was in Mazzano, I was working there in a residency, so I'm allowed to live in the small old house in the medieval part because it's like a grant, the grant is the access to the house. And I was working on old texts, re-visiting Animal Years, so the text that I wrote during the research project How to do things with performance from 2016 to 2021. I'm trying to make a compilation of those and kept editing those texts. And of course this idea of returning to things that you've written, old texts, it's quite a weird exercise because on the one hand you feel embarrassed, almost ashamed of some stupidities or naive statements you have written, but on the other hand, there are also parts that I really, I was impressed by, like how could I have been sort of writing all this and finding all these sources and oh wow, I could never do this today again. So, also in those texts, of course, they are texts not so much dealing with trees because those texts I compiled into another book which was published last year. These are texts about returning to places that I performed in on Harakka Island here nearby. Of course these ideas get mixed so you can't sort of, although I was engaged into different research projects of course they then intermingle and intertwine. But that was about what I was doing there, so. Maybe, I don't know what else to tell you, I will tell you more when I come back again after a few weeks. I hope the fences are away by then and that you'll have a good time. Maybe you like the music after all. So thanks again and take care.
Hello pine, long time no see. I wonder how this wind will move around; it was so calm and peaceful just while ago. Yesterday there was a storm, they say, because I wasn't here, I arrived yesterday. But you don't look like you have suffered at all. Yes, there are some of your pinecones below on the ground but no broken branches or anything. Maybe it wasn't such a bad storm and you're strong; you look good. I've been away travelling, flying, which is not a very good thing to do, but because I was in Africa that was the only option. Two conferences actually, and in one of them I also showed some material of you, but that was maybe not the main point. The good thing, perhaps one of the only few good things about flying long flights, which are disastrous for the climate, is the option to read books, so I've read some interesting things. Among other things the book called Humankind by a Dutch journalist and scholar, which is like written in a popular manner and investigates and tries to counter the argument of Hobbes that human beings are beasts, against, that would keep on fighting each other and that the kindness and politeness of civilisation, it's like a thin veneer, or how do you pronounce that, like a thin layer of polishing on top of our beastly nature. And he argues the opposite, that actually we are very kind, we are very sociable, we are very sort of group-creatures taking care of each other and not wanting to hurt each other as a default setting. But then because we are so attached to each other and want to be good and do good we sometimes turn against others that are not considered our own, so this curse, this kindness is s also a curse because when we try to be kind to our own kin, then we start fighting all the others. But the main point is that a lot of, he examines a lot of the experiments done, which are supposed to prove that people become nasty very easily, and reveals that they were most of them not watertight or not really coming to those results that the researchers claim they were. Well anyway, it's a book that that makes you feel good and is somehow inspiring, although it doesn't try to sort of paint everything in rose colour, but somehow the starting point is that trusting people is a good option. And of course when we speak of sort of others and othering you're somehow the ultimate other, but as we know, and intuitively human beings have known since time immemorial, I suppose, that you are our allies. You are other and very strange and difficult to understand, but without you, we would have a lot of trouble; we would be in big difficulty if we would exist at all, to be honest. Now I'm speaking of plants in general or trees. So this sort of basic trust, my basic trust is that I somehow assume that you could sense that I wish you well. Although one of the advise that the Dutch writer whose name I've forgotten, something like, unfortunately, I won't try [Rutger Bregman]; but one of his guidelines was that don't follow the golden rule, don't do to others as you would like them to do to you, because they might have a different taste or different preferences as, if I remember correctly George Bernard Shaw pointed out, wittily. But that's true, but assuming, although it seems fair to think that don't hurt others, if you don't want them to hurt you, or be kind to others in order for them to be kind to you, but of course it's true that we cannot know always what other people or other creatures, other beings want. And that's of course true with you as well. I've been reading a little bit about pine trees so now I know for instance that you probably don't mind me sitting here, but I also know that you might not like me to touch you, for example. Well, your bark is thick. What else? The other book I read and read like in one go, which was, almost one go, was by a famous environmentalist, George Monbiot or how ever you pronounce his name, who is writing in the Guardian often, but his book Regenesis or, yeah, I guess that's how its pronounced, rebirth even you could say, which is tough reading, because it really is about food and the food industry and farming and how to feed all humans without devouring the planet, as the subtitle goes. And his argument is that we should farm less because the more the farm the less there is space for all the other living beings. But he also has interesting examples of farmers who try to develop sustainable farming in many ways. There are so many things he like expresses, but one of the things that I remember is this idea countering the notion of local food, because that's of course one thing we've been taught. Now there is an aeroplane, a small aeroplane passing, so I'll wait a minute. Well, I don't know if it's small; maybe it's very big actually, but it looks small. Yeah, so the idea that eating local food is not really possible if we consider the whole of mankind or humankind because most of us live in huge cities and even if you would experiment with sort rooftop gardening or vertical gardens or whatever there is no way that there would be enough food grown in the cities for all the people who live there. That's his argument and it might very well be true. And of course he endorses a plant based diet, but funny enough he also talks about a Finnish guy whom he names Pasi who is doing experiments with bacteria that could produce protein from hydrogen and enjoyed the pancakes made with that flour. So why not? Of course we have to invent new ways of eating, too. And that reminded me of course that my ancestors, or at least the ancestors of people living in Finland, used to eat you, parts of you, when there was really a lack of food, if there was like a frost so that the crop would die. So, they would take the part right under your bark, something I think it's called 'nila', a very, very, very thin layer and prepare that and mix that with rye or wheat or whatever they had. But it's like from a huge tree like you there would be very little actually, that type of 'nila' produced. So don't worry, I don't think we will ever try to return to those practices again, but in desperate situations, what can you do? Although the idea that I found most promising, actually more promising them and making proteins by microbes, although that's fine probably, was the idea of trying to have perennial crops. So instead of sowing and harvesting and tilling the earth every year, there would be grass or types of wheat or similar crops or oats or rye, relatives to them that would grow sort of several years. And that sounds clever indeed. Of course as a tree, as a pine tree you of course, you're really perennial, so you might have a hard time understanding what it might mean to live only for one summer and try to reproduce in that time. A detail he mentioned, if I remember correctly, was that the cereals we use, or the plants, the forms of grass that we use for our cereals, are actually the type that thrives after disasters, like fire or earth quake, or something like that, when the soil is broken and they can come in and very quickly grow and reproduce before more stable plants would take over. And his notion was that we are continuously sort of creating catastrophes on soil because our types of grass that we grow need those catastrophes. So we are destroying the soil all the time in order to help those grasses to grow instead of trying to find ways to grow food, which would be like more permanent. And of course the ideal would be to have trees. And there are many trees that produce a lot of nutritious food, like walnuts, and hazel, and chestnuts and of course all the fruit trees. And I remember reading that even oak trees can be, the nuts of the oak trees, whatever they are called, I forgot what their name is in English, but they can, humans can't eat them as they are, but they can be prepared so that they are edible. So this idea of... olive trees, almonds, yes, there's so many of them. And even your relative, the pine in Italy where I'm going tomorrow, the Pinus pinja, they have big pine cones and seeds that you can eat. But I wouldn't imagine that we could eat your seeds. The squirrels do, I remember, but they're too small for us to some how utilise. But your pine cones are used to light fire, that I saw, because they were selling huge pine cones for that purpose in a shop here nearby. What else can I tell you or what could you tell me? Are you happy now or content? At least the park is now quite peaceful. Two young guys are playing with sticks not far from here, I can see them from here, but otherwise there's not, a flock of geese, not so much now. Well, thanks for listening to me again then and have a nice August. I hope to come to you at the end of the month again. So, take care.
Hello pine, it's a windy day or windy evening so I come close to you to have some protection. I'm so happy to see you well and with all your branches intact because there has been heavy rains and storms while I was away. There is a lot of roadworks in the park because the water has been flowing down and destroying the roads or the paths. All the soil has been removed by the water and so on. Today is the last day of August and it's officially the end of summer or the beginning of autumn tomorrow and it really feels like autumn. I was spending most of August in Mazzano Romano in a small village north-east from Rome, in Treja valley. Treja is a river. Very very very beautiful forests but not so many pine trees really. I met one pine there, but all the famous Italian stone pines, Pinus pinja, they were growing elsewhere, not in the valley. But I came already a few days ago and I spent yesterday and today on Harakka working with completely different things, not pine trees at all. And actually an old work called Animal Years, a series of performances for a video camera repeated once a week for a year, for twelve years actually in different places on the island. And now those works will be, or one example from each year, will be displayed in, as part of the group exhibition,The Artists' Island, which is opening tomorrow and will be open for all of September. So yesterday and especially today I have fastened now small, well, square pieces of aluminium with QR codes printed on them. And those QR codes lead to websites with the videos, so you can find those QR codes on location where those videos were shot. And of course, some of them were shot more than ten years ago, almost twenty years ago, wow. So although parts of the landscape on Harakka has not changed that much because it's a protected area, some parts have changed a lot. And of course the video technology has changed. So they really feel like historical works, the oldest ones. And also in Mazzano, although I was supposed to be working on a book called Talking with Trees, I was actually spending most of my time editing old texts related to those Animal Years as well. So a manuscript that I now sent in for peer review which is called Animal Years Revisited - How to do things with artistic research. That's a working title. So you can understand I'm so happy to be here with you because this is sort of what I'm supposed to be doing now, instead of focusing on those old works. So even though I'm very happy for the opportunity to somehow if not create a permanent work, but a work that would remain there on the island at least for a few years if the signs will stay. And of course the book, which will be a collection of texts that, they're were easily somehow forgotten in obscure online journals, and so on, so it's nice to have them in one place, and I'm really grateful for the opportunity to do that. But nevertheless that's all old works. So, and I feel that our conversations, although maybe I'm a little bit stuck with them, too, they're what I'm supposed to do now. They are about the future, also. A colleague of mine mentioned a text written by a Polish scholar, whose name I've forgotten, not Magda who was here, but somebody else, who basically discusses other peoples work, but mentioned, sir me as a performer-with-trees and a scholar, funny enough, and that I have suggested that we should be letting plants perform. I'm just wondering where have I suggested that, but of course I do that in some sense, instead of for instance, what she referred to, Vivian [Vinciane] Despret, who I haven't read and I should read, who speaks about the necessity to ask the right questions. So I should be asking you such questions that you can answer them. Instead of talking about my own concerns I should be formulating my questions in a manner that you could reply, you could answer. And of course the question should be such that they are some relevant for you. And I willingly admit that I'm not actually doing that. And I have even been proud of the fact that I don't force you to react in any manner if you don't wish. But now I start to think that I maybe should, it's somehow lazy human arrogance to just come to you and use my own faculties and my own language and my own habits, and then expect that if you want you can reply and if you don't want you don't have to and so on. And what I think is somehow ethically fair might be just pure arrogance. So I should look into that. But what else can I say at the moment? Well, while in Mazzano I read also an interesting book, which I had started to read already earlier, but stopped in midway, somehow, Paulo [Paco] Calvo, a Spanish cognitive scientist and philosopher, who is examining or investigating plant intelligence, and exactly as sort of, in order to understand, not plants only, but to understand intelligence and how we should somehow, what, how we could understand intelligence in a less anthropocentric, and human centred and biased and narrow way. Type, why would intelligence and brain be somehow necessarily linked and so on. So that was an interesting text and he was a great fan of Darwin. It was somehow party popularly written and in a personal style and he was an admirer of Darwin. And yes, then I read Andreas Malm's short pamphlet How to Blow up a Pipeline. It's an ominous title, but it's really, it's a short book about the strategies used by the environmentalist movement in later years. But also a great history of different type of movements, like to abolish slavery or women's vote and so on. So what are the tools, how have people managed to get some results. And he's criticising the prevalent idea of nonviolence, which he somehow describes as a holy principle that is not a questioned. And I admit that I am very much in favour of nonviolence and a great admirer of Gandhi and so on, but he was quite convincing in his argument that there might come a time when some sort of violence would be needed. And he also made a good distinction between violence that harms property or objects and violence against humans, and the latter of course should be avoided in the utmost. And of course other living beings, too. So I think if we... he distinguishes between terrorism and vandalism, so destroying property or the sort of . He told about his youth experiences with putting the air out from the tires of SUV cars, which are really burning more fossil fuels than any others. And the difference between that and terrorism, which is about killing and harming innocent people, bystanders, instigating terror in that sense. The had also the argument that often there is needed a radical side to a movement so that the more peaceful side of the movement can be taken seriously in negotiations. Type that Martin Luther King needed Malcolm X. The black panthers were needed for people to listen to his peaceful dream. Well, the climate movement is not the same as human rights, but they're of course interlinked, because more and more people realise that climate change causes suffering exactly to those people who already suffer, who already are in precarious positions. Well, a boat, in mist, is there a mist? I don't know. What a wake up call for me to stop babbling again. I'm happy to be with you and I'll come back again in a few weeks. And I hope that there will not be too heavy storms. I know you're strong and you have roots that go really deep and you're doing fine, but anyway. So I wish you all the best and thank you for listening to me again and take care.
Hello Pine. It's me, the talking human again. It's evening, the sun is still high but it's partly behind the clouds; there's not too much wind now. There was earlier in the day and especially yesterday. I've been in Helsinki only since Monday and I came with a boat directly to Helsinki instead of Turku and then taking the train as I usually do. So, the trip to quit much longer, but yeah. I come to you only now because I've been busy with all kinds of activities. Like yesterday we had a seminar, the first session of a seminar with doctoral students or doctoral candidates about auto-ethnography and auto-theory and auto-fiction and performative writing. And it was really exciting because I haven't been teaching for awhile. I mean, it's different to have a seminar with conversations than to just give one lecture or talk or something like that. But what is also especially interesting is of course that we are three doing it together, so Hanna Järvinen and Pilvi Porkola and me, and that's somehow stimulating to also see and experience one's colleagues, how they approach things. And of course doctoral candidates are colleagues in a way, too, so the discussions are quite interesting already with them. But what I'm sort of, what was even more inspiring or provoking also was a public lecture by the philosopher Emanuele Coccia. It was a big public event in the dance house or the auditorium there, organised by the Academy of Fine Arts and the Saastamoinen foundation. Last year they also had a lecture there but I couldn't participate and this time I really wanted to do that because I love the book The Life of Plants by Coccia, published quite a few years ago. And of course he didn't speak about plants now, but gave a talk related to contemporary art, but with the title Don't call me a Gaia. And he claimed, if I understood him correctly - well, many things - but the starting point was that we are now in a situation where we can, we have to name the planet to find a way to name the planet that everybody could agree on, that for the first time sort of there is a universal claim. And this is very difficult because of the colonial history and the inequalities in the world and so on, but this necessity of somehow agreeing about the common, starting with the common name for our planet. Well, he spoke about many other things. Also about this importance of the biosphere, the atmosphere. So not focusing on the earth only, on the soil, however important the soil is, but that we are not actually living in the ground. We're on the ground and in the air, most of our bodies when we walk around and and so on. And of course, the reason he was critical of the term Gaia was that it references the old Greek myth of Gaia, which is quite horrible. Mother Earth devouring her son and so on, nothing that everybody should agree upon in a planetary sense. He spoke about other topics, too, but why I am thinking of this planetary perspective, which is a little bit crazy to speak with you about that, because of course your perspective is in some sense so very very grounded exactly here. So you're really focused on the place, but so is actually everybody else. And in a planetary way we could say that there are pine trees all around the planet now, even in the southern hemisphere where you're imported mostly, but anyway. No, but the reason this planetary perspective is something that I thought about is a lecture I heard today, and I heard only part of it because the power of my iPad was finished and the iPad refused to charge. It was a zoom lecture, a seminar taking place in Stockholm at the moment, but the speaker was Olga Cielemecka, if I pronounce her name correctly, who is actually based at the University of Eastern Finland now. And she spoke about borders, so the very contrast to this planetary perspective, with a specific example of the border constructed through the ancient forest in Poland when there was this new route opened through Belorussia and Minsk, was it a year or two ago, and the violence that took place there. And also the violence inherent in the construction of these border walls that are sort of tools for hurting bodies or maiming them or, well, even killing. But this... and she also quoted Achille Mbembe, who spoke about this construction of divisions and borders and partitions. I can't now remember the exact quote. But these two talks were somehow absolutely contradictory in some sense, but also complementary, because that is exactly one reaction to the sort of shrinking planet, shrinking in the sense that the area of habitable places or habitable ground is diminishing through climate change and desertification, and sea level rise and so on. And the more, somehow... Of course, it's a paradox that the more we would need a common approach, the more we are, and especially in Europe and in the West but probably everywhere, we are constructing borders and partitions and divisions and restrictions for who can move and who cannot move and protecting financial capital in behind various kinds of walls and so on. So this paradox of these two talks was something that I have been now occupied with today, this afternoon. But there was something else that I very much liked, it was like not the main topic, but a side issue that Coccia spoke about. And he used the term "ghost loader", very funny, in Finnish you could say "haamulaturi", but the opposite of exorcism. And he maintained that that is one of the tasks for us now, to put subjectivity back to other creatures and other things. And he also referenced a French anthropologist, whose name I forgot, but who is already dead, who spoke about the fact that we've always been in the west, we've been animist. And I really like this idea of sort of subjectifying things, which is what Ursula Le Guin spoke about also, when she said that she tried to subjectify the universe because look what, where objectifying it has taken us. And the same thing that Amitav Ghosh says that storytellers need to restore the agency of non-humans and so on. But this idea of sort of a ghost loader, instead of exorcising demons out of things putting back the soul or the demon into, or the anima or animus into things and creatures. I like the idea. Of course that's something I'm doing with you, although it seems impolite and absurd to say that I'm sort of putting a soul or subjectivity into you, because in my opinion you have it already, it's just my task to try to contact your subjectivity or appreciate it, or engage in interpretation or divination. He used, Coccia used the term divination. And that is of course easily what happens that it's not, yeah. Divination is sort of one step further towards imagination than interpretation, maybe. Well, I wonder am I really trying to interpret you even, not to speak up divination, I'm just pouring my heart out onto your, onto the ground beneath you, utilising your benevolence and your silent endurance of my babbling. But yeah, so I'm not seeing myself as a ghost loader in relationship to you, but maybe these videos or podcasts could function as sort of ghost loaders for the listener, if they don't have the opportunity to engage with your subjectivity directly, or if they're not convinced that you are a subject, or your likes, your kin are subjects. Well, I don't know, I just like the word. And tomorrow there is a big party because the University of the Arts will be 10 years. And I realise that it's also 10 years since I left my job as professor there. I've been engaged as a professor for short periods both in the Theatre Academy and the Academy of Fine Arts since then, but my sort of long full-time job for 12 years was ended, I think in 2013, and that's 10 years ago. Okay, that's not what we are celebrating tomorrow but I'm going to participate in some type of discussion so I should prepare for that, too. But I think I will get some or I imagine or feel or both that I'm getting some energy and wisdom from you, strictly by contamination. So thank you for that. Thank you and take care. See you soon again.
Hello Pine, hello again. It's a beautiful bright October morning, or not morning anymore, it's noon, a few minutes past noon actually, but it's earlier than usual. Normally I come to visit you in the afternoon, I think. I reacted to it because the direction of the light is different. It feels like a very very long time since I've seen you here, because I've been in Stockholm and although I came already on Sunday I've been running around visiting Lubondas in the Lovisa archipelago nowadays Lovisa archipelago. And yesterday I went to Harakka Island in order to fetch some material for a lecture I'm preparing for tomorrow. And that's, that made me think about the relationship to the past. Because as I hear it, you are actually, a big part of your body, your trunk is dead wood, literally dead wood. So it's only a thin layer at the surface that is alive. It's fascinating to think that what if a human being would sort of grow a larger and larger skeleton, while living. But of course we also we humans we carry our past in our bodies, but not so, not in kilograms like that. People who claim that they carry their past in kilograms they do that in their fat cells, but I'm not; I think my kilograms are the same or even lesser than when I was 20, well about the same. But I have collected so much stuff so I really understand, it really feels like I would have, like I had a huge trunk of wood that I would have to carry with me. Okay, you don't have to carry your wood with you; on the country, it's very practical for you. There's been heavy storms, I saw on Harakka there was a tall tree, not an aspen but an alder tree had broken, fallen down completely and of course many branches. Here also in the park, I see some branches have been broken by the wind and then they've sort of cleaned up some branches and so on. But luckily they've also left some large trunks lying just for the insects and microbes and small critters. No, I'm not so fascinated about looking into the past. I'm going to, I was asked to give a lecture for like beginning theatre historians, students about performance art and live art and then what I'm contemporarily doing. But as a representative of a specific generation, of course. I mean, I guess I'm there as an artist although I'm also, I have graduated from the theatre research department many many years ago and still join theatre research organisations. But by no means have I been engaged in any type of theatre history really. But already trying to sort out your own history or even a small part; I tried to look at the texts from newspapers that I collected in the 80s and 90s not only from my own works, but because I was part of a group called Homo S or Homo $ in the beginning of the 80s, and in those days everything was written about a lot. Maybe I haven't, I thought why don't I have such clips any longer. And of course, one reason is that nobody writes about my work, but of course I'm not making theatre performances anymore. But also because a lot of the media are online, so you wouldn't have those papers that you have to keep in folders and so on. But only, somehow it's healthy to look at old stuff because you realise how much of various type of things everybody has done during a lifetime. But then of course it's impossible to somehow put that into a lecture, so I had to choose a few excerpts. But the nice part was that I found some old publications that I've written that I can use, although they feel now like they would be a little bit outdated, but well history can be outdated. In some way it's strange to be obsessed or think about these troubles when somehow... This morning there was a new killing again. This time not youngsters killing each other in Stockholm, but a Tunisian jihadist guy shooting three Swedish people who were going to a football match, game to support Sweden against Belgium. So they were shot simply because they were Swedes, because Sweden is now in the view of some Muslim extremists it's an enemy country because of the burning of the Qurans, or whatever problems. Yeah, but that's not all, because that was only this morning, but since we last met, there is a new war again. I mean nothing good has happened in the Ukraine occupation or the Russian war Russian Ukrainian war, but there is a new war now with Hamas suddenly making an attack on Israel and Israel now responding tenfold probably, nearly exterminating the whole Gaza Strip probably. It's so horrible with such a small area with so many people of course, it's no possibility to avoid civilian casualties, to use a horrible word, casualties. But then they said that they told people to leave, but they have nowhere to go. It's so, the same people who suffered so horribly in the Holocaust, the same people are now sort of, in the name of defending themselves which they of course have the right to do, they are sort of creating a similar type of extermination game. Not similar, but causing a lot of, a lot a lot of suffering two civilians. So my troubles with sort of sorting out my past is not relevant from that perspective. But on the other hand we all are, we have our own problems. I wonder if your problems now are the coming cold or maybe rather the storms. Because the storms are getting worse or stronger so of course, life becomes more dangerous for you in that sense. Yeah I should go back and try to think about performance art and live art and experimental theatre and whatever those terms might mean; theatre studies and performance studies, and. They seemed so important when I was a professor of performance art and theory, as it was called, and changed the program to become an international one with English as the language of tuition, the name was changed into Live Art and Performance Studies exactly to avoid those endless discussions of what the terms in Finnish mean. Because they are somehow, or were, but still are, of course, existing phenomena that you could refer to. But now all that seems not so important and it seems much more important to talk with you. But of course I should also try not only to talk with you and sort of babble of my own problems, I should also try to develop these talks or conversations into something more meaningful. And maybe also reflect upon what the possibilities are of developing something more generally useful of these conversations or this type of conversations. What would happen if everybody would sit in the parks and talk with pine trees, would that be a better world? I doubt that, but the fact that we should, we could remember that you're living beings that are worthy of our respect, that you have a lot of history and memory in your trunks, so we couldn't just take them and think of them as material. Yeah okay, I shouldn't start moralising now. I prefer you to be happy to be able to sit here with you, and I wish you a great day today and a great day tomorrow and many great days to come. So take care.
Hello Pine, good afternoon, or almost evening. It's only 3 30 now when we've moved to winter time but well, there's only one hour to sunset and it feels like it's starting. It's quite windy, and it's also damp because it's been raining earlier today but there's no rain right now, but wind. I choose this different camera angle, a little bit, today because I wanted to show the beautiful small rowans next to you, which are dark red, gloriously coloured. Otherwise the nearest deciduous trees to you are brownish and they've lost some of their leaves, but further down in the park the maple trees or sycamores are really golden yellow and beautiful. It's the end of October and they say that this year, the thermic autumn, the autumn in sort of temperature terms, was very brief because September was very warm and now October has been colder than usual. Halloween will the last of October, tomorrow but we will celebrate next week end. Celebrate or not, I'm not celebrating Halloween but there will be a Kekri party, Kekri is the Finnish equivalent for Halloween or the pagan autumn party. I've been, well, sort of the new things or different things I've been doing now the recent days, I've been weaving a rag rug. It's not the first rag rug I've been weaving, it's the third, but the first one this year. Yeah, it's funny, somehow very satisfying to find new use for old discarded materials, although I have to admit besides old rags cut by somebody else I also found two sheets, colourful sheets in the recycling centre and made, cut them to rags myself. So that's something. Another new thing is that I've been trying to listen to books. That's so popular nowadays and I prefer to read books, even paper books, but sometimes I read them on my iPad, but now I tried to listen to a book. And that's actually very practical, when you do something with your hands or so, but it's somehow also very weird because the reader, her or his in this case her sense of rhythm and her intonation and her way of pausing and her pronunciation of names and so on is so strange. The book I'm reading is a Finnish translation of the famous bestseller, The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, and it's quite impressive. I'm reading that one because I finished reading a more recent book by her, The Nature of the Future, or actually that's the subtitle of the book, the real name is something like Under a White Sky, or something like that, which was an amazing book about the various efforts people are doing in trying to find solutions to mitigate climate change and global warming, and also try to save some endangered species or protect them and so on. And it's like a science-fiction story. It's horrifying to think that those efforts really take place right now. And people are working with geo-engineering weird solutions to problems that have been caused by other weird solutions to other problems. Yeah, it's cold, but this listening to the book made me think about how, if you are listening to me, but especially humans listening to me might suffer in a similar way when I pronounce English in strange ways or my grammar is clumsy or I don't find the words and so on, and I hope it's not so irritating. But on the other hand, because this is somehow not premeditated, this is what happens right now and it's maybe forgivable in some sense. Well, I have to say you look the same as before, luckily, but there's also some of your, there is problems with some of your relatives or your kin in Stansvik nearby, where there are activists trying to protect an area of old forest that they want to cut down to create infrastructure and new housing. I haven't been there and I haven't even considered going there, but I feel very much sympathy and solidarity with the people trying to protect your kin there and I saw some images with very beautiful pine trees. So let's hope they can save at least some of them. Yeah, otherwise there is winter coming. They say there was a little bit of snow this morning, I didn't see it but I wasn't up so early. And in any case, although it's more wet and damp right now, it's like the darkest time of the year. And we humans don't like it but I guess you don't like it either, because sunlight is food for you or an important source of energy for you. And I always think that already in January, although it's dark but that's like the New Year and there we go towards light, so it's like two more months of deepening darkness. but I wish you all the best now. Let's hope that there will be no bad storms and let's hope your colleagues will survive. Thanks for today.
Hello Pine, hello again. Nice to see you. It's damp, dark November and actually there is a soft snowfall, or was a few minutes ago, but the snowflakes are melting immediately when they get to the ground. The grass is still green. Many of the deciduous trees are bare, but some of them have their yellow leaves, some even green like the alders and the poplars. And you look like before, maybe a little bit more grey, more serene, more silent. Well, I've been in Stockholm and visiting a pine, a small pine there, next to a big motorway or highway, a really noisy one, Essingeleden. So compare to that you have rather calm and peaceful circumstances. Speaking of peaceful, that's one of the hot topics of today and the sort of depressing topics. It's the bombing of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli - what's the word when you give it back to somebody? I can't find the word in English now, but really like punishing all the civilians in Gaza for the surprise attack done by Hamas, which complicates it. Of course a lot of my friends and colleagues say why don't you just demand peace, or at least ceasefire in Gaza right now, because there has been so many civilians killed. But there are difficult loyalties, of course for some people with Israel because of the European background of the Holocaust, but also because actually Putin and the Russians are supporting Hamas and maybe also because Hamas this time started with the terror attack. And even if people say that yes, but it was legitimate because of all the apartheid and the occupation of Gaza by the Israelis for so long, but nevertheless the current violence was began by them, so it's somehow more difficult to unanimously just say stop killing civilians in Gaza. Although by now it is somehow obvious to everybody that too much is too much. But what the possible solution could be for the whole disastrous problem, I don't know. I don't know and it's such a pain to see such conflicts that go on and on and on. But anyway, I haven't been active on social media or in any discussions because I feel on the one hand powerless but also, somehow, I don't think it's easy to take a clear stand, but maybe now for a ceasefire, but in general. And now that means that I behave like a lot of privileged, middle-class, middle-aged or old white people. They focus on climate change and the sixth extinction and environmental issues rather than the suffering of humans. I'm reading or I began reading a fascinating collection of texts by Nicole Seymour or something like that, a scholar, and it's called Bad Environmentalism. It's probably some sort of literary and film and performance studies, but I read only the introduction and it was like quite sharp analysis of the type of, very American though, the type of environmentalism that is somehow taking the high moral ground and being sort of natural and healthy and pro-life, and often conservative and somehow well-meaning and sincere and no irony, no humour, and no ambiguities, no bad taste, no queer approaches. And that's true, of course. Personally I don't like so-called environmental writing very much because I think this, like eulogies for, about the beauty of nature, they're not so interesting to read. I prefer then to enjoy nature as such. But also I'm not an environmentalist in a strict sense, and especially not in the American wilderness outdoor hiking type at all. Here we are in the middle of the city and I'm sitting on a well-manicured lawn next to you, a very urban pine. But I recognise the critique and I recognise the critique of this sort of, yeah, middle-class hypocrisy or how do you pronounce that, of sort of despising or looking down on noisy drunk, working-class people spreading their litter around in the parks. Or not necessarily working class people but just youth, but anyway. So this idea of somehow not to be proper. So being proper as something that is related to environmentalism. So I haven't read the book and I am not expecting that much because I also have difficulties with these cultural studies people who look at all kind of trash, trash in the sense of like commercial bad films or things that are not very interesting and then they make a very strong point that they somehow feel that it's legitimate to support this kind of trash because there are so many people who like that trash and who should have the right to do that. Or Las Vegas or Disneyland or whatever. I can understand part of it, but, well as a Finn and as an old woman, I think there are worse sins than earnestness or seriousness or serenity although nobody likes hypocrisy of course. So what else? Bad Environmentalism and mass murder of civilians and yes, the war in Ukraine goes on. And Sweden is still not a member of NATO. Strange, strange times. And it gets darker and darker and darker for awhile. In less than two months the Sun will be returning slowly. Although the colder months are after Christmas, but the light will return. And you like that too, I know I know, I like it, too. The Sun is going down, well, in half an hour or so. It's grey already. Well, I wish you a nice rest of the week and probably the next week too. I hope you're not too cold, probably not. I hope that you're doing fine, so take care.
Hello Pine. Good to see you in this early winter. It is the 2nd of December and there is already plenty of snow and plenty of kids with sledges and all kinds of stuff that they can slide on down the hill. There is quite a lot of snow but not on you, on the ground so I guess it's no problem for you. You have nothing extra to carry now unlike sometimes when there is a lot of wet snow and that might be really heavy. But this should be fine; it's actually giving you more light I suppose. I've been spending a week together with your relatives or your kin, your species actually, pine trees in Örö, on Örö Island where I went for the first time for a residency in November 2020. And now during one week at the end of November, it was quite amazing the change that took place. When I arrived it was like rainy weather, mud and darkness. And then there were a few bright sunny days with cold. And during the last days there was snowfall, very much snow also there, which is further south from here. So, very different from winters earlier, when we always used to wonder whether there would be snow before Christmas or, you know this dream of white Christmas, and it was not at all always the case. Of course, some people say this might disappear as well, but if there will be warm and rain, but let's see. I know snow is important for many type of plants and animals because it creates a warming and protecting cover. And it's funny because it makes the life so very evident because you can see all the traces of small animals or even big animals, of course, if there are, in the snow. Even here you can see the marks of the sledges and footprints of the dogs and the markings with piss that some dog has made under you, a small mark, though. But of course on Örö you could see all the animals. Yeah, what could I say, I visited, I didn't just spend my time on Örö walking around, but I visited some of the pines that I've been performing with, either in 2020, or then in 21 when I visited the island quite regularly. And I recorded some of those revisits. I even wrote a letter to a pine there that I had written to before, but that was in Finnish. And I suddenly became aware how strange it seemed to write. And even though I didn't write properly because it was too cold for that, so I was dictating in a way a letter, but it was still a letter and not a chat like this, like we're talking now. So I wonder what will happen next. I guess I won't be coming to you next year, so I'll come once or twice more this year, but I will try to find a new pine friend to talk to. Maybe in this very same park. And of course I can come by and say hello to you always when I come here. But it would be interesting to find some new approach to conversation. And I was talking at a discussion about post doc research with some colleagues and telling about my experiments, if you remember our experiment with Between Pines, Tallar emellan, my attempts at serving as a messenger between you and a pine in Stockholm. and I also openly explained that I wasn't so happy with that experiment. But in the discussion, there came the idea of exactly the sounds. So what kind of sounds you would prefer. Because if you can hear or sense vibrations as most plants can, so what kind of, what kind of music or what kind of sounds could I make that would be aesthetically pleasing for pines? I know there has been these controversial or actually pseudoscience experiments with playing music to house plants and so on in the 60s and I'm not thinking of that, but it would be interesting to find a more suitable mode of communication actually than this type of one-sided monologue. But that will remain for next year. So this year I still have one performance of sorts or one talk to look forward to, and that's an alumna talk to students who are graduating now in the autumn. I don't know how many they are, in the Theatre Academy. And I might come to you and ask for advice, what to say to them, because that's of course a really big honour, but also a great challenge. I mean, next-generation of artists, or not only next generation but young artists, how can I give them some interesting advice or what kind of advice you would give them. Alright, maybe I leave you with the kids and thank you for this moment. Enjoy the winter as best you can or endure the winter I should perhaps say so, take care.
Hello pine, nice to see you again. It's been awhile. I've been in Stockholm and then now one week in Helsinki, quite busy. There has been the Kuva research days, the research days of the Academy of Fine arts in Helsinki, three or three and a half days of interesting presentations and discussions. And then yesterday I had the honour of giving a speech to the students or the young artists that graduated from Theatre Academy now at the end of the year. And that was a huge challenge, but it went reasonably well. Originally my plan was to come to ask you for advice and record some advice from you to show them, but because of time constraints I actually visited a pine tree in Stockholm that I used to talk with three years ago. Yes, it's only - there's plenty of snow. They've warned that the weather will change and there might even be rain and it's not very cold right now, but it's still minus degrees and plenty of snow. It's fun with the snow because you can see all the traces. Right here, next to the rock where I'm sitting, there were traces of a rabbit or a hare, they're so very recognisable. But of course most traces here are of humans, some dogs, too. It's very soon time for the winter solstice, next week, so only a few more days we're moving towards longer and longer and longer nights. And then it turns and we can start expecting spring. I know, I know, the coldest part of the winter is after the winter solstice, but the light will help. There is, there has been so many things that I've learnt during the week, so I wonder what I should tell you about. Beginning with the screenings on Monday, some really beautiful video works, including for instance, the work by Francis Alÿs with a fox running around in the National Gallery during the night followed by the surveillance cameras. I've seen it before, but it's always fascinating. It was somehow related to the theme of romantic irony, which was the theme of the first day organised by Miklos Gaál. And the second day was organised around the topic of matter, materialities. And then the third one was organised by Nina Liebenberg, who is postdoctoral researcher at the Academy, originally from University of Cape Town. And that was a great event. She had created sort of an exhibition with objects, so it was about object studies, but also invited scientists, plant scientists and ecologists, very fascinating. There was also discussion about two small balls or objects of birch, which were probably made of the sort of fungal outgrowths on birches. And speaking of that I now see, or I remember from before, but I see a small outgrowth on you, too. From from here where I sit it's on the left, because now I have a new perspective. I'm recording you from downhill rather than uphill as I usually do. And it's very small, but I wonder if it's also a fungal outgrowth or if it's something else. Maybe a branch that was broken at some point or something like that. I don't know if I'm able to come and visit you before Christmas but maybe after Christmas before I go to Stockholm again. And I hope that the snow will remain because this light makes everybody so happy, and of course the kids who can play with the sledges, climbing up the hill and then sliding down. And it might be that even though there would be a little bit of rain, we could have the snow for awhile, because there's quite a lot of it. But not so much on your branches, actually. Now this time of the year it's like the time of the spruces, not of the pine trees, but you can count yourself lucky that pine trees are not celebrated in the same way as the spruces, because although they're decorated and brought indoors and sort of made the centrepiece of attention, they're also killed in masses. So, after Christmas there is always the sad sight of the dry spruces in piles everywhere. Now I am going forward, fast forward. We are not there yet, we're actually, there's one week to Christmas Eve. So let's celebrate the coming winter solstice first. Alright I wish you a great winter solstice and an even greater spring time, soon. Alright, take care.
Hello Pine. Good to see you. It's one of the In-between days as we call them 'Mellandagarna' or 'Välipäivät', the days between Christmas and New Year in the western calendar, so we are in the midst of Yuletide even if the winter solstice is now behind us. There are kids with sledges and their parents with sledges, too, around you enjoying the abundance of snow. And now you have a lot of snow on your branches, too. I hope it's not too heavy, but because it's not that wet it probably isn't. You know what, this is my last visit to you, not only my last visit to you this year, but since it's the end of the year it will be my last formal visit, at least in this series of conversations that I've called Ponderings with the pine in the park or ponderings with a pine in the park, if I remember correctly. And of course now when we are ending this collaboration and ending this year, I feel like I should summarise, but of course it's impossible. But, the war continues in Europe. There is war in Ukraine, but we are somehow accustomed to it so the shock of war is not really felt anymore. Especially not now when there is the massacre going on in Gaza, which is really an international controversy because it stirs all the debates on anti-Semitism and pro Israel and pro Palestine, and like decades, decades of course atrocities. But now, quite recently, the leaders, the current leaders of Israel have explained that they will continue the war until they have destroyed Hamas. And they somehow do that by destroying all of Palestine or all Palestinians or maybe they just can't distinguish between them. But of course you can't really exterminate a whole people, I guess. It just doesn't work that way. I don't know, it's horrible and complicated and I have no simple suggestions for that. So instead of describing to you the political situation in the world right now, which I'm not an expert on at all, although I feel somehow the suffering from people that is transmitted through people who have their relatives there and so on. So instead and I thought I'd talk to you a little bit about the last book I read. I finished it actually last night because I stayed - oh, now it fell into the snow, I had the book with me. Last night there was full moon so I stayed up quite late and finished the book. I think I mentioned last time we met there is a beautiful section called Under the Pines [Pines Under the Snow] in the beginning of the book. The book is The Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. It's a real classic and people usually know the sequence called Thinking Like a Mountain, which is why the biota of a mountain needs the wolves and many other things. But this is a pocketbook I found in an antiquarian shop last fall and it's not only the Sand County Almanac but also Essays on Conservation from Round River from the beginning of the 50s. And well there is a lot of controversial stuff here, of course, but also beautiful things which are, if you think of it in the context of the time, and of course it's very American also, and aware of that, sometimes compares with Europe. And also mentions north eastern Europe as one of the places where somehow there is a balance between utilising the land and maintaining it and I just wonder what on earth he means by that, and if that was true in the 50s and if Finland is north eastern Europe or if he thinks of something else. But okay, nevertheless I just thought I'd read the section from the part which is called Land Health and the A-B Cleavage, which is discussing the land ethic that he tries to suggest that is in need of development. Well, so I quote: "A land ethic then reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the land. Health is the capacity of the land for self-renewal. Conservation is our effort to understand and preserve this capacity. Conservationists are notorious for their dissensions. Superficially these seem to add up to mere confusion, but a more careful scrutiny reveals a single plane of cleavage common to many specialized fields. In each field one group (A) regards the land as soil, and its function as commodity- production; another group (B) regards the land as a biota, and its function as something broader. How much broader is admittedly in a state of doubt and confusion." (258-259) And then I'll read one more section, which is a direct continuation, because that might interest you, because it's about the forestry. So I quote: "In my own field, forestry, group A is quite content to grow trees like cabbages, with cellulose as the basic forest commodity. It feels no inhibition against violence; its ideology is agronomic. Group B, on the other hand, sees forestry as fundamentally different from agronomy because it employs natural species, and manages a natural environment rather than creating an artificial one. Group B prefers natural reproduction on principle. It worries on biotic as well as economic grounds about the loss of species like Chestnut and the threatened loss of the white pines. It worries about a whole series of secondary forest functions: wildlife, recreation, watersheds, wilderness areas. To my mind group B feels the stirrings of an ecological conscience." (259) Well, this was Aldo Leopold in 1950s and of course the whole talk of wilderness feels absurd today, at least in a country like Finland where there is no wilderness but we try to preserve some areas as sort of old-growth forest, at least. And of course you here, you're not even in an old growth forest or not even in an agronomic forest, but in the middle of the city park, so serving the recreation industry by your whole being. But yeah, I just wanted to leave you with this idea of a development of a land ethic. And I want to thank you for inspiring me to trying to understand something about the historical and social development of various ideas how to maintain this planet liveable for humans and four pines and four squirrels and four insects and for microbes and birds and kids and yeah. So thanks for these meetings or conversations with you and I wish you a very very good New Year. Take care.