Contextual Research

Chrystel Lebas

"Stemming from her interest in looking at how landscapes contain psychological significance in relation to visually concealed histories, Chrystel Lebas employs photography and the moving image, to address a wider understanding of the complex encounter between man and nature."

Extract from Chrystel Lebas' book - Between dog and wolf.

"The forest is a fascinating space; one can feel attracted by its grandeur, or scared by its depth and darkness. This space of immensity echoes our childhood memories, through fairy-tale or play. Walking to the forest of my childhood, after many years, I remembered when we used to build a hut, and slowly the light would disappear, and darkness would surround us. The excitement of being inside this small shelter, protected by large trees, overturned our fears, and instead we felt protected." 

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'Between Dog and Wolf', Chrystel Lebas

"Walking alone in the forest recording close up scenes or tableaux, I attempted to reveal the hidden side of nature, the nature we have glorified forgetting its real harshness and purpose, questioning man’s relationship with the natural environment and man’s response to a lost wilderness."

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Chrystel Lebas 'Hidden Nature - Animalism 14' - 2008

Matt Collishaw - Albion

The Albion (2017) is a projection of the famous oak tree in Sherwood Forest, Nottingham, said to have sheltered Robin Hood. The trunk of the thousand-year-old tree began to die a few centuries ago and since Victorian times it has been supported by complex steel structures. With a laser scan and the “Pepper’s Ghost” technique, the projection of the oak appears as a living creature permanently captured by man to recreate the illusion of life. 

“My desire is to show the viewer how the time in which we live affects our perception of the world around us. These days, it’s difficult to slow down and absorb imagery of the past. Over time, our perception of paintings changes, not only because they become iconic, but because the media around us has totally changed. We don’t generally stand around looking at a picture that’s not moving, because it’s not that interesting compared to what else is on offer. I’m trying to reintroduce the concept of time to these works, to prompt the viewer to look at each of them a little longer and thus immerse themselves in the history of each picture.”

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Mark Wallinger - 'Orrery'

An ‘Orrery’ is a model of the solar system, a way of setting the moons and planets in motion around the sun as relative bodies in space, a model planetarium.

It makes you dizzy, mesmerised, a kind of swoon. It sets you in relative orbit with Mark Wallinger in his car with his phone, with the tree, the roundabout, with the spheres.

The oak tree on its island is a cameo of Britain destined to rotate in its tiny orbit endlessly. As the world around the tree revolves, the sun moves across the screen. This revolution of a municipal roundabout in Essex becomes a contemplation of the orbit of our planet around the sun and our place in the universe.

It’s a kind of mandala too – a circle held tightly within a square, with four gates held by a centrepoint, a metaphysical representation of the cosmos.

And in your gaze from the centrepoint, the oak tree travels continually across the seasons from leafless to green and back again, and yet is simultaneously held in each time frame in a ‘forever’ state. The tree is timeless and yet distinctive to each time period that is stimulated by light, the sun and the tilt of the earth.

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Installation view, Mark Wallinger. ID, Hauser & Wirth London, 2016© Mark Wallinger. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photography Ken Adlard

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Mark Wallinger Orrery (film stills). 2016. Photograph: Publicity image

One of the most striking pieces in the completely absorbing exhibition, is Wallinger’s new video work Orrery.

4 widescreen televisions face each other on four sides of a square, except it isn’t a square, it feels like a circle.

On each of the TVs is an oak tree in the middle of a roundabout.

And the oak tree has been filmed over the four seasons, with each of the distinct ‘times’ on the four screens.

And when you stand in the middle of the square, it is a circle because each film is an endlessly playing loop of a circle of footage – a circle around an oak tree standing in a roundabout.

Forest Bathing

This Japanese practice is a process of relaxation; known in Japan as shinrin yoku. The simple method of being calm and quiet amongst the trees, observing nature around you whilst breathing deeply can help both adults and children de-stress and boost health and wellbeing in a natural way.

But what exactly is this feeling that is so hard to put into words? I am a scientist, not a poet. And I have been investigating the science behind that feeling for many years.

In Japan, we practice something called forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku. Shinrin in Japanese means “forest,” and yoku means “bath.” So shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses.

This is not exercise, or hiking, or jogging. It is simply being in nature, connecting with it through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Shinrin-yoku is like a bridge. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world.

Shinrin-yoku was developed in the 1980s in Japan. Although people had been taking walks in the country’s forests for centuries, new studies showed that such activity could reduce blood pressure, lower cortisol levels and improve concentration and memory. A chemical released by trees and plants, called phytoncides, was found to boost the immune system.

Getting back to nature: how forest bathing can make us feel better - https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/08/forest-bathing-japanese-practice-in-west-wellbeing

FOAM MAGAZINE #57: IN LIMBO

IN LIMBO addresses our current state of being, suspended and in vacuum. This issue reflects on how we are experiencing the two main topics of our time - a global pandemic and social challenges - while looking at how this could be a fundamental chance to shift our questions on photography: stop asking 'what photography is' and start consciously talking about 'what photography can do' and 'what we want photography to do'.