The experience of a simple experiment or exploration can function as inspiration for an artistic research project. My video diary on Mount Randa on Mallorca provided such an experience. A spontaneous reaction to the environment started a process that evolved into a twelve-year project, the last year of which I am currently working on. In this exposition I am recounting my experiences on Mount Randa and presenting some materials of the first experiments I conducted there and soon after returning. By returning to this old work I ask whether it contains some abandoned or alternative paths worth returning to. Besides this introduction, which forms the main part of the discussion on the topic, this exposition consists of appendixes: videos, sketches for video installations, voice-over texts, documentation from the performance and the paper “Landscape as a View” as well as conclusions.
My subtitle “Sort of a Beginning” is slightly misleading, since it is useless to look for a beginning. We are always in the middle of events. We can still ask how to begin? And how to tell about it? In a section called “Finding the landscape” in an article dealing with tourism titled “Performing Landscape” I tell one story of how I found my way to Mount Randa.
“When, in Farrera de Pallars, I recorded the meditations on love written by Ramon Llull in the 13th century, I did not know Mallorca was his birthplace. When I found out, I went there one year later. I flew to Palma, the capital of Mallorca, and spent a week running around the mountain resorts of the island, found a booklet describing the monasteries and visited a few of them. The famous Cartuja de Valldemossa in the Tramuntana Mountains, where George Sand and Chopin spent some time, was more a sanctuary dedicated to the memory of Chopin than a religious institution. A hermitage only a few miles from there was astounding, well hidden, situated amazingly on a cliff above the sea, with small almost Arabic-looking huts, some information on Llull and a miraculous view. The site of the legendary Miramar, the school and monastery founded by Llull himself, is today private property a bit further along the coast. The beautifully situated Santuario del Puig de Maria near Pollenca was a difficult place to reach and had no connection to Llull. Monasterio Santa Maria de la Real, where Llull spent many years studying, was rather dull, in the middle of the fields near Palma, and clearly hostile to foreign visitors – especially women. In the end Santuario de Cura de Puig de Randa had room for visitors.
I knew Mount Randa was the place where Ramon Llull supposedly had his vision for his Ars Magna or Ars Generalis, so I took a bus to the nearest town and walked eleven kilometres across the plain and up the winding road to the mountain. On the flat top I found huge satellites and a monastery of the Franciscan tertiary order (or lay brothers), originally a grammar school founded in the beginning of the 16th century, a small church, a museum dedicated to Llull, a huge parking lot for tour buses, a souvenir shop with plastic crucifixes in all pastel colours and an old monk (wearing a hood and a rope as a belt). He explained that, yes, I could rent a room there for a reasonable price since the season for bicycle groups was only later, in February. I made a reservation, walked all the way down again and felt like a hero, or a pilgrim. It turned out to be reasonably cheap to take a taxi directly from Palma, so I packed my luggage and moved.” (Arlander 2003a)
How I ended up recording a video diary on Mount Randa is described very briefly:
“I spent only about three weeks on Mount Randa trying to write the second act of the radio play I had started in Farrera and video recording a small work inspired by the constant wind (slices of paper with a sign by the road side moving in the wind – never edited). I video recorded the material for Wind Rail as a by-product, a private souvenir. My room was at the end of a terrace facing southwest. The view from the mountaintop was breath-taking, the sunsets were glorious, and the changing weather conditions - clouds, mist, and sun, always windy - were amazing. Dominating were the sky and the wind. I was fascinated by the fact that the wind was not visible without something moved by it, so I used myself as the moving element and video recorded me with a black scarf looking at the view.” (Arlander 2003a)
While staying on Mount Randa on Mallorca a few weeks in October 2000, I had the intention of writing a radio play about Ramon Llull, who according to tradition had received the inspiration to his magnum opus on that very mountain. There one could find, besides a museum devoted to the memory of Llull, also a cave where he supposedly spent some time. I also videoed a work, which was structured in a way resembling the work I had videoed in the Pyrenees the previous year, Where the Sea Begins, where I followed two mountain brooks on their way down to the valley and videoed their water flow approximately every ten meters. On Mount Randa I videoed the movement of a piece of paper, fastened on branches or in the grass by the roadside in the wind. I had written a sign for harmony and good luck on a piece of paper cut off from a receipt roll. I began videoing at the foot of the mountain and progressed a bit further up every day finally ending up at the courtyard of the monastery. This daily rather tiresome and time-consuming process of videoing did not produce such video material or such an experience that would have resulted in an artwork, even less in an artistic research project. It remained an empty experiment. It could be worthwhile to ponder why the images did not turn out to be interesting, or why I lost my interest for them, and moreover, why I stubbornly continued with the experiment until the end, even though I realized already while videoing that the material probably would not be inspiring enough. In some sense I continued with the process for the sake of the experience only, or perhaps out of some distorted sense of duty.
Besides the main works, writing the radio play and videoing the piece of paper whirling in the wind, I ended up keeping a video diary recording the changes in the landscape seen from the terrace outside my window. The view of the valley from the mountain was stunning and the constant shifts in the weather and the changes in the landscape they produced were striking. A simple view – a terrace rail and the sky, passing clouds and the shifting light – seemed to transform every few hours, so I videoed it several times a day. For the changes in the wind to be visible in the image I stepped in front of the camera with a black silk scarf, which fluttered with the wind. Later I edited a video work out of the material videoed during a couple of weeks, Tuulikaide – Wind Rail, and added a fragment of the text on Llull.
A few years later I recorded a continuation of the work for the Wind Rail performance on Harakka Island:
“While encouraging my students to use themselves as material for small solo performances, I realised I could make a performance for two projectors and a live performer standing as a silhouette in front of the “empty” view, thus demonstrating the absence of wind on stage (as described above). I also realised a second part was needed, and that I could film it on Harakka Island somewhere. An especially windy place on the north-western shore with an open sea view had a wooden rail suggesting the inverse form of the terrace rail on Mount Randa. Full symmetry was impossible because of a hill to the left. In August 2002 the weather was exceptionally good, calm and sunny, with less wind than anticipated - no spectacular skies. I could not decide which image was more interesting, standing at the end of the rail close to the cliff edge, or closer to the camera, more like the size of the human figure on Mount Randa. So I video recorded both. I ended the last image by walking into the landscape and then out of the picture, as a statement of a kind.” (Arlander 2003a)
The material thus produced came to function as an impulse for numerous studies on landscape based on the same technique – a video camera on tripod recording repeatedly and image framed in the same way of the same landscape, and a figure in the landscape wrapped in a scarf with her back to the camera – especially the twelve-year series Animal Years, where each year is named after the animals in the Chinese calendar. In a fragment of the text “How Landscape Moves Me” I am narrating these first experiments:
“Repeating an image framed in the same way and video recording it from the same place, I did for the first time in a monastery on Mount Randa in the autumn of 2000, when I wanted to record the constantly changing colours of the sky... I stepped in front of the camera, into the image, in order to show the movements of the wind and to create a diary of sorts. I created a sequel to the diary on Harakka Island and experimented with standing at two different distances from the camera: standing closer to the edge of the image, like a shepherd leading the viewer’s gaze into the landscape in a classical landscape painting, or then deeper in the image, as a smaller but central figure, a focal point. In the last images on Harakka Island, I finally walked along the path out of the image. I wrote a text for the video and used it later as a recorded voice-over speech in a performance.After these experiments, exploring changes in light and weather conditions, I decided to document a full year and thus to record the seasonal changes in the landscape.” (Arlander 2007)
An intuitive exploration or experiment produced an experience, or material that produced an experience “here is something”, which made me continue with the experiments. The experience produced by an experiment does not necessarily become part of a work or the starting point of research in a linear or conscious manner. Often I do have a hunch, however, whether what I am videoing or writing will have “a future” as the material for a work or not, but my hunch is not always correct, and that is why I often continue with the process until the end, possibly “in vain”, as in this case with the wind and the paper ribbons. Mostly I nevertheless use experiences from a previous work in the following one; sometimes I even apply the same strategies and tools to begin with, knowing that they probably will not work in the long run.
My experimentation seems more like the first trembling steps or trial and error than a systematic experiment. The simple technique that evolved from the work on Mount Randa nevertheless resembles a rudimentary experimental arrangement in the sense that it is based on the constancy of a few variables in order for the changes in another variable to become visible. For instance maintaining the place of the camera and the framing of the image constant focuses attention on the changes in the landscape; using the same scarf emphasizes the changes in the force and direction of the wind. Randomness can also be linked to experimentality in this case. On Mount Randa I videoed always when the landscape seemed interesting, but later on I have chosen various schedules that emphasized random changes. I have videoed the same landscape for example for a year once a week or for a day and night with three-hour intervals and thus the changes in the landscape are recorded in a specific rhythm, regardless of my preferences or interests as an artist.
In claiming that the experiment on Mount Randa was the starting point for a research project spanning several years I am of course resorting to hindsight and storytelling, while placing events in a logical order afterwards. I could just as well claim that the time I spent in September 1999 in the Pyrenees in a residency at Centre D’Arte i Natura and the work I videoed there, Where the Sea begins, was the real starting point of the process, my first attempt at answering the question how to perform landscape today. And it would be reasonable to argue that my first video experiments during the summer 1998 in Ireland, where I placed the camera on a tripod and walked away from it into the landscape while writing the radio play Fairies already contained the seed of what I have worked on since, and what the experiments on Mount Randa were based on as well – a static camera, a landscape, a human figure and the passing of time. In other words an experiment produces an experience, which leads to a new experiment, which produces an experience and so on. To look for a particular first experience is mostly useless. Although the process looks like repetition it produces and actualises constant change.
But how does a working method like this relate to possible research methods? How can you develop your working method into a research method? In the article “Finding your way through the woods – experiences in artistic research” I explain what I mean by these notions:
“For my part, I understand working method to mean a more or less personal way of proceeding when producing art works. I understand research method to mean a more or less commonly approved way of proceeding in order to produce knowledge (or perhaps data) for a specific research community. What is their mutual relationship in my work? In performing landscape I try to show time taking place. While performing a simple pose in front of a video camera, the events taking place in the background, in the landscape, can come to the fore. By repeating this at regular intervals during long periods of time, and condensing the material by editing, the slow happenings, not discernible in real time, can be seen and shown. Could this working method and/or method of presentation be developed into a research method? - The answer is, probably, yes. However, the question is for what, a research method for what exactly? (Arlander 2008)
This is a kind of paradox of artistic research, which is particularly evident in process-oriented contemporary art. Many methods for art production resemble scholarly or scientific research methods although their aims are mostly different, not to produce reliable and generalised knowledge but to generate an experience, often an aesthetic experience. In the same article I describe my working method briefly:
“I use a three stage working method for performing landscape on video. First, I repeat a still act or a simple action in the same place in front of a video camera with the same camera positioning, at regular intervals during long periods of time. Secondly, I condense the material by editing: preserving the chronological order, but choosing only a fragment of the action and using various durations. Thirdly, I combine several video works to form an installation or exhibition in a specific space. For the fourth stage, I describe the work and reflect upon some aspect of the material (the videos, the working notes and the documentation from the exhibition) in relationship to some concept from another field and write about it in a research context. The still act, for instance, borrowed from anthropology and dance studies.
The above working method is, in itself, quasi-systematic. The data gathered by video documentation could be used as research material for a study in weather and climate changes, for instance. But they do not really say anything about performing landscape, except as a form of demonstration, an example: “perhaps in this way”. However, I prefer to use my artwork as research data, rather than as demonstration of research outcomes, perhaps because I want to go on “singing”. “In the artistic research experience studies experience, producing new experiences.” (Hannula, Suoranta, Vadén 2005, 59).” (Arlander 2008)
In recent years much has been written on artistic research, and the growing self-confidence of the field is reflected in the fact that various approaches and terms are accepted (Barrett & Bolt 2007; Allegue et.al. 2009; Riley & Hunter 2009; Biggs & Karlsson 2011; Borgdorff 2012; Nelson 2013). Artist-researchers looking for general academic credibility can try to fulfil all the requirements listed by Henk Borgdorff:
”Art practice – both the art object and the creative process – embodies situated, tacit knowledge that can be revealed and articulated by means of experimentation and interpretation. … Art practice qualifies as research when its purpose is to broaden our knowledge and understanding through an original investigation. It begins with questions that are pertinent to the research context and the art world, and employs methods that are appropriate to the study. The process and outcomes of the research are appropriately documented and disseminated to the research community and the wider public.” (Borgdorff 2006, 16)
These formal considerations are important in dissertations and publicly funded research projects. The way individual artists do artistic research, however, can vary on a broad spectrum. The case in my example, Wind Rail, demonstrates how research often begins informally and without planning. Of course I can see it as somehow connected to the research project on how to perform landscape that I was drafting at the time, but not in a structured or conscious way. My approach in this case is not recommendable, although it might be interesting to consider at what stage one actually realizes that one is engaged in researching something.
What was once only a small experiment among others seems with hindsight like a decisive step, perhaps partly due to these repeated narrations. An experiment and the experience it produced functioned as an impulse for a project, which later has focused on other types of issues. The questions that emerged in the beginning, which I discuss in the appended text “Landscape as a View”, have turned into nearly forgotten preconceptions.
Today I see these works as part of the discourse on landscape, nature and the environment within contemporary art, and their “proper” context would be the exhibition Landscape in Kiasma’s Collections (2007) or why not an exhibition looking at representations of nature more generally like Events in Nature at EMMA (2013). At the time of their making these works were, however, due to my work history, connected to questions and modes of working related to performances and radio plays. These works were presented to the audience as parts of a stage performance. And while writing I used them as examples of one strategy for performing landscape, often juxtaposed with a sound work created in the Pyrenees only slightly earlier, Murmuring Valley and the video installation Where the Sea Begins (2000).
I have compared my experiences of the landscape in Farrera de Pallars in the Pyrenees and on Mount Randa on Mallorca and juxtaposed the strategies I used for trying to perform my experience of the landscapes as well as the actual works I realized about and in them. I have for instance analysed my position as a tourist in relation to Marc Augé’s (1995) notions anthropological place and non-place and to his idea that travel constructs a fictional relation between the gaze and the landscape.  (Arlander 2003 a) I have also scrutinized my approaches in relation to the three paradigms of site-specificity in contemporary art presented by Miwon Kwon (2002), that is, the phenomenological, the social-institutional and the discursive notion of site. (Arlander 2006)
In the appended text “Landscape as a View” I compare Wind Rail with the iconic works of romantic landscape painting, two paintings by Caspar David Friedrich, which some spectators associated them with, perhaps mainly because I stand with my back to the camera. Friedrich’s figures depicted from the back (rückenfiguren) can be seen to form a continuity with works of contemporary art like Kim Sooja’s video work A Needle Woman (1999-2001) and works by some photographers of the Helsinki School, perhaps especially Elina Brotherus’ work Wanderer 2 (2004), which is a reinterpretation of Friedrich’s painting. Recently the critic Pessi Rautio, while analysing the wish of women artists to perform with their back to the viewer, finished by stating:
“The longest tradition for looking away comes from painting. The invention often attributed to Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) of using a human figure as a substitute for the viewer in the landscape. If covering the face and the eyes is ideal for denying the illusion of the meeting of the gazes, of a shared space, a figure looking at the landscape in the image can also take the viewer almost physically into the image space. This method has been used for example by Elina Brotherus in her photographs and now by Annette Arlander in her video work Steaming Earth…” (Rautio 2012, 19)
To place myself with my back to the camera has been, since my time on Mount Randa in 2000, more of a technical tool for creating an impersonal effect, and my focus has been on depicting the landscape and the time passing. In these first experiments, though, the landscape remains mainly a backdrop.
 The text is based on a presentation with the title ”Performing Landscape – a Body in the Wind” at the conference “The Human Body – A Universal Sign, Bridging Art with Science in Humanities”, in Krakow 7-12.4.2003. It has been published in the collection Performing Landscape – Notes on Site-specific Work and Artistic Research (Teak 2012), in chapter 5.
 The text is published in Finnish as ”Miten maisema minua liikuttaa” in Olli Mäkinen & Tiina Mäntymäki (eds.) Taide ja like [Art and Movement], Vaasan yliopiston julkaisuja Tutkimuksia 282, Vaasa 2007, 143-181, and in English in Performing Landscape – Notes on Site-specific Work and Artistic Research (Teak 2012), in chapter 11.
 Fragments of the essays Being on a Mountain and Being on an Island, which were included in the performance as voice-over texts, have been published in English as ”Moved by the Wind” (artist’s pages), in Performance Research, Volume 8 No 4. December 2003.
 “The ‘still-act’ is a concept proposed by anthropologist Nadia Seremitakis to describe moments when a subject interrupts historical flow and practices historical interrogation. Thus, while the still-act does not entail rigidity or morbidity it requires a performance of suspension, a corporeally based interruption of modes of imposing flow. The still acts because it interrogates economies of time, because it reveals the possibility of one’s agency within controlling regimes of capital, subjectivity, labor and mobility.” (Lepecki 2006, 15) See also Seremitakis, C. Nadia. “The Memory of the Senses, Part I: Marks of the Transitory” and “The Memory of the Senses, Part II: Still Acts” in C. Nadia Seremitakis (ed.) The Senses Still – Perception and Memory as Material Culture in Modernity Chicago, University of Chicago Press 1994, 1-18 and 23-43.
 Marc Augé distinguishes on one hand an anthropological place, which is formed by individual identities, through complicities of language, local references, and the unformulated rules of living know-how, where one’s location or position is known (Augé 1995, 101), and on the other hand non-place, which designates spaces formed in relation to transport, transit, commerce, leisure, and the relations that individuals have with these spaces (Augé 1995, 78). Nick Kaye has used Augé’s ideas to analyse site-specific art in his book Site-specific art - performance, place, documentation (Routledge 2000). I have discussed Augé’s ideas in Finnish related to another work, in a text called “Santa Marian suola-altaat – epäpaikoista ja performatiivisen tutkimuksen haasteista” [The Salt Basins at Santa Maria – Non-places and the Challenges of Performative Research] (Arlander 2012 a), which is published in English in the collection Performing Landscape (Arlander 2012 b).
 I have described Kwon’s genealogy in Finnish in the texts ”Näyttämökohtaisuudesta” [On Stage-specificity] (2004) and ”Paikkakohtainen esitys – tilannekohtainen teos” [Site-specific Performance – Situation-specific Work] (2009) and tried to think how these concepts could be used to discuss performances.
 The exhibition Steaming Earth in Muu gallery in the autumn 2012 contained the video works Furnas 1-3, Krysuvik 1-5 and Vulcano 1-3.