Over the past 6 months I have been reflecting that we always seem so eager to have words to explain our experiences, to define things with language. I was involved in a project last year that become so profound in various ways that I just couldn’t talk about it for some time. Not because I found it too difficult to talk about, but because I felt to try to define it in words was to reduce its meaning. Some things are bigger than the limits of language.
So, I have been remembering to feel comfortable with not always having words to explain things, or at least to not feel eager to have to explain things with words before they are ready. Today feels a little like that but mostly because it was such an exhilarating day that I find it hard to explain. I eagerly worked over night last night into the early hours of dawn, so I thought I might sleep for most of the day but for some reason, after a couple of hours sleep I was up again.
I think I am noticing a pattern that when I am away from my family and working in this sort of way, I fill their absence with work, feeling that if I am going to spend time away from them, then I should fill every moment to make it worth the distance. So after a couple of hours sleep, I potted around in my accommodation, writing out plans for artwork to show the community here at the end of next week. Then I had a meeting to arrange to do a workshop in the local schools next week.
I decided that I wouldn’t do any projections tonight but instead would spend the afternoon travelling around with the various types of microphones I have brought and just see if I came across anything interesting to record. I really wanted to experiment with seeing if I could pick up any Electro Magnetic Frequencies from any of the large communication towers on the top of some of the mountains here.
So I headed for the top of Mt Mckay, the tallest mountain in the area. From a distance I could see that the top of the mountain had a light covering of low lying clouds. I started to get excited, thinking that if that cloud got heavier, then I could spend the night up there projecting video and pictures onto the clouds. It has been a dream of mine for some time to project onto clouds but something I didn’t image I would ever get to do.
As I got to the top the cloud was quite thick. It was still a couple of hours until sunset, I had my projector and generator in the back of the car but my laptop was back at my accommodation. Before I went back to get it, I decided to do some recording of the Electro Magnetic Frequencies emitting from the communications tower. I am interested in creating EMF compositions here because so much ecology has been altered due to the hydro electric schemes in the area. Extracting tone from that electricity, to hear the composition from an energy source that in a heavy populated and resourced world has such devastating consequence in its production and use, yet we are so tied to it, so reliant on it. What would its song sound like in this place? The melodic and rhythmic pulsating tones of electricity extracted with Electromagnetic microphones. What could it possibly say?
After heading back to the village to get my laptop, I drove back up the mountain. By now the cloud was so thick and so low that I got lost several times as I became confused on unfamiliar tracks. Eventually I made it and by this time it was windy, cold, damp and thick with cloud.
Luckily there was a hut on the top of the mountain which had perspex windows all around, so i realised that I could set up my projector inside the hut and project out into the cloud, protecting me from the elements and meaning I could project late into the evening.
I loaded all of my gear, the projector, generator, spare petrol canisters, camera, tripod, trestle table, laptop bag, 3 long extension leads, power board and torch into the hut and started to set it all up.
It was an amazing experience, although the village was just at the bottom of the mountain, I felt like I was hundreds of miles from any other people, hundreds of years from any other people. Timeless, edge of the world kind of feeling, brutal and peaceful at the same time. I could only see ten meters or so in the distance, the cloud was that thick and the wind was strong.
After slowly setting everything up, there was still an hour until it would start getting dark but I decided to start the generator anyway and see what I could make out in the low light cloudy conditions. To my horror, the generator which has never, ever caused me any problems, failed to start. I tried for half an hour but no go. I couldn’t believe it, here I was all set up in extreme cloudy conditions in a hut which protected me from the elements, and the generator wouldn’t start. I contacted a friend with mechanical knowledge and he suggested a couple of things, but still no luck.
While I waited, I turned around and saw that the clouds had disappeared on one side of the mountain, and slowly over the next 30 minutes, the sky was clear, just as it was getting dark. So, I didn’t get my opportunity to project onto clouds, but I feel totally fine about that. It was such a wild experience that I enjoyed so much anyway, that it doesn’t matter that I was unable to project. I image too that the mountain probably has those conditions often, so I am sure I will get a chance to try again.
While I was driving up the mountain I was thinking, what if I actually get to project onto clouds tonight? It has been such a dream for so long that maybe once I do it, that will be it, I’ll have to retire, buy that recliner I've often day dreamed about.
But for now, it isn’t to be, but one day those clouds will be mine.