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We are surviving, aren’t we?


I am surviving;

aren’t I?

With every breath I take, I continue to survive and inhabit this world. I am an active member within my community and environment. In Breathe, the soundscape of different recorded breaths and breathing rhythms evokes this sense of the different ways in which I am surviving and makes me question: Am I thriving or barely existing? And in order to survive, I must breathe the oxygen around me, created by nature. When I look around at a Western, first world society; it is not only surviving, it is thriving.

I’ve journeyed to the centre of Christchurch park. It’s taken a while (as I got lost twice). But I’ve reached the hut with hay. I lie on the hay, listening to the recorded birds. I’m at peace with nature.

But it’s not nature, is it.

These birds aren’t surrounding me. The hay has been put there by humans. It’s not natural. This is a virtually constructed realm I’m living in. The real natural world is outside this hut in the park I’ve just walked through to come here. I’m at peace because I’m listening to a mixture of beautifully sounding birds I want to listen to. They could have been edited. They could have had their tone or their pitch manipulated. So that I feel a certain way.

Right now, I feel relaxed.

I’m beginning to think more and more about the future of the planet. I truly believe that we are on the brink of transformation. That if nothing serious is done now about our natural environment, we will face the extinction of wonderful, natural animals and plant life. I have no doubt that humans will adapt. We do it so wonderfully.

As my body sinks into the hay, I can’t help but think of myself in years to come perhaps going to a retreat such as this to listen to the birds that once existed. To relive the memories of a past I knew where I would walk on the grass and crunch the leaves under my feet as squirrels pounce around me.

Thinking about this…

I find myself back in Rhizome 2.0.

I find it peaceful to be there. I’ve been lured into the corner of the room to watch this woman watch a virtual forest space.

And a strange thing happens.

She pops off her mask and gives it to me. I put it on. And I feel… disorientated. I don’t know where the people in the room are and I’m so very conscious that I could walk into them. But I begin to notice things I didn’t notice before. Like how barred I am into the area I can walk within. Because this is the only area that has been recorded. I see a person behind a tree watching me. I try to walk towards him (I think it’s a him). But I can’t. It’s not been recorded. I turn around. I feel trapped. I feel watched. I feel judged.

I quickly pop the mask off. And I’m standing right next to the artist. I must have walked right into her. But I didn’t feel it. I was in a world of my own.

This is the fear. How constricted I might be in the future. The liberating natural environment that I am quickly destroying is being taken over by technology. Technology that is manmade. Technology that is flawed like humans. Technology that has its limits.

I am scared for our future. Of how our lack of environment will create barriers and construct societies that perhaps won’t question power structures, but will conform to survive.

Because we need to survive;

      don’t we?

-Michelle