The Final Video (4:14)
In the beginning of class Tuesday (September 22), we were told to split into groups of either three or four. As a group (Allison, Jess and Niki) decided that we would work very well together. In class we needed to collaborate on Monday’s homework to figure out a good final project for The Line. After spending all of class planning, we were given the week assignment to do three explorations for each of our members from three different categories: research, task and measure. We collaborated, planned and performed. We spent a total of 85 hours completing this project.
30 songs of Reflection (Task)
For this task we decided to listen to 30 songs each that first spoke to us and our experience/ emotions on the line. Because our section of the line was in the forest, we were highly affected by being around nature rather than a man made structure of a campus. While we listened to our 30 songs we wrote down our thoughts and our emotions as we took in our surroundings. This task generated a lot of deep thought and revealed things about the line and its affects on us.
The following is what we wrote during this process. Along with it is a small explanation from each of us explaining why we chose the music we did.
I chose my music depending on my mood and my surroundings. At first I craved a heavy beat and rhythm. I often crave this when close to nature because of the overpowering beat which moves through my body and into my surroundings, merging our movements into one. I then craved soothing soft music. Acoustics, soft melodies and complex lyrics is music I often crave. This is the music I feel is part of my sole, which has answers to who I am as a person. It is the music which overwhelms me in the most breathtaking and impossible way.
1. Undiscovered- Laura Welsh
The beat of the music accompanies the beating of my heart as I breathe in the woodsy air.
2. Haunted- Beyoncé
The heavy and haunted rhythm of the song reflects the cloudy grey surroundings.
3. What you need- The Weekend
The heavy beat relaxes my mind and body and gives me the need to close my eyes and just breathe in the soothing scent of my surroundings.
4. Wanderlust (Snakehips remix)
Breath in breath out I feel the beat through my body.
5. Boss- (Ryan Hemsworth Remix)
Breathing is deep and heavy as I feel an overwhelming peace.
6. Nara- Alt J
Calm. Heavy. Beautiful. I could cry. In Wonder. Breathe.
7. Nutshell- Alice in Chains
The acoustic guitars matches my mood and surroundings. The beautiful music with the combination of the cool air caressing my exposed skin makes me shiver. I think of how fragile life is and how easy it can be over or take a dark path. But then I think of the beauty it contains.
8. Oh, Me- Nirvana
I loose my sole in my surroundings. I’ve stopped thinking completely. Yet my mind is racing.
9. Somethings Always Wrong- Toad and the Wet Sprocket
Haunted and happy at once. Heavy yet light. Confused yet satisfied. Yearning…
10. Hunger of the Pine- Alt J
As the music builds so does my energy as I take in my surroundings. The base fills my body and I let it move through me.
11. Taro- Alt J
I close my eyes and listen. Soothing. Calm. Beauty. I smell the forest and my perfume form into one scent. I’ve formed myself one with nature.
12. Listen- Toad and the Wet Sprocket
I wonder. I seek. I find, I discover, yet I remain filled with questions and wonder. Always seeking the answers to the questions in me.
13. Low- R. E. M.
The depressing melody and lyrics match my dreary surroundings. Low, I sit low on the forest floor looking above me of what’s high. The sky, a solid murky white, stinging my eyes yet casting little light.
14. Country Feedback- R. E. M.
I feel tired. Down and low like the ground I’m sitting on. I feel so small in this big forest and big world.
15. Mississippi- Train
As the specific lyrics of “She’s the one that makes my dreams” repeats in my head, I have a faint haunted feeling.
16. This is the Last Time- The National
Move. Just move. It dances so graceful through my mind. I have to close my eyes. I can see.
17. Mary Jane’s Last Dance- Tom Petty
It picks up and I feel myself smile. “Got to keep moving” it says and I do. I don’t stop moving. Even when I’m still my mind is racing, never taking the break I always promise myself to be rewarded with. I think I like it this way…..
18. Wake Up- Three Days Grace
Acoustics are all I hear and it’s all I crave. Loud and soft. Harsh and delicate. I hear both. My surroundings are soft, delicate. My emotions are a harsh bombardment of everything as I take everything in.
19. The High Road- Three Days Grace
Pure need. I crave. Life is one big compile of desires. The victor is the one which is satisfied with the desires that were managed to be fulfilled and forgets the ones which remained unanswered.
20. It’s Been Awhile- Staind
“Everything I can’t remember” reminds me of my life and how so much of it has been forgotten. For some memories, the only thing that remains is faint imprints of emotion.
21. Outside- Staind
The lyrics haunt me and speak to me. I feel on the outside in the forest. It’s a mixture of sadness and relief.
22. She Looks to Me- Red Hot Chili Peppers
The beat picks up and so does my mood. As I breath in the crisp forest air I feel an overwhelming sense of relaxation.
23. Princess of China (Acoustic)- Coldplay and Rhianna
The subtle echo in the song makes me feel even more far away from the world I’ve already distanced myself from.
24. Mad World- Michael Andrews and Gary Jules
The lyrics are so depressing and emotional. I see the sad side to life but with it emerges this moving song, bringing a little bit of sorrowful beauty with it.
25. What’s it’s Like- Everlast
I’m struck by the lyrics. They hold so many stories of the harsh side of life. I feel a strong surge of emotion for these people I don’t know. These hardships are a part of life and makes us into who we are.
26. Put Your Lights On- Santana featured Everlast
A song I grew up with; It is a part of me. I just sit and listen. The calming forest and moving song has strong affects on my mind and body. Numbing me and exposing me at the same time.
27. So Real- Jeff Buckley
Lyrics which are poetry. I am moved and sway a little as I relax to the familiar beauty.
28. Losing My Religion- R. E. M.
I am reminded of my surroundings and how well the music fits into the soundtrack of my life.
29. Apologize- Timbaland featured OneRepublic
The heavy beat moves me. The melodic voice running through my mind awakes something in me. I listen as I take in my surroundings.
30. Building A Mystery- Sarah McLachlan
A happy ending. I give my body the beat it craves and supply my mind with the soothing lyrics that bring me happiness. I feel like moving.
I chose these songs spontaneously in reaction to each other. If one song made me feel uncomfortable, I usually turned to a thing that soothed me, other wise I’d increase the discomfort with a other unsettling piece. I wanted to heighten the emotions I was given on the line through the tones of my songs. Even though they vastly differ from each other, all songs are connected In a chain reaction.
1. System of a Down- I-E-A-I-A-I-O
When the guitar started in the beginning all the leaves shook. Because of this song I am noticing a lot of movement. Guitar and drums match with wind. The lyric “why” at 1:53 leaves shook. Finding that the leaves are really shaking now. I feel very aware of the wind. I am very cold.
2. System of a Down- Violent Pornography
I’m focusing a lot on the bright string next to me. The sun seems really bright. Leaves are not moving at all, but the ground seems to be lighting up. I notice a lot of little bugs. 2:12, the song starts to build up and and the wind is building up. Light seems not as bright at the end— maybe because song turns serious.
3. Meiko/Kaito- On the Rocks
Song is in Japanese, so the melody is what I focus on. I see a lot of wind on the ground. Steady wind movement through out. Background music is also like that. I feel calm, but I am uncomfortable. Tweeting of birds matches with revert in song. I feel a lot of synergy with this song. This song is about two business people letting loose and flirting to a jazzy tune. They are taking the opportunity at night to explore their inner instincts. the light has come back in towards the end of the song, which signifies the dawn thats happening after the night of fun.
4. System of a Down- Kill Rock and Roll
I hear all the bird in the beginning. Ground is slightly moving, but everything seems still, like it’s watching me. I noticed some leaves falling. Song seems to be going fast in this stillness. Wind moves more when I think this. Ending has a ton of wind.
5. Johnny Cash- Hurt
I’m noticing a lot of dark, especially in the tall trees. Their bark is extremely dark. Light in the sky seems extremely white. At 1:24 light is opening up. I notice everywhere around is getting more light through the trees than I. my legs feel sharp. Line feels less alive than in beginning. Feels like something is stabbing me.
6. Panic! At the Disco- Build God, Then We’ll Talk
Light is coming back, but the trunks of the trees still seem too dark. I feel the need to have my drink. I’m noticing more bugs around me. Tree I’ve been looking at seems longer than before. 2:06 wind starts up, it seems. Leaves look really fragile. Im noticing more bugs. As I notice more bugs the darkness seems to increase.
7. Touhou Soundtrack- (Letty’s Theme)- Crystalized Silver
I thought I heard a river. I notice tress in the background are moving. My spot suddenly feels uncomfortable, but cool. I notice the little leaves. I don’t feel much with the environment, just my body.
8. Sailor Moon- Rashiku’ Ikimasho
One blade of grass moves to the beat. Little weeds are moving back and forth. Rubbing bark, feels like my hands. I like looking behind me. I feel very aware and nice.
9. Sailor Moon- Sailor Stars Opening
I don’t smell anything here. I feel unclean. I accidentally made myself bleed. I feel like I have to move. These woods me me restless. I feel like I should be doing something.
10. Sailor Moon- Sailor Uranus/Mercury Theme
Forest suddenly moves because of violins. Everything is vibrating again, but it feels nice. Forest seems alive. I notice the animals.
11. Scroobius Pip- The Struggle
Pine seems really soft. I realize how many there are. The beat matches with the ground. Beat feels very alive and with the singer, as does the leaves. Before chorus hit I felt the forest stop. I feel connected to its movement. I am seeing a lot of things cross each other. I notice all the big trunks are and how big everything feels. It seems not alive now, but always moving.
12. Utena OST- Possession
Light seems like it’s opening up, but only above me. I know the forest isn’t but it seems bright. Everything looks like it’s hanging. The music feels like it’s hanging by a thread, threatening. It has intense piano. everything is top heavy.
13. Utena OST- Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku
Forest seems to be shivering. I am no longer cold in my chest, even though the cold hits me. I feel like I can move in here, but things might hold me back.
14. Gorillaz- Clint Eastwood
I notice a spider web has been in front of me this entire time. I’m starting to notice a lot of invisible threads (ghost in the song reminds me of this). Seems I’ve been clueless this whole time about the forest. I notice how many trees feel really log. People have showed up, I feel uncomfortable. I notice more of the bark and less of the little things, I notice another invisible string. Looking past weeds to what connects them.
15. Flobots- Handlebars
Forest seems really quiet. Only disturbances are the people. Things are moving, but not enough. Build up in song makes the movement forceful. A leaf fell in front of me and I feel unshaken. I crushed the leaf and it feels like it has so many layers. Did leaves always feel so weird? Different from tree.
16. Cage the Elephant- Shake Me Down
Light has returned. I think it feels like the trees are dropping. Trees feel like creatures. I am cold again. The light has not given me warmth here. I notice a lot of moss, a lot of ground. Feels like I’ve never looked at it before. My eyes are fixed on the ground, but lyric that plays is “I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the sun.” Suddenly the sun has appeared on my left. Seems not bright enough. Leaves are moving away like bugs. The dead leaves seem more alive.
17. Cage the Elephant- Come a Little Closer
Left tree looks like it wants to snap. Everything is shaking. Leaves are the rain. I wonder about the mystery of it all. The song is about discovery. I smell my scent and pine faintly. I still can’t smell much. Decaying trunk I’m on seems really red. Everything seems to have a new color, like I haven’t been looking at it enough. I think I assumed the color. I feel like the forest is making me impatient.It seems like it’s dying too fast.
18. Tiara ft. Hatsune Miku- Balloon
I feel like affixing myself to the sky. Sky only seems open in one place, seems like a trouble to get to it. I wonder about birds. Grass doesn’t seems dirty here. I want to get up. Seems something is here that isn’t a person, like a bug. I notice holes.
19. Gakupo- Rolling Girl
I don’t feel anything. I notice the wind. The wind seem to be touching me. I feel like I want to leave. I feel restricted. I want to run but I feel like I have no energy.
20. Serj Tankian- Lie, Lie, Lie
I feel like I could die here. My arm and my body hurt. I notice a tree that has been here this whole time. Everything seems dead. I heard something fall. Feels that I can’t pay attention to the details. I am being rushed forward.
21. Crush 40- Live and Learn
I’m watching the whole forest at once. Everything is falling and I want to find its origin. I actually smell something. I see green in my vision. Everything swirls in the forest and goes back to its original position. feels like it needs help changing.
22. Luka- Kau Segalanya
I notice new segments of a tree each time the beat goes. Trees look like they are built up and stacked. Everything feels like it was made. It feels soothing. Feels like this forest has a process.
23. Portal OST- Still Alive
There are patches of leaves. Everything is patches of life. Wondering when everything will die. I look very yellow, like the leaves. Am I connected to them? I want to go with the people I see.
24. Portal OST- Turret Opera
Forest seems to surround me. I noticed another string of a web, I’m concerned if I’m in a giant one.
25. Les Miserables Soundtrack- The Bishop
Forest brightness is back. But it’s still cold. Do I have to move to feel warm?
26. Gumi- Deep Inside
Beginning made me feel scared. Forest seems like it want to close in on me. Everything feels sharp. My hands feel inorganic because they are soft. I miss the wildlife. Notice it has left me since people are around,I feel distant, the line feels like it can only tolerate me when it wants. I feel like I’ve been blocking it out.
27. Marina- Almai Elegy
Wondering about how piles of wood have gotten together. Feels like it just moved. Forest feels like it has shifted. I think it’s coming at me. Feels like something is always touching. Nothing is singular.
28. Scars on Broadway- They Say
Branches seem like arms. This all feels useless. I want to climb the trees and look up. But that’s too much energy… this activity makes me want to sleep.
29. Go Princess Precure OST- The Faraway Land of Hope
The line seems mystical. I notice the birds. I am wondering how to get somewhere.
30. Disturbed- Indestructible
Trees are made really tall now. Makes me feel like I’m shrinking. The line seems very unstable and threatening. Seems like there are too many trees, which is weird though since this is a forest. Doesn’t make me feel alive. I feel very small. I am realizing there are a lot of trees, but little leaves.
The songs that I used for this exploration came up randomly through my Pandora station. The station genre was “Indie Rock”. If one does not know what Pandora is, Pandora is a website which allows its users to type in an artist, song or genre and get a radio station which plays songs with similar characteristics of what was entered. I would have used downloaded music that I had on my phone but I recently reset and lost all of my music.
This experience was helpful in expanding my thought process. By sitting in one place for nearly two hours, it forced me to be extremely observant of the Line and the forest around me. By observing closely, it allowed me to tie songs to the Line that I would have never before thought possible.
1. “2 Heads”- Coleman Hell (2:20pm Start)
The song has a twangy background beat which fits the feeling I have amongst the trees. This beat has repetitions which is similar to the visual beat I get when scanning past all of the trunks. It reminds me of guitar strings, the trees that is.
2. “State of My Head”- Shinedown
The statement “State of My Head” is a repeated lyric in the song. It really makes me think about the state of my mind at this very moment. I’m calm. The temperature is lovely and the leaves are yellowing and falling. Autumn is my favorite season, so being surrounded by the beginnings of it put me in a spectacularly good state of mind.
3. “Angel”- Theory of a Deadman
The song almost has an atmospheric quality to it. It makes me want to dance with my arms in the air and sing at the top of my lungs. It’s such a beautiful song. Closing my eyes and feeling the beat is necessary. The clear and lovely quality of air where I am sitting on the line adds to this atmospheric song.
4. “Renegades”- X-Ambassadors
The definition of renegade is someone who deserts or betrays an organization, country or set of principles. This relates to the line because the forest could be considered a renegade because it grows where ever it wants and doesn’t care what it ruins or upsets.
5. “Wake-Up”- Arcade Fire
The chorus singing parts have a great feeling to them. If the trees could sing I think they’d sing something like that and sway back and forth. They’d all sing in harmony and think that they have one another.
6. “Riot Van”- Arctic Monkeys
The song is very low-key and relaxing. There aren’t loud guitar or drums in the song. It sounds almost acoustic the way that it is played. It sounds natural, which is similar to the current surroundings line: Undisturbed and lovely.
7. “Lasso”- Phoenix
“Where would you go, where would you go, tethered to a lasso.” This is actually similar to our line because we are tied to it and devoted to only our spot in the forest. To answer Phoenix’s question, “nowhere”.
8. “Safe and Sound”- Capital Cities
This is actually very accurate to how this part of the line makes me feel. Our area has tall pines throughout. The amount of light which intrudes creates and aire of safety and awareness. If I were further out into the forest with other trees above my head I don’t think I’d feel as safe.
9. “Turn on Me”- The Shins
This song makes me sway with the trees. It’s catchy, but maybe only a once in a while kind of song. I love the background instrumental parts. “You had to know I was fond of you…” I am quite fond of this part of the forest.
10. “Steady as She Goes”- The Raconteurs (2:52pm at 1/3 point)
This is a fun tie to both the line and Mother Nature. I very nicely referred to the line as an “unforgiving bitch” last week. She is steady and she forever goes. Mother Nature always finds a way to remain steady and moving forward. Mother Nature is the ultimate adaptor.
11. “When Did Your Heart Go Missing?”- Rooney
My personal narrative for The Line… Need I say more?
12. “Fell in Love with a Girl”-The White Stripes
This music is has a lot of angst and is in high contrast with the forest. The chorus chant/screeching is most unpleasant.
13. “You Only Live Once”- The Strokes
The title of the song is true “yolo” for the trees around me. It’s more advice for me than them though because the trees could easily live for much, much longer than me.
14. “She’s Got You High”- Mumm-Ra
Being in the forest gives people almost natural high. The energy and vibrations that the trees give off are relaxing. They almost put you in a different state of mind than what you might have had before entering the wood.
15. “Home”- Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
The simple and most accurate description of the forest. The woods are home. A sense of wholeness over comes my being when I’m surrounded by trees. Additionally, the song has a very folksy feel to it. This helps relate to the forest because folk music just makes me think of the country and trees. Whistling is also a big component and is something that people do in the woods.
16. “Such Great Heights”- The Postal Service
The title of the song relates to the great heights of the trees which surround the very spot where I am seated. Besides this, the song didn’t give me forest vibes.
17. “Houdini”- Foster the People
I can picture myself grooving out between all of the trees to this song. It has a great beat. Once again another example of an atmospheric feeling. “Sometimes I just want to disappear like Houdini.” Some people go to the forest when they want to be alone or want to disappear.
18. “Now or Never”- Mumm-Ra
The artist whispers in the beginning similarly to how the trees whisper to one another. Through wind or actually doing whispering. It picks up and gets louder which would only compare to this area of the forest if it was thundering or if the siren was going off and echoing… or even if it was just super windy.
19. “One for the Road”- Arctic Monkeys
This song relates to the line more so when it’s dark out. I imagine this would be a song that one would listen to on the way out of the woods (our spot). It’s got a darkness to it which would pair well with an evening forest.
20. “The Stable Song”- Gregory Alan Isakov (3:29pm at 2/3 point)
The folksiness of this song is gorgeous with the forest being my visual stimulus. The song is a quiet, acoustic dream. It makes me think about my life and how far I’ve come. Or, in the same respects for the forest and its history.
21. “Your Protector”- Fleet Foxes
In the song it discusses nature. But along with this it almost seems as if nature is in the background. It reminds me of festival-woods music. It’s lovely with the line as a basis of comparison.
22. “Ho Hey”- The Lumineers
The instrumental in this song is wonderful. The subject matter doesn’t relate to the forest, but it reminds me of something someone might think of in the forest, or at least sing in the forest.
23. “Paper Thin Walls”- Modest Mouse
I like to imagine the walls of the line being “paper thin” walls of air. They are obviously not visible, but they are there. Within these walls and without, the sounds and things happening can be seen and heard.
24. “If you’re Wondering if I Want You Too”- Weezer
This song reminds me of something that kids might listen to if they came up here to party, drink or dance. It would make for a cool forest setting music video with snaps and choreography.
25. “In Transit”- Albert Hammond Jr.
The non-chorus part of the song with the guitars is a nice wandering kind of song. It’s calming and speaks to that atmospheric quality that I spoke of previously.
26. “Australia”- The Shins
This song is really chill. If I were to take a nap on the line. I would lay down and make this part of my playlist. It’s got a catchiness, but not overbearing. This song calms my head.
27. “Carried Away”- Passion Pit
The forest/Line carries you away from reality. The funky sound of the song makes me want to dance from tree to tree with my arms out in the air. It distracts my brain from reality or worry.
28. “Sweet Disposition”- The Temper Trap
The beginning is PERFECT. It fits the feeling that I get when sitting in the woods and observing the forest and the sun peeking out between the trees. Once again, a great example of atmospheric music.
29. “Whistle for the Choir”- The Fratellis (4:06pm at 29/30 point)
The simple quality of the song is beautiful with the simplicity of the wood/Line. The song is cheery. I would imagine this song being brought on a date up here and you were making a video montage of the whole date. Whistling at 2:30 is adorable.
30. “Indestructible”- Disturbed (the shared story)
This song is very dark, but it fits well with our ideas for the final project. Mother Nature is indestructible because she will always come back, not matter how destroyed. The song speaks to death. This works with our discussed theme because we wanted to work with funerals, souls and the embodiment of the forest.
An On Sight Visual Research of Death in the Forest (Research)
Death is something that people face daily. In the civilized world, death is dealt with memorial and care. It’s when one gets to the forest that the victims of death slowly disappear from the physical world with nothing more than a period of extended rot. The forest is essentially a cemetery for centuries and centuries worth of dead plant life. Animals may pass by and happen to also lose their battle to mortality, but they become just as unimportant as the dandelion or that season’s falling leaves. Death is feared by most humans, but plants face it with closed lips and without struggle. A tree might be struck down by lightening, or chewed apart by disease and animal, and yet, nothing. Death within the forest is interesting because it takes a form which many don’t have the opportunity to see. When humans die, they get locked away in a box to rot for the remainder of eternity, while trees break down into their most simple carbons in broad daylight below the bows and stalks of their fellow species. Plant can be argued to be stronger than sapiens simply because plants need relationships for the sole purpose of surviving, and they couldn’t possibly care less for the survival of their closest neighbor.
The photos taken show not only the stages of decay and rot within the forest, but also the settings and perpetrators behind the deaths of the living. All photos have been given the same filter to block out color with an off sepia tone. This tone was chosen because it gives an overall darker and uniform appearance to represent death.
The Spirits In the Trees (Research)
This research quest was inspired directly by the trees. Walking up the line, there is nothing else but you, your partners, and the wilderness. Sure, there is the occasional deer, but most of the time all you see around you that live are those huge, bulking masses or bark. You start to wonder, and, coupling that with the feeling of another presence, if the tree are alive as well. Not just an unthinking network of biological systems, but something that has a certain sentience like us.
We decided we needed to out source our information to the internet on this one, and this is what we came up with.
According to one source, tree spirits “are usually represented as a young woman, often connected to ancient fertility.”
In Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain culture, there exists such a spirit. Called Yakshis, this spirit is closely associated with trees, usually possesses a benevolent character, aside from in Indian culture where the spirit is considered malicious.
The list of spirits continues even further, with the Japanese cherry spirit Kurozome, to the Dryads of Greek mythology, and the Pi-Fang, a Chinese deity.
Exploring these three further, we found some interesting takes on the tree spirits as depicted in each culture.
For example, the Kurozome, or Kodama, has been identified in Japanese culture for an abundance of years. Simply put, “The Japanese have always known that some trees were special. For whatever reason—maybe because of an interestingly shaped trunk, or a sequence of knots resembling a human face, or just a certain sense of awe—some trees were identified as being the abodes of spirits.” The Japanese have always had close ties with the spirits, and this just furthers the oneness with nature. The Kodama, while perceived in popular films (like Princess Mononoke) as something innocent and cute, can actually be menacing when betrayed. “A kodama’s curse was something to be feared.” Kodama, while innocent tree spirits, live in balance with the humans. If hurt, they too, like a human, fight back.
The Dryads, to contrast with the non-human attributes of the Kodama, “were the beautiful Nymphs of the trees, groves, woods and mountain forests. They were the ladies of the oaks and pines, poplar and ash, apple and laurel.”
We would be much more familiarized with them for the similar tree types they represent, and much more likely to witness their spirits in the line.
The Pi-Fang is extremely intriguing, described looking like “a one legged crane that predicted a fire.” That would make for a much more interesting fire alarm.
The spirits are so varied, reaching beyond culture to something more important. Everyone is trying to figure out nature, and the assumptions, the spirits they theorize, all hope to achieve answers. With such differences in style, personality, and attributes, the spirits reflect the attitude of the forest perfectly. When walks into the line, a wide array of trees are revealed. There is no uniform type, no uniform shape. Each tree is different, has its own feelings. You end up wondering if maybe, just maybe, these spirits could actually exist.
Haunt The Line (Research)
Our research, while preformed in different means, has the central message of death, the occult, spirits, or just the supernatural in general. Everything you don’t want to see, you sometimes can’t see, mixed into one cocktail of unsettling information. We got this idea from the unsettling stillness of the forest, wondering if something else was there with us.
For this part we attempted to get hands on information, online, and inference. we craved information on the history of ghosts in Alfred or any known haunting grounds. The results were interesting… to say the least.
Even an extensive google search will leave you little to work with in terms of spirits. You get a few sketchy websites with god awful web design telling you that “Alfred University is rumored to be haunted by several ghosts.” The most prevalent story is of a “Civil War soldier who walks the hallways of The Brick, which was once used as a Civil War infirmary.” It’s unclear if the whole infirmary situation has been fudged or not… But we weren’t talking any of these websites to heart, we needed a live source. And what better way to find out information than to ask a librarian?
Through the help in the library, we were able to get ahold of Laurie McFadden, a supposed novice(or even expert) on the history of Alfred. After careful consideration on what to say (after all, we didn’t want to just come out and ask where the ghosts are), we sent an email concerning the occult in AU or Alfred in general. In result, we got… a response.
“The only thing that comes to mind is of students being certain the Brick is haunted. Always benevolent or playful spirits, never harmful. Not just one or two students, but consistently over the years.”
All these sites we visited before had created this atmosphere of unsettling darkness, terror, mystery. Yet the response we get on hand is that these ghosts are kind? It doesn’t match up, especially considering this whole ‘Civil War’ haunting. A normal person would not take to the assumption afterlife that perished then would be playful or mischievous.
To confirm this notion, we looked further into Civil war ghost stories, to see what the places are like that are supposedly hallowed ground.
Again, most of the sites were not reliable at all, including one extremely bad one which caused much amusement at its design choices. But of the information we could find (dubious sources aside), Most of the sitings were eerie. A former infirmary that used to throw its patients’ body part out the window for a later collection, haunted farmhouse, and even the infamous burial ground that is Devil’s Den. All of these situations were off putting, albeit questionable.
So why is Alfred different? Is there just a friendly Civil War ghost hanging about? Is it something unrelated to the War entirely? Is there even a ghost at all?
This researched ended up stooping us with more questions than there were answers. But isn’t that the mystery of it all?
For this experiment, we used our feet as a measuring tool. This may sound like a generic and easily done task, but we took it to the next level. As a group we walked from the endpoint down to the starting point. Every two steps I wrote everyone’s initial feelings or observations of the ground beneath our naked feet. I recorded these in my sketchbook to be typed out later. In total our journey was approximately 164 steps. With the information we gathered, we made abstract poems to represent our individual journeys on our part of the line.
From my experience of walking barefoot on the line I learned many things. The most obvious thing was that my feet are very prone to getting itchy. I also discovered that there is a lot more deer poop in the forest then I expected there to be. Another interesting (and relieving) thing I discovered was that pinecones don’t hurt that much to step on but rather sharp twigs do. All in all having the feeling of earth beneath my toes was really soothing and brought me closer to my surroundings.
From my experience, I learned that I can open up my eyes to new situations, even if in the beginning I’m nervous. Sure, I’m usually scared of what’s below me, being unshielded and left to my own devices, but this task helped break some of those barriers I had. By the end of it all I was mildly confused, but I wouldn’t mind doing it again, especially if we got our abstract poetry involved. In conclusion, I feel that this activity helped me open up my perspective on how to handle the line, and what lengths I can go to experience it all.
From my experience and poem, I learned that as long as you’re careful, walking barefoot really isn’t that bad. There are so many wonderful textures on the forest floor that nobody gets an opportunity to experience. I discovered that doing things out of the ordinary, like walking barefoot, can make you look at life through a new, and even clearer lens.
Lots of texture.
Rocks and sand.
Stepped on a maggot.
Can feel cracks in log (warm).
Lucky with pine straw.
Stuck on me! Ugh!
Right is cold from stone.
Pretty and dancing.
Twig in foot.
Big stick in heel.
Cold, bulging stone.
So freaking itchy.
My ankle, my ankle, my ankle’s on fire!
Intruding in foot.
Tree is an anchor.
So fucking itchy.
Not as itchy.
Crawling on leg.
Left foot itchy.
Momentarily at peace…
Stick in archy.
Mossy and wet.
Trying to balance. No success.
I’m thinking… numb.
Big stick in right foot.
Fuck you, pinecones.
Soothing, smooth stick.
Itchy and prickly.
Lots of sap.
Soft, dead leaves.
Pinchy and feels good to be done.
Stick under and hurts.
Lots of decaying.
Sticking into me.
Twigs and feels room temperature.
Moist and have to pee.
Feeling leaves a way I never wanted.
Stuck in my foot.
Poking in. No penetration.
Stepping on pinecone.
“I’m not stepping on moss.”
Afraid of the above.
Almost stepped on something threatening.
Sticks are uncomfortable to step on.
Thought I saw an animal, just a twig.
Wetness has returned.
Stick in ear.
I’m used to it.
Sharp in nail.
Instability and nervous.
Grassy, but no grass.
Stepped in moss.
“Where do all the deer poop?”
Wetness return. Uncomfortable as ever.
Wondering when this will be over.
Sharp, but bulky.
Sticks in face.
Can’t think. Too hungry.
Wondering about poop.
Something touched me.
Mush/ Uncomfortable/ Bee/ Fear
Face feels funny.
Hurts really badly now.
Happier now, grassy.
I fear next step.
Scared of poop.
Scared of dead things.
That was weird.
Ow, my big toe.
Dull pain under left.
Very sharp rocks.
Plant between toes.
Stick between toes.
Root under feet.
I think that’s poison ivy.
“Watch out for shit!”
Sharp under arch.
Cool and wet.
Grassy and cold.
Cold under left foot.
Right foot comfort.
Bendy stick and sharp.
Sharp, sharp, sharp.
My heel. Owy. My god.
Scaly and Sharp.
Squishy but not wet.
Lick That Tree
This task was done in a more spontaneous manner, something that we got a feel for once we were in our section of the line. We decided to explore the forest through one of mans essential senses: taste.
After each recording we took note of the feeling of the tree, the smell, the taste etc., compiling them into organized information. Our results followed thusly:
Allison- The tee has a certain sharpness to it. The taste was clearly dirt, made ever the more clear with the flaking bark on my tongue.
Jessica- The tree tastes like how fish smell, maybe because I perceive them to be caked in dirt. It was a sour surprise. I was made aware that I was licking a tree by Niki’s commentary.
Allison- We’re better off with the other tree, this one feels even sharper. Its textures are wildly more intense.
Jessica- That tree still smells like fish. The abundance of chips from the bark makes me nervous, I’m wondering the possibility of tree herpes.
Allison-I’m surprised the moss didn’t taste of anything. This was the strangest and toughest texture by far
Jessica- For a second I smelt the scent of Terracotta, the coffee shop. Then it’s fish again. I don’t enjoy this texture.
Allison- The texture was like fine sandpaper, which would have been a relief compared to the others, yet it because of this fact the fineness aligned with my taste buds and made it hard to focus on anything but pain.
Jessica- The taste of fish is still here, but the pain makes me focus even more on it. It feels queasy.This hurt a lot.
This task was created to make us discover the line in a way that involved a sense we’d never imagine using. The idea of licking a tree is not an appealing one after all. Unappealing or not, requiring one sense to give you all the information on an area does reduce all other distractions and bring out very raw emotions. Through our task we felt four distinct textures, four distinct feelings that can be said for just four trees on our line. With such a broad knowledge taken by only four trees, the mind wonders how much information would become known if every tree was tried. Overall, our horizons and depth have been explored.
The Daily Life- In The Woods (Task)
Among the ideas thrown around for our groups tasks’ was this concept of going up into the woods and camping there. but of course, this was simple solution to how to ‘explore’ the line, so we decided to—rather than toss the idea entirely—expand upon it. Let’s go out on the line, but let’s not treat it as some extraneous camping trip. What if we pretended that we were still back at our suites? What would we do in this new environment if we pretended it’s consistent with our normal routines?
Each of us planned out three activities that we would preform in the comfort of our rooms.
For Allison, the activities consisted mostly of beauty routines and one general, hygienic routine.
On the other hand, two of Niki’s activities were hygiene based, while the last was beauty related.
Lastly, Jessica’s activities were more mundane, day to day necessities such as folding laundry, doing work, watching tv. While none of these activities technically need to be preformed, they are common place.
The results of this task were particularly intriguing. Even though we were out in the woods, we felt a sort of normalcy doing these tasks. Being indoors does not need to happen to feel the same comfortableness. Even without the comforts of home, the line can be normalized, or rather, you can be normalized by it. It all depends on the time you take and the way you treat the experience.
Abstract Dancing On Line of “Walk the Line” (Measurement)
We measured the amount of energy that we got from the line from our surroundings. We decided that using the song “Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash, would not only be amusing but fun to dance to. We all realized that although the line takes a lot of energy from us we were sufficiently energized to abstract dance! We discovered that as we danced our levels of energy actually went up. Our dance moves became more impulsive and energetic. We began to have a lot of fun and really enjoyed dancing on the line! It would be highly accurate to say that the line is filled with energy!
Here are the full videos of us dancing on the line!
“Measure” is typically defined as ascertaining the size or degree of something using some kind of instrument or device. This was not how we interpreted measure for this exploration. A secondary definition was “To consider one’s words or actions carefully”. Considering this was a definition, we ran with the idea of doing a candid interview about the line. The video was done on cell phone and due to our lack in tripod, the resulting video was shaky. This effect gives the audience a sense of informality and activity to the conversation. While saying this, it is 40+ minutes of discussion and good quality audio. There are a few explicit slips of language but not saying them would be a censorship of our true feelings. The questions chosen were thought of on the spot and answers were not pre-planned. We wanted this to be as “raw” as we could because that is when real discovery and understanding could be made.
Through this experience, as a group we have made several discoveries:
—-We will NEVER use a cellphone for interviews again; only a camera with a tripod (to prevent shaking)
—-The line was not as terrible as we thought it was.
—-Doing interviews like this are actually a lot of fun and future ones are wholly possible.
—-Having small talk discussions are refreshing and not censoring is a good way to —-release.
—-Being surrounded by nature can evoke more thought than being in coffee shop or classroom.