In the following text, originally based on a conference presentation in 2003, I describe my attempts at performing landscape as a view in the tradition of landscape painting, and discuss issues related to place and non-place or being an insider or an outsider in a place.  I will use, as an example, a stage performance called Tuulikaide / Wind Rail, which was performed at Kiasma Theatre 12-13 October 2002.


Wind Rail was based on video material produced on Mount Randa on Mallorca, where I was still working with Ramon Llull, but also experimenting with performing for the camera. Shifting from audio works to video, from landscape as environment to landscape as a view, could seem like a regressive step for a visual artist. For a person with a past in theatre, this move from words to images represented a step into new and exciting territory.[1]




In English the word landscape is associated with scenery or painting. In German and Swedish the words “Landschaft” and “landskap” are used for geographical and political areas as well. The notions land art, landscape art and environmental art all have different meanings. An important branch of aesthetics is called environmental aesthetics. One way of using the notions of nature, landscape and environment has been defined by the aesthetician Rolston:


"Nature is the entire system of things, with the aggregation of all their powers, properties, processes, and products – whatever follows natural law and whatever happens spontaneously.

Landscape is the scope of nature, modified by culture, from some locus, and in that sense landscape is local, located… Humans have both natural and cultural environments; landscapes are typically hybrid. An environment does not exist without some organism environed by the world in which it copes… An environment is the current field of significance for a living being." (Rolston 1995, quoted in Andrews 1999, 193)


Both of my examples involved nature and recording natural processes – water in Murmuring Valley wind in Wind Rail. As a human being, I was an organism environed by the place I was visiting. This was more obvious while performing and recording Murmuring Valley in the Pyrenees, and was probably also reflected in the subsequent, environmentally arranged sound installation. While performing Wind Rail on Mount Randa on Mallorca and on Harakka Island, I had a current field of significance around me as well; however, when on a solitary mountain or island and working with video and a single view, the word landscape, with its traditional associations with painting and looking, is more appropriate. In addition to that, the work was presented as a video performance in a frontally arranged theatre space. The main reason for speaking of landscape, however, is to accentuate location and view. These performances, even if edited and presented elsewhere, were made out of and in collaboration with the landscapes they were made in.


Often landscape implies seeing from a distance, however, and we might consider emphasising distance as incompatible with our being embedded in the world and being a part of nature. According to art historian Malcolm Andrews, a profound challenge to looking at landscape comes from the environmental movement:


"We don’t have to imagine /…/ what it must have been like to live in Nature; we are all too aware of our dependency on Nature now /…/ we feel Nature’s dependency on us. Landscape as a way of seeing from a distance is incompatible with this heightened sense of our relationship to Nature as living (or dying) environment. As a phase in the cultural life of the West, landscape may already be over." (Andrews, 1999, 22)


This is doubtless a strong statement, and here Andrews seems to agree with the ideas of Arnold Berleant, who has been influential in creating an environmental aesthetics of engagement, which is opposed to looking at landscape from a disinterested aesthetic distance. For Berleant, landscape is a lived environment, and experiencing an environment is not a matter of looking at an external landscape. He goes as far as to state that a landscape is empty and meaningless without a human presence (Berleant 1997, 18).




We could ask, what does “being in a landscape” or experiencing an environment mean compared to “looking at a view”? Can a video image express this difference when compared to a still image? Is not a video image like a picture, something to look at rather than to engage with physically? What about “being in an image”? Is a landscape without a human figure really “empty”, meaningless? Will the human figure necessarily turn into the main thing, while the landscape recedes to its role as supplement or background? Could a human body function as a “conduit” rather than an impediment when looking at a landscape?


Tuulikaide / Wind Rail – a small-scale video performance for two projectors and a performer – was performed at Kiasma Theatre in Helsinki only twice (12 and 13 October 2002). The press release described it as “a souvenir and a contemplation of a landscape, a series of romantic ’postcards’ and an attempt to make the wind visible.”[2] I used the presence of a human body to make (the presence or absence of) the wind visible. The video material was recorded in Santuario Nostra Senora de Cura on Mount Randa on Mallorca in November 2000 and on Harakka Island off Helsinki in August 2002. Both landscapes were video recorded with and without the body of the performer visible. The voice-over text consisted of two small essays, Being on a Mountain and Being on an Island[3], which described those places and played with notions of being in a landscape, being in an image and being on stage, respectively.


To connect Wind Rail to the tradition of artistic practice, I will refer to the ideas presented by Malcolm Andrews in Landscape and Western Art (1999) and use his discussion of two paintings by Caspar David Friedrich as a reference point.  Issues of time (experiencing the traces of 12th century Ramon Llull on Mount Randa), of place (contemplating the notions romantic, classic and cosmic landscape, as coined by C. Norberg-Schulz, by the sea on Harakka Island) and of metaphor (breathing and wind) are all relevant to the performance. Here, I will focus on the human body as an image (or symbol) and as a presence. Though I used my body only as a tool for presenting the landscapes, for showing the wind, it turned out to be a crucial focalizing element in the videos and also in the live performance.


In Wind Rail I used a human figure looking at a landscape. I video recorded myself performing in the landscape (standing in front of the camera looking at a view), and thus documented my performance. The main difference compared to my audio works was that this time I regarded the landscape as a view. I presented the material as a video performance for two screens and a body, a spectacle to be experienced collectively, and thus, again, emphasised looking. The landscapes were presented in a fairly traditional way as visual representations, even if the temporal dimension was emphasized by the use of video, by serialising and by repetition.


I made the first part of Wind Rail in a monastery on Mallorca. It was a side effect of my “real work”, writing a radio play with the working title "Viesti vuorilta" (Message from the Mountains), which I had already begun working on while in the Pyrenees. The first part of Wind Rail, on Mount Randa, was video recorded as diary notes, as a private souvenir, and only later planned as a video installation for two synchronized images. The text was added as a voice-over after editing. The second part of Wind Rail was video recorded two years later on Harakka Island, as a complement and contrast to the first part, and with a stage performance in mind. Thus, it was consciously constructed to evoke questions about the position and function of the human figure, either closer or further away from the camera and the spectator. The live stage performance in Kiasma Theatre could be considered as a presentation of the documentation of those two performances on Mount Randa and Harakka Island, respectively.




For art historian Malcolm Andrews (1999, 1) a “landscape, cultivated or wild, is already artifice before it has become the subject of a work of art”. According to him, when land becomes landscape, “works of art are not the end products, nor are they the initiating stimulants in the whole process of perception and conversion. They happen along the way.” Land is the raw material and in the conversion of land into landscape a perceptual process has already begun whereby that material is prepared as an appropriate subject for the painter or photographer, or simply for absorption as a gratifying aesthetic experience. (Andrews 1999, 3) Landscape pictures breed landscape pictures and visual prejudices, or, in the words of Andrews, “crucial shaping influences in terms of the way in which we privately respond both to our natural environment and to pictures of that environment.” (Andrews 1999, 1) 


In this relativist, constructionist sense, “the aesthetic value of landscape is not inherent in the spectacle - not a part of its ‘essence’ - but ‘constructed’ by the perceiver”. Thus, landscape is what the viewer has selected from the land, edited and modified in accordance with certain conventional ideas about what constitutes a ‘good view’. It is land organized and reduced to the point where the human eye can comprehend its breadth and depth within one frame or a short scan. (Andrews 1999, 3-4) Andrews goes on to note the importance of framing, since the “frame literally defines the landscape, both in the sense of determining its outer limits and in the sense that landscape is constituted by its frame.” (Andrews 1999, 5)


In Wind Rail the aesthetic value of the landscape was constructed; the images were framed in accordance with conventional ideas about what constitutes a good view. The images showed land reduced to the point where the human eye (both mine and later those of the spectator) could comprehend its breadth and depth within a single frame. And the frame literally defined the landscape, leaving the satellite towers on Mount Randa and the ship wharf visible from Harakka Island deliberately outside the frame. In both places, on Mount Randa and on Harakka Island, a single framed image created the impression of a wide space, emphasizing the sky and the sea, and offered “the opportunity for an apparently totalising view of a wide space, an experience no longer possible within the city.” (Andrews 1999, 16-17)  Landscape as a natural scene mediated by culture is evident in both places. Human intervention is shown by a stone terrace rail on Mount Randa and a wooden rail on Harakka Island. In the video from Mount Randa, the cultural memory of the place is further emphasized in the voice-over text. In the video from Harakka Island, the passing boats and the sound of vehicles and people accentuate the presence of the city cropped out of sight.


Video continues the traditions of depicting landscape in paintings and photographs and is dependent upon framing the view, even if new possibilities, like recording movement, come into play. The likeness to photography is accentuated in these videos. Movement in the images without a human figure is minimal. The camera is immobile; the framing remains the same throughout.




Andrews observes that a landscape can also be internally focused in relation to what is non-landscape – a human figure, a narrative element or “argument” of the picture, a theme or subject:


"Remove the frame, empty out the Argument, and the landscape spills into a shapeless gathering of natural features. It has nothing to contain or shape its constituents, nothing to environ, nothing for which to be a setting, nothing to supplement." (Andrews 1999, 5)


The relationship between Argument (ergon) and the accessory element or “by-work” (parergon) is interesting, since landscape was, for a long time, considered the latter. Andrews refers to Jacques Derrida, who questions traditional assumptions about the marginality of parergon and shows how porous the barrier between ergon and parergon often is. (Andrews 1999, 7) Within a theatrical context, a landscape (even as décor or scenography) is almost inevitably considered to be a “by-work”, a backdrop, a setting or a supplement to the performance. The spectators are mainly interested in the performers and actors, in the human beings. 


In the presentation of Wind Rail, images with a human figure were juxtaposed with images of an “empty” view, perhaps evoking questions about what is the main point of focus and what is secondary. Half of the images were internally focused, showing a human figure within the same framing as the “empty” view. The performer is standing fairly still in the images, with the main action being the movement of her clothing produced by the wind. Nevertheless, the performer transforms the images, both by doing what she is supposed to do, by catching and showing the wind, and also by reducing the landscape to a background, a supplement.


We could expect that a human figure would turn the spectator’s attention towards what she is looking at, the landscape, as the shepherd figures are supposed to do in picturesque landscape paintings. (Andrews 1999, 143) We could expect that the presence of a human body would facilitate identification, especially when in the form of a rather blurred silhouette. However, this is not necessarily the case. Regardless of the size of the figure, the landscape easily becomes a setting for the “main thing”, the human being, and recedes to its role as background and supplement, parergon or by-work, at least to some extent.




Landscape art has tried to challenge the conventions whereby the natural world is appropriated and processed into aesthetic commodities, that is, landscapes, either by searching ever more remote, pictorially uncharted areas or by refiguring the familiar. According to Andrews (1999, 129), the Sublime is one way of naming the experience of the un-presentable, the inexpressible, that which “subverts order, coherence, a structured organization”. He argues that, in praising obscurity and “the near loss of visual and intellectual control over one’s environment”, the notion seems quite opposite to the values of its time, the Enlightenment. (Andrews 1999, 132) Edmund Burke’s idea of a delightful horror includes being safe while at the same time on the brink of destruction, feeling the sensation of powerlessness. According to Andrews (1999, 134-35), this being both spectator and potential victim/participator is crucial to the full experience of the sublime. He finds that, the sublime is “that which we cannot appropriate, if only because we cannot discern any boundaries.” (Andrews 1999, 142) In surrendering to a superior power we acknowledge the feebleness of our powers to articulate. The self that is constituted through language is dissolved. (Andrews 1999, 142-43) Carl Gustav Carus, a pupil and champion of the German romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840), describes standing on a mountain: “…You lose yourself in boundless space, your whole being experiences a silent cleansing and clarification, your I vanishes, you are nothing, God is everything.” (Carus, quoted in Andrews 1999, 143)


Andrews compares this text to Friedrich’s well-known painting Wanderer above the Sea of Mist, Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer (1818). He notes that it is difficult to accept the man depicted like the other Rückenfiguren (figures seen from behind) standing on the summit as our surrogate: “We cannot have the sublime experience open to the figure, mainly because of the very presence of that figure”. (Andrews 1999, 143) The figure is not a conduit into the scene, as a marginal shepherd might be in a picturesque landscape, but, rather, more of an impediment. He is standing in the centre, dominating, and dressed as an urban gentleman; he is an alien in the misty mountainous landscape.


The Sublime as an intellectual challenge includes a sense of “the unattainable ‘other’ out there /…/ the natural world with its own ‘immutable laws’, careless of humans”, which is often rendered in storms, volcanoes, avalanches, that is, as “melodramatized ‘otherness’”. (Andrews 1999, 145) As opposed to this sensationist Sublime, Andrews refers to Kant’s use of the term to designate that, which cannot be represented - and to indeterminacy as a strategy to try to represent it. He uses another painting by Friedrich as an example. The Monk by the Sea, Der Mönch am Meer (1809) “appears systematically to have removed all motifs that might have acted as props, to guide the eye and determine the experience”. Its boundlessness, its “terrible emptiness” is a “portrait of near-nothingness” and the force of the sublime results from the privative character of the accumulated absences. (Andrews 1999, 146) Andrews links the Sublime to the experience of indeterminacy:


"The Sublime, with its emphasis on obscurity, vacuity and indeterminacy, destabilizes and disorientates: in terms of landscape art it seeks to represent less the objects that strike the viewer than the sensations experienced by the viewer." (Andrews 1999, 147) 

In any case, objectively portrayed nature is inadequate as a means of representing the Sublime. (Andrews 1999, 147) Andrews goes on to speak about Jean-Francois Lyotard’s discussion of the Kantian sublime in relationship to the avant-garde, but in this context we need not follow him further. The two paintings by Friedrich will do as a basis for discussing Wind Rail as an example of the relationship between a human figure and a landscape.




On Mount Randa I was relating more or less ironically to posters of Hollywood films with silhouette figures in front of fiery skies. The first working title for Tuulikaide / Wind Rail was Tuulen tuomaa, “Brought by the Wind”, an allusion to the famous film Gone with the Wind (1939) based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell, a film I vaguely remember seeing as a child. The aforementioned paintings by Caspar David Friedrich I encountered only later (as reproductions).


Prompted to perform the landscape via the astonishing changes in it, the constant transformations due to changing weather and light conditions from day to day or during a single day, my interest was perhaps more related to impressionists like Monet and his haystacks or to artists emphasising nature as a process than to German Romanticism. Without something moving in the wind, the landscape as seen from the terrace seemed static and immobile on video (except for the movement of the clouds). So I used myself as the moving element. The idea was not so much to experience the landscape “for” the spectator or to draw his or her eyes into it, but to show the changeability of the landscape, even within a static view. It is possible, however, to compare the two landscapes of Wind Rail with the paintings by Friedrich in terms of the role and function of the human figure without any claims to comparison in other respects. In these works – unlike some other works like The Shore (2004) – I did not begin by performing particular paintings. The comparisons were an afterthought.




In Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer (1818) a man stands on a rock above misty hilltops. In the video from Mount Randa, the landscape disappears from view behind a wall of whiteness on foggy days, but the image still retains it solidity by means of the terrace rail. The human figure on Mount Randa is standing off centre, not centralized and symmetrical like the Wanderer. Instead of a 19th century gentleman with a walking stick and the body posture of a conqueror balancing on a hilltop, we see a contemporary woman with a black scarf, a spectator looking out from a sheltered enclosure. Instead of a mountainous wilderness depicted as a sea of mist with a cliff as foreground, we see a cultural landscape down in the valley, partly hidden behind the rail of a man-made building.


According to Andrews, the experience of the Sublime in the painting by Friedrich is made impossible due to the very presence of the human figure supposed to function as a conduit for that experience. The human figure becomes an obstacle preventing the spectator from experiencing the indeterminacy of the landscape. In the video from Mount Randa, the human figure on the terrace impedes the eye trying to float out and above Palma Bay and the Tramuntana Mountains, literally blocking part of the view. The landscape is hidden behind the body. The position (with the back to the camera/spectator) and the act of looking out could lead the spectator’s eyes into the landscape. Actually, the human body draws the spectator’s attention away from the view, turning the landscape into a backdrop, a setting.


On video, the human figure is not openly posing, but, rather, moving, looking around. She is not only a subject looking down at the world below, but also an object being acted upon by the wind. The conventional framing of the view contributes to a more picturesque than sublime rendering of the landscape. The static composition helps the spectator to focus on the changes in light and weather conditions. The temporal character of video shows the landscape as a process and the human figure as a bodily presence.




The other painting by Friedrich, Der Mönch am Meer (1809), can be related to the images on Harakka Island, at least through the seascape. The images from Harakka are not as ascetic (deprived or reduced) as the painting. There is a dramatic inversion in the painting, where the darkened foreground, bright middle distance and deeper toned background of traditional landscapes are changed into a light foreground, a dark middle ground (the sea) and a lighter sky. According to Andrews (1999, 146), this “negative chiaroscuro” almost creates a photographic negative. Compared to the straight and low horizon in The Monk, the images from Harakka are rather picturesque. The diagonal curve of the path, the cliffs, the light wooden rail in diagonal, and its inverted angle in relation to the stone rail on Mount Randa, the tree to the left, the grass, occasional boats, offer plenty of details to look at. The human figure is prominent and clearly visible, even if sometimes in silhouette only, compared to the vaguely discernible shape in the painting.


The images from Harakka Island are less dramatic than the ones from Mount Randa due to the composition, the amount of details, and the changes in the light. To compensate for the lack of rigor in the composition, the dress and posture of the human figure are more strictly kept the same throughout. On Harakka, two positions of the human figure are used: one closer to the camera, the other further away. The larger figure is positioned to the left, as if looking at the view. The smaller figure stands more central and deeper within the picture space. The larger figure could be compared to the marginal shepherds in picturesque landscapes (though bigger), functioning as a conduit for the spectator to look out at the sea. The smaller figure, standing by the edge of the rail, draws the spectator’s attention through a more central position, becoming the subject of the image, even if the landscape is literally given more space. We could perhaps say the larger figure is performing the act of “looking at the view”, while the smaller figure is performing the act of “experiencing the landscape”.


The difference between the same image with and without a human figure is more prominent on Mount Randa than on Harakka Island, where the wind is visible in the vegetation and on the surface of the sea. The “empty” view images on Harakka are not empty without a human figure, but full of details. The final image, the white fog hiding everything except the dark shape of the rail and the tree in whiteness, comes perhaps closest to the idea of indeterminacy in The Monk. There is nearly nothing to catch the eye, nothing to follow and nothing to be seen.




Tuulikaide / Wind Rail was performed at Kiasma Theatre in Helsinki in October 2002 and had no direct connection to the above-mentioned paintings by Friedrich. The site – Kiasma Theatre – a frontally constructed theatre space with a steeply rising auditorium and deep red walls in the museum for contemporary art (designed by Stephen Holl) in the centre of Helsinki accentuated the visual character of the work, also referred to in the voice-over text.


The performance was based on two videos shown simultaneously as back projections, with the image changes synchronized. The stage resembled a “normal” scenography, with projections as the set. In this case, the scenography (the video projections) provided the main action. The live performer was a figure, a visual shape, and a presence complementing the images. The spatial structure of the performance was simple – I had one day to build the stage – a podium with a rail to the right in front of a large screen for two back projections. The two images next to each other were synchronized. The image in both was basically the same, with the presence or position of the performer providing the difference. The temporal structure of the performance was simple as well: two parts (or acts) with two sequences (or scenes) in each. The total duration was approximately 55 minutes. The first part included material from Mount Randa (c. 12 min.) played twice, in two different versions, and the second part material from Harakka Island (c. 15 min.), also in two versions.


The voice-over texts, two small essays called Being on a Mountain and Being on an Island described the landscapes and their past as well as the problem of how to perform landscape. They were written afterwards, to be used in the live performance. I wrote the first voice-over text, Being on a Mountain, one year later after editing the video, using several sources: my diary notes, fragments from tourist brochures (Morey i Servera 1999), paraphrases from Simon Schama (1996), biographical material about Ramon Llull, and an extensive quotation from his autobiography (Bonner 1993) where he describes his experiences on a mountain, presumably Mount Randa. For the text of the second part, Being on an Island, I had no diary notes to start from, but used the book Genius Loci by Christian Norberg-Schulz (1980) and his three archetypes of landscape – romantic, cosmic and classic – and added some quotations (Linn 1999). I wrote the text to mirror the first part, ending with sequences discussing being in a landscape, being in an image, and being on stage.


The first scene showed two identical sequences of the same “empty” view on Mount Randa with some medieval music. The second scene showed the same sequence with the performer in the image to the left and the live performer on stage in front of the image to the right, without music and with the text from Being on a Mountain as a voice-over. The third scene showed two sequences of the view on Harakka, with the performer closer to the camera in the left image and further away, deeper in the landscape, in the right image, and with the text from Being on an Island as a voice-over. The live performer stood in the same position by the rail on stage, on the far right, outside the images. The fourth scene showed two identical sequences of the same “empty” view on Harakka, with some free jazz type of flute music and without the live performer present.


The script for the live performance could be described thus:


Scene 1. Left and right image with empty view from Mount Randa, music (c. 12 min.).

Scene 2. Left image with human figure on Mount Randa, right image with empty view, text on tape (c. 12 min.), performer live in front of the empty view.

Scene 3. Left image with human figure on Harakka Island, close, right image with human figure on Harakka Island, far, text on tape (c. 15 min.), performer live to the right by the rail.

Scene 4. Left and right image with empty view from Harakka Island, music (c. 15 min.).


The performer’s position on stage was different in the first and the second part. In the scene with images from Mount Randa, the performer stood immobile as a silhouette in front of the “empty” view (creating an image double, with the human figure moved by the wind to the left), emphasizing the lack of wind on stage. In the scene with images from Harakka Island, the image with the larger figure to the left and the image with the smaller to the right created an illusion of the left figure looking at the smaller figure in the distance. This doubling was extended into a “triptych” by the live performer positioned to the far right on stage, outside the screen, next to a rail on stage, in the same position as in the images but looking at the red wall of the theatre, thus perhaps guiding the spectators to look at the physical place, or even beyond that, towards what could be imagined behind the wall. In the sequence from Mount Randa, the live performer became part of the video image, up to the point where it is difficult to distinguish between the live body and the image. In the sequence from Harakka Island, the live performer next to the projections turned into a separate image with a more sculptural presence.


On stage, the human body became a central focalizing element, a kind of ergon or “argument”, although unintentionally. The last scene, with the two “empty” views from Harakka, was supposed to focus on what was important, the landscape. Nevertheless, it functioned rather like an epilogue, evoking the absence (or after-image) of the human figure.




A video installation for four monitors Tuulikaide II (Wind Rail II), based on the second part of Wind Rail, was shown in the Telegraph of Harakka in July 2003 as part of the exhibition Year of the Horse on Harakka. Four monitors were placed next to each other horizontally, accentuating the horizon. The sound could be listened to with headphones only, and the different versions were shown simultaneously: 1) performer closer to the camera (with text), 2) performer further away (with nature sounds), 3) “empty” view (with music), and 4) “empty” view with English subtitles as text scroll. The four DVDs were synchronized in such a way that the image changed at the same time in all of them. In this version the function of the human figure was important as well, though less dominating than in the projections on stage, partly due to the smaller size of the images. An installation version of the first part of Wind Rail has not been properly presented, although my first idea was not a live performance, but projecting two versions of the same image next to each other, one with the human figure and the other without it.




The interesting question raised by the performance is the relationship between the landscapes and the human figure. Can a human body function as a “conduit” rather than as an impediment when performing landscape? What about the “empty” views? Should we take seriously Berleant’s idea that a landscape is like a suit of clothes, empty and meaningless apart from its wearer? Is that true for the images without a human figure? Are the “empty” view images on Mount Randa and on Harakka Island really empty? Or, is the human presence evident by man-made elements (like the rail)? Perhaps the human presence is felt through the mere act of video recording, the deduced presence of a camera? 


What about physical engagement? The activity of the performer (standing and looking) was not very physical. The body was more of an object to be physically engaged with by the wind. The end of the videos on Harakka (the third scene in the live performance) – with the performer walking into the landscape and out of the image – was the only reminder of the possibility of moving in the landscape, engaging with it in a more active way. Or, should physical engagement be understood more subtly? A fragment from the voice-over text emphasizes the blending of imaginary and sensory experiences:


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. But 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 question remains: Can a human figure function as a conduit rather than as an impediment when performing landscape?


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, by moving, breathing, sensing. Or - if that is how you are inclined - by 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 the stories generated by it? Imagine it as a site for dramatic encounters between people?


Performances are mostly enactments of human relationships done for humans. Within a theatrical context, with theatrical conventions, it is difficult to do anything else. The live presence of a moving and reacting being is something for the spectator to connect to or identify with. Though I used my body as a tool for presenting the landscapes, for showing the wind, it provided the required human figure, offered the expected live presence, and became a crucial focalizing element. However, the immobile body of the live performer was a figure only (almost a symbol), while the figure on video, paradoxically, was more alive and present. Perhaps the symbolic quality of the body is particularly poignant when it is used in a minimal way, not only performing but also performed upon, as in this case.


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 oneself.


Perhaps it is impossible to see the landscape if a human being is there, at least on stage. We could agree with Andrews (1999, 22) that it is irresponsible to encourage an aesthetical attitude of distance with respect to the environment. However, focusing on landscapes, even imaginary ones, could help us to assign value to the beauty of the environment, and thus support the need to appreciate and protect it.





[1] This text is based on a paper ”Performing Landscape – a Body in the Wind”, presented at the conference “The Human Body – A Universal Sign, Bridging Art with Science in Humanities”, in Krakow 7-12.4.2003.

[2] Wind Rail - a small-scale video performance for two projectors and an artist. The video was recorded during fall 2000 in Santuario Nostra Senora de Cura on Mount Randa in Majorca and on Harakka Island outside Helsinki during summer 2002. / Wind Rail is a souvenir and a landscape meditation, a series of romantic ’postcards’ and an attempt to make the wind visible. / Video and performer: Annette Arlander. / Duration 55 min. / Performances at Kiasma Theatre, Museum of Contemporary Art 12 and 13 October 2002 at 7 p.m.” (Extract from Wind Rail flyer)

[3] A fragment of the voice over text to the performance Tuulikaide - Wind Rail was published as "Moved by the Wind” (artist’s pages) in Performance Research Volume 8 No 4, December 2003.