The Crystalline (Frost II)

Can we do this, too — transform our transient stream of thoughts, worries, and hopes into something else, like frost transforms water into ice?

How do we begin? How do we get ready for it like water always is?

In Adalbert Stifter’s Rock Crystal (quotes below in the translation by Marianne Moore) the two siblings Sanna and Conrad get lost on a vast glacier in a snow storm on their way home in the Alps. Frost has transformed the landscape, and is transforming the children, too, to the absolute essential.

The boy maintains hope, despite evident hopelessness, and his little sister maintains trust.

At last they came to a tract with not a tree on it.
“I don’t see any trees,” said Sanna.
“Perhaps the road is so wide we can’t see them because of the snow,” said the lad.
“Yes, Conrad,” said the little one.

“Sanna, we cannot go over there,” said the lad.
“No,” said the little one.
“We shall just turn around and get down somewhere else.”
“Yes, Conrad.”

These dialogues continue like this, while the children spend the night on the mountain in the ice. Conrad and Sanna are becoming ice, too, Conrad refracting reality and Sanna reflecting it back to him.

Hibernation (Frost I)

Frost is usually an unpleasant experience for us, but I take the arrival of a much needed cold front here as an opportunity to look at its benefits.

There is for instance hibernation — and I don’t mean some form of revocable death, but a state of reduced activity of body and soul. Reportedly, bacteria in Antarctica have not only survived hundred of thousands of years in the ice, but stayed active repairing their DNA during the entire time.

100 Years of Solitude are nothing compared to this, and one year of covid should also be survivable, in proper hibernation.

The contemplation of beauty in the frozen landscape has become my personal way of hibernation these days.

Unintended

I thought I’ve done all of it: Forgot the camera, leave the battery uncharged, overwrote the memory card. And not just once. So I have become pretty good at double checking my equipment.

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I did check everything before I went today to take some shots of my beloved Pate Hollow trail in snow.

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What I forgot was that I had set the camera to take double exposures when I took photos for Wenckheim X. Back then, I had try to compose the double exposures carefully.

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Not so here. They are completely unintended. Of course most of the pictures are just trash.

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Some, however, came out nicely, when the subconscious effort to capture the atmosphere of the place superposes its actual appearance.

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I see this as a unique opportunity. There is no way to make the same mistake unintentionally a second time.

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Consistency

Two Lakes Trail is a 13 mile loop in Southern Indiana that took me 6 hours to hike today.

I met not a single soul on the entire trail, leaving plenty of time to think about place, time, and consistency. Now that winter is almost here, colors are not as vibrant anymore, and I like the distance this creates. It allows a strong focus.

I also like the concept of a loop, as a design pattern, a way to return to oneself, remaining consistent, but still transformed.

We are familiar with transformation through time (I can still feel my sore muscles). The transformation through space is more subtle, it requires to inhabit a place, and the only way to do this is through consistency.

Directions

As we can see, I am still playing with the triptychs. Water and trees provide the necessary support.

Support is also given by color, but the colors of summer are fading. Fall will be here soon, and then winter. Some of us will stay, some will leave.

Let’s have courage.

Verticality

While horizontally distanced, let’s use the freed time for a contemplation of the vertical.

The first two sets from today are, as so often, taken at the DePauw Nature Park.

I have arranged the 1×3 pictures in triptychs to further emphasize their narrowness by framing the depth of the center piece with contrasting walls. I find the effect disconcerting in a positive way, maybe because the obvious path is not necessarily the only path.

This last one is from my other favorite place here, New Harmony.

Mutual Attraction (Ohio IV)

The symbiosis of wood and stone is compelling, both in nature and in architecture.

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At first the timeless solidity of a rock appears to be no match for the organic softness of wood.

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But clearly the trees find stability, and hold on.

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Without the trees, this landscape would look barren, at best a symbol for an unachievable perpetuity, an abstraction, like a Japanese Zen garden.

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Sometimes, wood and stone seem to merge and become one, only different on the scale of time.

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Ascension

For the reopening of the Eskenazi Museum of Art in Bloomington, Elizabeth Limons Shea created the ballet Ascension to be performed throughout the building.

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The open architecture (designed by I. M. Pei) of the building allows for unusual gestures and views.

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The ensemble consisted of about a dozen dancers, performing in small groups.

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The display of intimacy with each other and the building was quite compelling.

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How much integration is possible? Art, building, performers, spectators, all one?

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