THE MAKING OF SINGING TREES
Trees paint the topography in shades of green as the light dances through the branches, marking the transitions of a passing day. 73% of Finland is covered in forests. In numbers they are not to be ignored. One feels small in the vastness of their size. The depths of their community sprawls for as long as the eye can see. One can get lost in the whispers of the forest, & in the silence of those mossy paths. Ying & Yang are out to play in the light & in the shadows.
Saire, in her grace, greets us in this stage of the journey, awakening the inner peace & reminding those who pass through the forest that she awaits patiently in the shadows, lighting the path like a crown of stars in the night sky. She carries a knowing, power & energy that is of the Universe, holding a blissful smile that holds the cosmos in harmony & order & reminds us that everything is connected & is part of the one song of existence.
An intrinsic part of our mythological mapping during the Augmented Organism Project incorporated various roots of European fairy folklore. For Singing Trees, the characters & energies we worked with spoke to the environmental setting of this chapter. We had multiple presences involved in this section, such as Luathas the Wild (providing creative fires of energy), He of the Fiery Sword ( illuminates truths & is the Yang to the Ying) & most strongly Sairie (The Fairy Godmother) & Ekstasis (the power, energy & connected song that fills the Universe). These energies call on a position of peace & acceptance of all that is & all that ever will be. There is a deep knowing of existence, a radiating heart, & a rooted connection to the Universe, the Devine, the Creator. It calls on a balance, a harmony & a peaceful softness, like the setting of the sun, as Yang transitions into Ying.
Further mythological inspirations that supported the story of Necrosis was the archetype of the Crone, representing a gained wisdom, repose, peace, an attained magic, waning & rebirth. World mythology influences of this archetype include:
- Cerridwen, the keeper of the caldron. symbolizes the transformative power of magic, creative inspiration, wisdom of old age & rebirth. She is usually associated with the moon, fertility, prophecy, poetry & science (Celtic reverence)
- Lilith, Adam's first wife & guardian of women's mysteries. She symbolizes a reclamation of authenticity & the divine feminine power that stands with women at all times, knowing they are never alone. (Hebrew reverence)
- Badb, a shape shifter goddess that represents the cycles of life & death, wisdom & inspiration. She is a warrior goddess & whose energy helped transition Necrosis into Signing Trees (Irish reverence)
In addition to our main research areas, our main elemental focus for Singing Trees was wood & earth. These elements in combination presented not only a grounding but an extreme connectedness to the environment, rooting deep into existence.
PRODUCTION & PERFORMANCE PROCESS
From the very beginning, when we started driving to the residency on the arrival day, we knew trees were going to be a part of our story. Trees were such an important image as it was everywhere you looked in the countryside. You couldn't escape it. Ironically though it was the first idea generated as a chapter of the story, it was our last to shoot & the hardest location to find --maybe because of the tons of choices of forest areas around us! We biked down the road from the residency about 20 minutes & came to some thickets of trees. There we discovered the forest floor & experimented with the each individual tree made (which you will hear in the soundscape). We collected our sound & footage research &ended up the next week getting a ride in the Arteles car to another open forest location where we came across the idea of the "Stone Tomb" (Dark Lady section). We then drove out to an art show to the east of us (about an hour or so) & throughout the drive we saw so many areas of brown plots of land with cut down trees. This idea brought us to the section Necrosis. Location scouting at an outdoor land art space with a "manmade planted forest" (Tree Mountain) solidified the idea of Sky Dancer, as the trees got us to look up into the heavens. Looking back at it, the trees were the messengers that wrote our story, but when it came to the chapter spotlighting them, they got a little finicky. It took us two days before we left for the location to arrive. This chapter was another huge leap of faith in trusting in the moment. We were preparing during the day & the light was changing, so we jumped in the car to location with our initial light plan to be midday. It was well close to the early evening light by the time we headed off & we were behind schedule. There was a certain panic to get it done, but when we showed up to the location it wasn't working out. There was a big "no" it's not here. Problem was we had no clue which direction to go to find the "perfect" forest when the abundance of forests in itself would take us the whole month to find. We just got in the car & drove for probably 40 minutes or more down country roads. Again, we were calculating our routes in our head so that we could somewhat find our way back to the residency. This time Cy had a gut feeling to travel down this road & follow the sun that was now fading behind forests, which ended us down into someone's house & driveway. We quickly backed out of there before someone realized we were there. Traveling our of the driveway, we passed a forest, & there was a sliver where the sun was shining through. Jaz had a huge green dress on &couldn't move fast, so Cy took initiative to run in the forest to see if it was anything. Screaming came from the forest, which was frightening, but it was only Cy yelling "This is it, quick, this is it!!" We ran in quickly as the sun was dimming & our opportunity would be lost. We grabbed everything, climbing a hill, & walked through patches of wild blueberries & scratchy bushes. Further in we stumbled upon a little flat meadow in the woods that was covered with soft moss & grass that I could even go barefoot. It felt like a fairy world where even the mosquitos were being a little more forgiving. We set up fast, & took it in one shot. With this footage, we knew this was going to be our closing piece.
The general characterization, costume concepts, overall energy & effort of movement for Jazmyne was established from previous research, but also included aspects that were very in the moment. As far as costume, we added elements of nature & used colors & styles that would help the character embody this forest goddess. The costume pieces were collected in the local second hand shop, a women's second hand shop in Helsinki, & from some of Jazmyne's costume collection brought with her. The highlight of the costume experimenting was the crown --an antique chandelier bought in the local second hand shop. The energy of the piece was already determined, as well as the quality of movement (being heavily focused on slow hand gestures & body poise of wisdom). The framing & perspectives Cy's captures provided an intimacy of that space & moment, witnessing grace revealed & dissipated into the forest depths.
EXCERPT FROM JAZMYNE'S CREATIVE JOURNAL
"It has been a developing experience here in Finland. We weren’t ready for it until we arrived here. The nature drew me in on the first day. The nature is teaching me something everyday. It’s beauty is so present, so fleeting, impermanent, their for you to enjoy in that perfect moment before it comes to an end. The forests draw you in and entice you with their woody depths of green and mossy paths. It makes you feel that your adventure is particularly epic, that you are going on a sojourn that is much to the Lord of the Rings effect. It is truly magical here, maybe a common thing to say in the land of the north, the land of elves and fairies, but these worlds of magic seem to align with the world of the earth quite naturally. Today’s path made me feel that I was walking the woods that Little Red Riding Hood did, unsure if I should feel totally amazed that this fairytale feeling could exist in real life, or if I should be afraid of a disguised wolf! . "