Bennett refers to this ‘excess’ as the objects’ ‘thing-power’ and specifically how this produces affective forces which are contingent on the context of their encounter, creating an ‘assemblage’ where ‘objects appeared as things, that is, as vivid entities not entirely reducible to the contexts in which (human) subjects set them, never entirely exhausted by their semiotics’ (5)
As I documented a squirrel hop from the trees of the dale to a shopping trolley and then to overflowing binbags that had been dumped there, for one of my intermedial works, I experienced something similar – an excess, or something beyond the meaning of the waste as it attaches to human actions - but when I watch the footage again, the ‘thing-power’ is not as strong and, as a resident, I cannot get past the human context of these objects; their semiotics are stuck there. Jorgensen (2012) highlights the multiple uses of urban wildscapes, citing ‘drug-taking, sexual encounters and prostitution, joy-riding, dumping unwanted stolen goods, fly-tipping, rough sleeping, lighting fires, impromptu buying and selling of goods, squatting, play and exploration, building shelters and dens, tagging, gathering fruits and other objects, observing nature, guerrilla gardening, taking short cuts and walking the dog’ (7-8). These activities, as in DeSilvey and Edensor’s article, are to some extent celebrated as representing ‘a kind of alternative public realm’; an opposition to the ‘rigorous maintenance and surveillance [that] restricts the movements of things and people…replete with latent possibilities and greater scope for conviviality, experimentation and expression’ (DeSilvey and Edensor 2012, 478).
This is where the ‘wildness’ of human self-will and agency meets the wildness of nature, in uncomfortable ways. It is also where my researcher-self meets my resident-self and sees not shimmering ‘thing-power’ emerging in that encounter, but an aberration. Is it just that I am not seeing it the right way? Am I lacking an understanding of how this particular act of self-will is part of the ‘natural succession’ of the wildscape? Do I need to examine why the ruins of a child’s plastic pink trike are so much worse than the bricks of a ruined house? Is it the lack of picturesque moss perhaps?