AER 2016: Día siete

Día siete: 30/08/16

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They were told about the Internet, how it was everywhere and connected everything, how it was us. They were shown maps and globes, the lines of borders that the Internet transcended. (Mandel, 2015: 261)

The seventh day was tough to get started. I had been up late the previous night and thought I would probably spend the day going through recordings and logging metadata but soon into getting up I heard the diesel generator kick and decided that I would go out to record the vibrations with the geophone taking incremental steps away from the generator cupboard to record how the vibrations are transmitted over some distance through the hard clay surface.

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I took recordings from four locations ranging from 5m, 10m, 30m, 60m. At 60m I ended up raising the gain of the signal on the mixer as I wasn’t sure if it was detectable but it was so I returned the settings back. I could have continued farther but the route I selected didn’t allow too well for it.

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I came across some old constructions where at one point the site had been used for farming (I am assuming goats but need to find out more). Beyond these small constructions, were tributaries built to control the flooding in the event of heavy rain. I would dearly love to see how powerful a heavy weather event could be here, to watch the water flurry down the mountain side across the top of the dried, hard clay and shale crust and form pools in the valleys. I walk along one of these constructed routes, known as XXX for an hour and it reminds me of the Rebel Alliance’s Rogue Squadron practicing the Kessel Run in Star Wars. Small little canyons. After I begin to double back on myself I see that I have climbed up above the height of Los Gázquez across the valley and can hear the power of the wind turbine in motion quite clearly. I decide to set down and record the sound of the turbine from approximately 300m away. I am sure it is audible from even farther out too but the heat of the midday starts to catch up on me and I return back to the house.

On my way, I come across an old tree house, broken but once enjoyed. I climb up into it and manage to disturb a bat the size of my hand that must have been sleeping in the shade. It falls onto the timber floor of the tree house and scurries to the edge before flying off for shade elsewhere.

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In the afternoon I discover the headline news for the day is about Apple being told by the European Commission to pay 13m Euros in back taxes to Ireland as it is deemed that the level of corporate tax breaks the company had been receiving over the last 20 years was tantamount to state sponsorship. It is a huge moment in the news and relates very closelely to my project The Fields of Athenry, which will be exhibiting at the end of this week. I decide in light on this headline that it is worth me connecting to the internet properly and for the first time in a week, I connect to a WiFi network, that handshakes with a satellite terminal orbiting the planet before bouncing back to a satellite receiver somewhere in Italy before heading its way along the fibre optic cables that traverse the globe, towards the servers of various news outlets and social media sites, email servers and inevitable Microsoft and Google Android updates.

At night, we have two new visitors staying, a couple of Australia. Peter mentions that he used to work in optical networks. I don’t pry further but will plan to talk to him the following day and look forward to finding out more about his past career. They arrived and within 40 minutes they requested the WiFi password from their hosts. That’s modern life.

Questions

Those who were alive during the time before the change remember specific things about those days: the ease of electricity, the taste of an orange. What do you think you would remember most?

Note

The Art for the Environment International Artist Residency Programme (AER) was launched in 2015 by Professor Lucy Orta, UAL Chair of Art and the Environment. Between August and September 2016, I spent two weeks at the arts-led field research centre Joya: arte + ecología. This is my journal.

References

Mandel, Emily St. John . (2015) Station Eleven. Picador Pan Macmillan, London, UK.