Being on an island is different than being in an archipelago. From there you can se far to the sea unlike in the archipelago where you see only more islands. On an island you are a little bit like on a mountain. People come there for a purpose; nobody ends up there by chance or drops in accidentally. Though an island does not direct your thoughts upwards as the mountains do but outwards to the sea, towards that which leads away from the mainland.
A small rocky island outside the city is like a wild hill in the middle of the fields. You come here like one would come into a park, for a break from the noise of the city rather than to encounter the silence of nature. Maybe the tourist boats and waterbuses that rattle around the island, or the huge shopping malls that glide by and the dockyard constructions, which stretch out to sea a few hundred meters away, have numbed my senses. Or the giggling of sun lovers on near-by island Uunisaari, not to mention the balloons, the helicopters and the benji jumpers. The silence on the island is relative, but for breathing the place is good. The island resembles a mountain also because the strongest natural element is the wind. The wind is blowing from some direction all the time, in summertime mostly from southwest. Sometimes, however, – like this year – the wind is resting.
Some time ago a Norwegian architect wrote a book called Genius Loci, the spirit of place. The spirit of this place, too, has been evoked in different performances. The landscape you see is elsewhere, however. You have an image of it in front of you. An image of a landscape is not a landscape, and a landscape is not an image. Before you can enjoy a landscape with your senses it has been formed in your mind. The dream of a "healing wilderness" that could be a salvation is a cultural product as well as any dream garden. The wilderness does not name itself. Sanctity in nature is man made. Fortunately this park-island does not even attempt to be a sanctuary. Rather an information centre, a piece of archived nature on display. It is as if created to suite the size of groups of schoolchildren and for the presentation of wonders of the sea in aquariums. The "mustard gas" of the Chemical Research Laboratory of the Armed Forces has long since evaporated into the wind or dissolved into the water. Pine soap, motor oil, blue algae or not -–the surrounding sea is nevertheless water.
When nature around us shrinks we lose large areas of ourselves too. Something within us dies when the gap between man and nature is widening. The ecological imbalance of the environment is reflected in the soul, impoverishing it. Our soul longs for the power of nature and life's holiness. It would like to feel the sky, the mountains and trees as its own, as parts of itself. It is still searching for that connection. It listens and probes. Though it seems as if we had lost the connection, it is still there. The umbilical cord is so thin, however, that it risks breaking completely. It has to be strengthened. The better our habitation is adapted to the rhythm of nature the better we feel. These claims were made by an American woman, who advises how to furnish your home to accommodate your soul. Maybe. I cannot think of the relationship to nature as an umbilical cord, but I do know that one's mind rests when one's eyes can rest. And one's soul (or perhaps rather one's spirit) needs space to breathe.
The basic elements of landscape are the sky and the earth. When these two join in a fortunate way one feels good in being in the landscape. There are places where the sky dominates and places where the earth is strongest. In his book, describing the spirit of place, the Norwegian architect suggests three basic types of landscape: cosmic, romantic and classic. The cosmic landscape he finds in the desert – sand, horizon, the sky as a great vault, a world larger than man. The romantic landscape he finds in the north – the many details of the ground, the play of light and shade, changing weather conditions. The Mediterranean landscape he considers classic – strong and regular light, clear outlines and forms, human dimensions.
A typical example of a romantic landscape is the northern forest. The ground is seldom flat; the microstructure of the surface is rich. The sky is visible only as areas between trees, hills or clouds. The quality of the air is varying. The sun is low and creates changing shadows. Water is everywhere. The world is changeable, incomprehensible and mysterious. The earth, not the sky, dominates the landscape. There is only an endless amount of undefined places, no single unifying order. The mythical inhabitants of the landscape are elves, goblins and trolls. The Nordic forest is romantic in the sense of returning man to an imaginary past. Man lives connected to nature but not socially, everybody finds in nature his own hiding place.
In a cosmic landscape, in the desert, the concrete world is simplified – the vast unfruitful earth, the cloudless vault of the sky. The burning sun creates a light without shadows; the air is hot and dry. The landscape is absolute and eternal like the cosmic order. The movement of the sun divides space into east and west, time into day and night and creates a simple rhythm. The only surprise is a sandstorm. The earth offers no shelter and no special places. The sky dominates. The sun, the moon and the stars create an order undisturbed by changes in the weather. God is one just as the landscape, absolute. "The further you go into the desert, the closer you come to God", they say. The world is abstract, surfaces and lines. Man needs an oasis for habitation, a microcosm within the macrocosm.
A classical landscape is an intermediate form between north and south and it can be found in Greece, of course. The landscape forms a composition – clear units, mountains, valleys and individual places. A strong regular light creates sculptural forms. The landscape receives light without loosing its tangible character. The earth is both continuous and variable. There is no surface microstructure. All proportions are human, like the anthropomorphic gods of the Greeks. Man finds himself in nature, not an absolute God, no elves or trolls. The connection of man and nature is realized practically, in agriculture, and creates a cultural landscape. Man positions himself in front of the landscape instead of hiding in it. It is said that the classical landscape makes brotherhood possible, why not sisterhood; each unit remains individual as part of a whole.
Romantic, cosmic and classic are only epithets, some kind of archetypes for landscape. They are found as combinations or mixtures. Inhabiting a romantic landscape means rising from micro to macro level. The power of the earth is given, but God is concealed. In a cosmic landscape the process is opposite, the goal is an enclosed garden, Paradise. In a classic landscape man stands in the middle and is able to reach inwards as well as outwards.
A seascape is actually cosmic, classic and romantic. The sea is almost like a desert – only a flat surface, the horizon and the sky, no multiplicity, no details. Even if the sky is low the world around is wide, larger than man. Unchangeable it is certainly not; it moves and shifts perpetually. The weather conditions as well as the light change all the time. The sea can hide anything, while its surface is smooth. When sunny, a seascape is like a postcard reminding of summer holidays.
An image of a landscape is not a landscape, and a landscape is not an image. A landscape is not only a view. The image it creates in your mind is an assemblage of memories and fantasies. Even cropped and censored it is somehow real. When I stand by the rail and look at the sea I am performing for the camera. The situation is fictional, artificial, a show. Still I can feel the wind on my skin.
The sky is as large as the place you watch it from, they say. How to perform a landscape? Perhaps it is best done by walking through the landscape, moving, breathing, sensing. Or – if that is how you are inclined – standing silent in the midst of it looking around you, letting it surround you, breathing, smelling, listening. How to perform landscape for somebody else? Show the images or play the sounds? Transform it into stories? Retell stories generated by it? Imagine it as a site for dramatic encounters between people? Perhaps the best way is the first one, to make an excursion into the landscape, document it and present the evidence to others, to be experienced in another way.
Why speak of the irrelevant? To film, to record, to tell stories, to present takes, what does it matter? The media transforms it; time transforms it; the eyes of the other see it in another way. More relevant is the repetition, the desire and compulsion to repeat, the game that becomes an obsession, a routine, a devotion and even narcissism. Or the wish for romance and beauty, avoiding irony, continuity in what is changing, change in that which stays, the endlessness of time...
Stop, that is enough. Being in an image is different than being in a landscape. A landscape is not an image, and its image generates only more images. Being in an image is different than being on stage, even though one can transform into an image on stage. On stage one tends to see a human being and not a world, on stage one always sees only an image of one self. I wanted to show the wind, and the wind is not visible if the world is of stone. I thought I am needed because I am not of stone. I did not think that neither is the sea. It shows the wind, and even the sky when the wind is resting – as a reflection, though.