Natalia 1st draft

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Exercises on landscape and sentiment.

From the moment I arrived to the Netherlands I became interested in using the studio as a platform, not only for producing work, but also for visually registering its process. The studio serves as a work place, as well as a live space where different social encounters happen. It now functions as a presentation for my work as well as a diary or notebook where I intend to understand myself. In this process of learning and understanding, I decided to study the relationship between landscapes and sentiment, -both subjects being constantly present in previous projects I had made-. This led me to approach that particular idea in different ways, expecting to see the dialogues or confrontations between each other, allowing myself to experiment and react to work through exercises and studies. Through this process I am seeking to understand the implications of personal or collective emotion on the readings of landscape and it´s transformation; to be able to outline the impact of landscape over personal fantasies and imagination; and to affirm the political incidence of individuality, intimacy and affect over public affairs and therefore over public space.

The first exercise, `Making sense of the “Ah” verse in our love songs´ is a wall work composed of drawings and printed images found in real and imagined landscapes. It metaphorically represents a story of a love affair half fantasied and half lived, originally written as songs, through tracing reinterpreted common imagery of tropical regions and space. This project began with only one wall drawing in which I mixed different landscapes (emotional and spacial) as metaphors of a relationship that never truly existed. As the project progressed I discovered geography that reminded me of that past heartbreak. These drawings initiated the using of the walls as visual diaries. I searched in image banks and made digital collages, which were then placed on the wall. Drawing and giving an image to a thought turned into a form of mapping my own feelings. I did this by appropriating and intervening with recognizable imagery, as a method of making a memory and a fantasy become visible and recognizable.

`Inadequate logic´ is a collage series of printed digital photography of landscapes with text, drawings, a juxtaposition of papers and different bi-dimensional materials. It reflects on the concept of inadequate ideas thought by the Dutch philosopher Spinoza, and the order and logic of urban and landscape planning. These collages confront Colombian tropical landscapes to those ideas of the straight roads and grids used in rural and urban planning in Europe and in the Netherlands. In this case, I am interested in the perception of safety, danger, control and power reflected over geographical territories and their inhabitants. I use texts and theory from within the discourse as instructions or guides for reviewing political and social events related to specific landscapes. Using examples in the texts and integrating my own collection of images and texts, I go over the conditions of landscape as a fundamental part of governmental imposition or lack of it.

“Songs to the sea” is an EP made of video-songs composed in situ in land reclamation areas of The Netherlands. These videos show the process of composing and song writing in these landscapes. It shows the difficulties of confronting climate or weather conditions while performing a music act, or even the inability to do so. For this project, I am looking for iconic landscapes that have been historically important in the process of the land reclamations in the Netherlands, such as the Hoek Van Holland, Maeslantkering; The dunes of the Wadden sea and the Den Helder area; the Beemster polder gained from the Zuiderzee and the youngest providence in the Netherlands, Flevoland.

I am in a process of understanding the influence of music in the way I materialize ideas, and exploring on the forms it can take. I am interested in coming in and out of the boarders that may delimit music from artistic practice, while at the same time integrating it as a medium of representation. I like to use music as a form of storytelling or as a fieldtrip report, where I can narrate what is happening in the space or what is going through my mind while being there. I liked the idea of having to confront expectations in regards of being creative while making a fieldtrip, of what is suppose to be good or bad music, good or bad song writing. I have also taken objects from each place, in order to create a collection that is also part of the visual diary held in the walls of my studio. These exercises are an on-going project that I intend to explore during the program at the Piet Zwart Institute, using the walls of the studio to construct my own cultural landscape of thoughts and ideas.

Relation to previous practice

In my previous practice, I have used music and song writing as mediums of representation within the context of my artistic practice. The use of landscapes as metaphors to explain emotions are present in songs, as much as they are part of defining cultural identity. These geographies involve a particular proximity to collective belief, to the framing of daily lives in a political, social and economical aspect, and to the emotional understanding of oneself within a broader special and cultural context.

The wall drawings part of the exercises regarding sentiment and landscape, are a continuation of the songs recorded and written for the project “I am not alone.” The latter is a music album made up of eight songs written as a result of heartbreak while traveling around the Caribbean region of Colombia. They narrate a series of fictional situations, using tropical landscapes as metaphors, lived by a non-existing love affair. These eight songs are a result of a personal process of song-writing and instrumental improvisation recorded with lo-fi homemade methods without any musical background education, from 2010 to 2014. Once they where sketched and recorded, professional producers re-programmed the instrumental composition creating a high quality recorded music album. These songs where written and played as a form of exorcising and communicating words and thoughts that where never spoken. They intend to portray the illusions and fantasies shared by two lovers in a fictional romance that never happened in reality. This album acknowledges and demystifies a silent love affair, and also publicly affirms it as real.

The other project that influenced the inquiry of landscape and sentiment, and also reflects on the understanding of emotions in a broader political and cultural aspect is “Apparitions.” This was a research project on urban myths and their political backgrounds happening in Bogotá. It has various forms of documentation such as interviews, diaries, fieldwork documented in video and audio recordings. The project was later materialized as a temporal mural in a local contemporary museum in the city. The mural is assembled by drawings and a black light installation, representing symbolic imagery picked and selected from the dialogue established with the people interviewed that lived and worked in the areas where these myths are meant to occur.

After reading the myths on different texts, I selected certain areas I thought would be interesting due to their historical significance and went to speak to the local residents. They related spiritual occurrences to political and social historical events that involved killings, suicides, tortures and deaths associated with drug cartels, passion crimes and social riots. I then drew 72 images that tell in a non-linear form those stories by using iconography and symbols.

I intended to do an exercise of physically verifying what isn´t verifiable. I went to the areas to have a sensorial experience, then realizing that those who live nearby could have a better connection with the spirituality of the area. I became amazed by how dialogue and storytelling could create all different kinds of truths and forms of belief that could then be portrayed as symbols and iconography in a cultural collectiveness.

Relation to a larger context

In the inquiry of sentiment or feeling I have taken Deleuze text about Spinoza´s concepts of AFFECTIO (affection) and AFFECTUS (affect). This text has served as a basic document in my research and it has a very interesting description that helps to relate one´s existence and being, vulnerable to that which surrounds us. According to Deleuze, Spinoza describes affect or feeling as the variations of the “the power of acting or force of existing of someone according to the ideas she or he has.” This power of acting or force of existing either diminishes or increases according to the type of encounters our body has with other bodies. Affection, on the other hand, “it´s a state of a body insofar as it is subject to the action of another body. (…) we can can only know [connaÓtre] ourselves and we can only know external bodies by the affections that the external bodies produce on our own.“ In the same order of ideas, Deleuze gives the example of the sun as being a body which affects our own body. This determines who we are, instead of actually determining what those other bodies may be.

I also find relevant to the understanding of an imagination permeated by certain visual memories of landscapes and spaces, what Spinoza calls “Automaton.” Deleuze quotes Spinoza´s by saying “we are, he says, spiritual automata, that is to say it is less we who have the ideas than the ideas which are affirmed in us.” In this regard, I find Gustave Flaubert´s title also descriptive of a particular contextualized form of feeling and imagining culturally inflicted as a “sentimental education.”

Turning into the idea of landscape and thinking of it in a broader aspect and not just as nature or scenery, I found particularly interesting its cultural perspective. “The interaction of people and place,” “culture of landscape studies is a culture of everyday actions and social structures, a culture that humans mold through conscious and unconscious actions, a culture in which power, class, race, ethnicity, subculture, and opposition are important considerations.” In these terms, our behavior and personality is socially and culturally constructed in landscapes. They transform us, as much as we transform them. We can acknowledge the effects of the surroundings over our body; these become interiorized by individuals and then transcend collectively. Thus reflecting an emotional affection and revealing, at the same time, “the effects of individuals and local subcultures as well as national, dominant cultural values.” (Underlined out of text)

In this regard, the study of emotional geographies are form of approaching the materialization of the concern of emotion as a political affair -taking public space, urban and rural planning as such-. “Al though both affectual and emotional geographies attempt to attend to the intractable silencing of emotions in social research and public life, the field of emotional geographies is the location of the recovery work that embraces embodied experience and the political materialities that resonate form and that are formed through emotions.” How can we translate our individualities and emotions into a form that they might have a political incidence on how we sense the world we live in? When is our stories part of a broader history? When will our personal emotions and imaginations be taken as part of a cultural construct? Who will validate them as such?

This is also time related and therefore, memory and history related. Our memory is composed of images that create connections from one place to the other in non-linear forms. Our imagination goes from one place to another without an order, bringing things up and creating parallel lives up. Doesn´t it? Memories situate in particular landscapes and personal interpretation integrates information into one´s live, then communicated to others. The text “Darwin´s Emotions, the scientific self and the sentiment of Objectivity”, comes to a conclusion about objectivity “(…) indeed being a form of feeling.” How can we separate an object of study from our subjectivity? What type of bodily reaction or rational effort do we have to make in order to make an objective study of something?

I felt the need to relay on how sentiment and landscape were theoretically treated. Not only to help me understand my subjects of study, also to use texts as guides or clues for production by re-appropriating and putting into practice some of the examples used. For instance, in the on-going project of collages regarding safety and danger as considerations for urban planning, I have taken as an example to create parallels between the Netherlands and Colombia, the text “A roman Road in the Dutch Republic,” by Jaap Evert Abrahamse. While reading this publication, I started remembering the Colombian roads and how safety has been part of a broader political discourse used by politicians in power. The use of dark rural intercity roads for drug cartels to throw bodies; or even the concept of “Democratic Security” built by the ex President Alvaro Uribe Vélez, have taken part in the political and social history of roads in Colombia. This parallel of the Renaissance principals in road planning, the straight, broad lines to maintain security for travelers and the versatility of curved road plus the lack of institutional presence and violence in Colombia, immediately came to my mind.


ARTISTS REFERENCES Research strands Consider the possibilities open to you and where you would take your work in the near future (resource: here you can draw on the texts from the interviews and from the session using Jstor) This project has made me become interested in walls as visual diary platforms, into which I can place objects, images, text, video, and others, while researching and experimenting on a particular subject. here, walls act as platforms of study and documentation of process. These collages will be part of a broader group of studies. I am eager to see how these can discursive relation and react to each other as a whole. I am interested in seeing patterns, contradictions and failures. This project too is part of an exploration of the relationship between landscape and sentiment. Therefore, I am interested in the communication it creates with the other exercises I am making. Besides these exercises, I am also excited to see if the demos and ideas for the songs can become a piece of music or if it works just as a video EP. Conclusion References A list of references (Remember that dictionaries, encyclopedias and wikipedia are not references to be listed. These are starting points that should lead to more substantial texts and practices.) The references need to be formatted according to the Harvard method. See: