Shock or surprise?

Returning to my walk in the woods after spending the beginning of the week at Holmsbu near Oslo attending an inspiring Artistic Research Spring Forum organized by NARP (Norwegian Artistic Research Program) and most of yesterday on the airport in Helsinki due to a massively delayed flight, I was surprised at the cold clear weather in Stockholm. The slush had frozen into an icy uneven cover on the paths with wholes and bumps and slippery slopes, and creating a crust over the snow. Now big snowflakes, almost like hail, were sitting on top of the icy surfaces like a coating of crystal sugar. I had relatively new shoes on me and they were slippery, so I used my camera tripod as a walking stick to get down the small slopes safely. The second surprise awaited me while sitting on the spruce stump: it was so cold that I had instinctively forgotten to remove my cap. This I realized only when I had already been sitting for a while and decided not to repeat the whole thing, and to accept the accent that a suddenly appearing cap probably would create in the final time-lapse video.

The second surprise, and a more dramatic one, almost a shock, awaited me on the top of the hill by the pine tree. Somebody had broken my swinging branch! Well, the pine’s branch, that is, the branch I normally swing on and hang on was broken (see image above) and the remains lay scattered on the ground (see images below). My first reaction was a rather paranoid one, that somebody had deliberately broken the branch to prevent me from continuing swinging on it, or even worse, in order to put a blame on me for hurting or damaging the tree. I immediately realized this was a rather far-fetched idea, and examined the broken branch. I could still hang on it as usual; what exactly had happened? Pieces of the branch were lying on the ground as if after a battle. Could it be that somebody had looked at the images online and then wanted to try swinging themselves, but had grabbed the branch too far away near the tip, rather than close to the trunk? Not very likely, but somebody might have seen my repeated footsteps by the tree and therefore decided to try it out, but was much heavier than me, or was careless with the branch. That is perhaps the most likely explanation, but in each case I have some ethical responsibility for what happened. Although the broken branch would not influence my practice in any catastrophic way I felt deeply sad for the accident and somehow responsible for it.

The third surprise I experienced when looking at the footage; it seems like I really do not know how to measure the camera’s white-balance manually and should leave it to the automatic functions of the camera to decide. I adjusted the white balance according the snow in the first image, and that works quite well for the second image, too, but by the time I was up by the pine the sun was out, so I should have adjusted the ISO, too, I guess. In any case the two last images are really yellow, almost as if recorded indoors. To make matters worse, the sun is shining directly on the last pine at some point, although you cannot see it in the image from the beginning of the session that I chose to use here.

On Saturday the weather was half cloudy or half sunny again, but this time I decided to adjust the ISO and the white balance for each image, and it seems to work better, as you can see in the images above. This time I also remembered to remove my cap. For some reason, however, the framing in the first image is slightly too low, so my head is almost cut in half by the frame – and my scarf has stuck in a weird position, too. But such smaller surprises, or nuisances really, are part of the game, the whole idea of working with repetition and difference.


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Annette Arlander


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