Categories
Encounters Happenstance Observation Poetry rag-pickings Signs and Signifiers Symbol

We Can Only Be Onlookers

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The call precedes

the chorus of arrival

A delphian chant

from an ancient score

 

We can only be onlookers

 

Line

of the long

low

swoop

 

Ascending

 

over the Forth

 

Carried

 

on song

 

          – Fading                                                          – – faint

 

– – – far                                                                            – – – – beyond

 

Our horizon

 

We can only be onlookers

 

≈≈≈

Limekilns, 4th February 2018

Categories
Field Trip Observation Poetry Psychogeography rag-pickings

Impossible Textures of the Sea / Light Fizzles


On the last day of 2017, the impossible textures of the sea

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A full moon emerges

rises, observes

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Constant flux underfoot, new paths

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Sustaining coastal energies, wind, sea spray

changing colours of the tide

 

 

Cloud and sea  – a mirrored

chiaroscuro dissolving

the lip of land

 

 

Grounded exhalation

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silhouettes of breath

etched on the gloaming

A week earlier – 26.12.2017

 

Bookends of light

fizzle into folds of darkness

 

 

Half a silver lozenge, to pluck from the sky

 

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We leave it to the nightwatch(er)

≈≈≈

Taken from a series of short walks around the West Fife coast during the last week of 2017. Putting this together left an initial conundrum. How did I photograph a full looking moon and half moon less than a week apart?  I posted the question on Twitter and thanks to Portals of London (@portalsoflondon), Jennie Murray (@lithgaelark) and MAW Holmes (@MAW_H) for the clarification. Basically I had taken a cycle at 29.5 days and halved it instead of taken a quarter to move from half to full. (new – half – full – half – new).  However, possibly preferred Paul Kenny’s (@jmarmaduke) answer of alchemy.

Now playing: Ketil Bjørnstad, David Darling, Terje Rypdal, Jon Christensen – The Sea II

Categories
Found Art Happenstance I Remember Language of Objects Observation Poetry Psychogeography rag-pickings Signs and Signifiers

The Surface is a Zone of Encounter (An Assemblage)

I think that light makes material space … light is really the primary form of our habitation and makes surfaces come to life.

The surface holds what we project into it. It is an active site of exchange between subject and object.

Giuliana Bruno

 

Two sides of the border

Cleaved

Landscape

    of mark making

 

 

———->

Lines of travel

<———-

 

 

Whilst waiting

eye follows line

of divide    –  lit

spill      on surface

softening shapes

of solid geometry

 

 

Celestial movement in concrete

Cascade of perseids?

Constellations and star signs?

 

 

Whorl

Eye

Portal

 

 

From the atlas of green worlds and frozen seas

 

 

From the atlas of mutant landscapes

(Oracle?)

 

 

Where the striped fish, with no name, shoal in the ocean of lambent light

 

 

Emerging language: futurescape

(in process)

 

 

The point at which surface folds

New ecological imaginaries

Ambivalence of the non-human world

 

 

When the colour & texture of the sky triggers a memory of James Turrell in the Museu Colecção Berardo, Lisbon.

 

Dream:

High sun burns over thin snow. The very last snowball harvest.

 

New languages of underfoot

 

 

Spectrum edge

Light cuts

 

 

Interiors of darkness

Draped, infolding

 

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Out of darkness

a huddle of shadows

settle to stillness

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From the silence

quiet violence

of a whispered judgement

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.

Material Surface / Mental Space

Optic / Haptic

Interior / Exterior

Local / Global

Past / Present

Present / Future

Public / Private

Found / Lost

≈≈≈

Now playing: Lawrence English – ‘A Surface for Everything’ from A Colour for Autumn.

Reference:

Giuliana Bruno,  Surface: Matters of Aesthetics, Materiality, and Media (Chicago:University of Chicago Press, 2014).

Photographs from:  Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum, Koganei Park, Koganei, Tokyo; Meiji Shrine, Tokyo; Rosyth Station; Inverkeithing Station; Grounds of The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art; Abandoned railway carriage, Turnhouse Road, Edinburgh; Fife Coastal Path; Museu Colecção Berardo; Rosyth Churchyard; Lisbon; South Bridge, Edinburgh; Shinjuku, Tokyo; House Interior; Koganei, Tokyo.

Categories
Encounters Field Trip Found Art Happenstance Observation Poetry Psychogeography rag-pickings

At Crombie Point

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Ink etched blue silence. Cold harbour spires, sketched over cubist sails. Thorn pinned birds still tethered. Wings opening, sensing the sky

 

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The ruined pier at Crombie Point. (January, 2017).

Jules Verne travelled to Scotland for the first time in 1859. He arrived at Crombie Point on 30th August, following a three-day exploration of Edinburgh.

Verne along with his traveling companion and old school friend, Aristide Hignard, had boarded the steamship The Prince of Wales at Granton Harbour earlier in the morning. The ship sailed up the Firth of Forth passing Aberdour, Queensferry, Rosyth, Blackness Castle and Charlestown with Verne recounting tales of historical events associated with the coastal landmarks. Approaching Crombie Point, the weather turned violently against them with high winds and waves proving too strong for the steamship to moor at the pier. Verne and Hignard managed to transfer into a smaller sail boat to reach the landing stage safely but very wet. They were met by the Reverend William Smith, from Oakley, who ushered them into the nearby Black Anchor Tavern to dry out and take a whisky.

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What was once the Black Anchor Tavern, Crombie Point. Now a private house. (January, 2017).

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Beyond the door-less door. An invitation to enter. What lies beyond the threshold, the scattering of leaves and crouched shadows?

On the ancient whispering walls, the faces start to appear. Language of the stones, silent tongues ….

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And on this short stretch of coastal path, the receding tide and dying light coats Torry Bay in an emulsion of gun-metal grey. A vista of colour bleached beauty with a tangible undertow of concealed violence bleeding over the mudflats.

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In the middle of Torry Bay you will see witches rock. This rock was used to tie-up and restrain anyone suspected of witchcraft. Here the witches were judged and simultaneously sentenced as the tide rose. If they drowned, they were absolved of being a witch, but if they survived they were deemed to be to be a witch and burned at the stake.

(adapted from heritage interpretation boards located on Torry Bay)

More on the dark history of this short stretch of Fife coastline emerged from the Tales for Travellers Project which we recently participated in:

On Torry Bay the sky appears to expand to a grey cloak as we experience a brief rain shower. It’s a suitable backdrop for Kate Walker to tell us of the dark history of witch hunting along this coast in the seventeenth century. Zealous, self-appointed witch-finders, usually being local clergymen searching for those who had ‘danced with the devil’. They used an armoury of pseudo-scientific techniques to prey on poor, elderly, and vulnerable women, with their use of witch pricking and searching for the devil’s mark. The familiar power structures embedded in organised religion and misogyny. Kate recounted the tragic story of local woman Lilias Adie, buried face down in the mud on the beach, between the high tide and low tide marks as it was outside consecrated ground. Buried neither on land or at sea, huge stone slabs were placed on top of her; a folk remedy for revenants who were suspected of returning from the grave to torment the living.

≈≈≈

Now playing: Ensemble of Irreproducible Outcomes – ‘Trio and Sine Waves (With Wind, Snow, And Birds)’ from Memory and Weather.

Reference:

Ian Thompson, Jules Verne’s Scotland: In Fact and Fiction, (Edinburgh: Luath Press, 2011).

Categories
Observation Poetry Psychogeography rag-pickings Symbol

Lost coordinates

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Time adrift

Land, sea and sky under caul of ice fog

Lost coordinates.

 

Trace of an island? spectral ship?

Ah – foreshore shaman at the prow.

≈≈≈

Now playing: Kevin Drumm – Middle of Nothing (Part 1)

Categories
Field Trip Happenstance Observation Poetry Psychogeography rag-pickings

Settle / / Disperse

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Settle

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Settled /

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/      /

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/ Disperse

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Dispersed

ice blue hue of early morning /     / settled setting of frozen music /     / arrowhead stave aimed at the stars /     / rhythms inked on starless starlight [ crack crack – cacophony crescendo ] winged chorus sounded in flight /     /

settle /     / settled /     / disperse /     / dispersed

still /     / stilled /     / stillness

At Capernaum Pier, Limekilns. Early morning 21st January 2017.

Now playing: David Cross & Robert Fripp – Starless Starlight

Categories
Encounters Field Trip Happenstance Observation Poetry Psychogeography rag-pickings

Cut Curve Circle

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Cut

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the curve

…..and call of 

……….the coastline

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a cellular circle

……….an expanding

…………………….world

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Now playing: The Incredible String Band – ‘A Very Cellular Song’ from The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter.

Categories
Encounters Field Trip Happenstance Observation Poetry Psychogeography

The Foreshore Shaman

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Enter through yellow eye

into bird mind of

the foreshore shaman.

Come inhabit the spaces

between water

earth and sky.

 

How long have you got?

I’m just biding my time

sitting still, tuning in.

 

Listen to the wind;

wave pulse, lapping

on stone. Feel, sun

and moon movements.

 

Observe worlds formed

in rock pools, constellations

of barnacles, breathe in

sea salt air.

 

I see through reflection

beyond the mirror.

 

Sense the movement

that precedes

the moment, to

 

step forward

stop time, poised

with calm intent

to pierce the void.

 

In one movement:

from the depths

a fish –

……………….Ensō !

≈≈≈

Heron Shaman encountered at Black Sands, Aberdour, Fife, Saturday, 16th January 2016.

Now playing: David Behrman – On the Other Ocean

Categories
Field Trip Folk-Lore Observation Poetry Psychogeography

Coastal (Being and) Time

” ‘Nature’ is not to be understood as that which is just present-at-hand …”

Martin Heidegger

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It is difficult to convey a sense of scale.

Perched on the edge of a collapsed harbour wall, the vestiges break from the blue expanse ahead like a stone-flippered sea serpent, emerging from the depths.

At this height, the field of vision is a wash of blues and greens, daubs of cloud. Dark emerald maps trace imaginary continents on the sea floor; an atlas of time and tide. Drowned oceans, swirls of bottle green bleeding through ultramarine. Hints of International Klein Blue. As a couple of herring gulls swoop close by and aim for the water, there is a fleeting urge to emulate Yves Klein’s leap

A whisper of wind, pulls the gaze back to the horizon and acts as a useful reminder that to leap from this vantage point would be unlikely to end well.  I press my back firmly against the narrow, elevated ledge and watch the clouds scudding east.

Whilst we could be gazing out across the Mediterranean, we are looking out over the Firth of Forth at Seafield, just west of Kirkcaldy. The collapsed harbour arm in front of us is an industrial folly dating from 1899. The harbour was never completed and looking towards the banks of serrated rock teeth, just to the west, it is perhaps not surprising why. It is difficult to envisage safe passage for any vessel across this bay.

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We are also aware that underneath these coastal waters, subterranean entrails of hollowed out ‘black diamonds’ reach far out below the Forth.  Behind us is a landscape of absence with no visible trace of the Seafield pit which once dominated this coastline. Seafield was the last of the Fife coalfield ‘superpits’ and was one of the largest undersea mines in Europe. It linked up underground, beneath the Forth estuary, with its sister pit, ‘The Frances’, situated to the North of Kirkcaldy.

Preparatory work on sinking a mine shaft at Seafield began in 1954 with production starting in 1965. The pit was one of Egon Riss’s (1901 – 1964) modernist designs for The National Coalboard Scottish Division, which also included: Bilston Glen, Killoch, and Rothes, with Seafield and Monktonhall being completed after his death. Riss was an Austrian of Jewish descent who had studied at The Bauhaus and was acquainted with Oskar Kokoschka and Paul Klee.

Seafield just managed to survive the fallout from the Miner’s Strike, but closed four years later in 1988 with all of the above-ground infrastructure erased from the landscape in 1989. A relatively short industrial life of 45 years from conception to dust. Walking the landscape today there is no trace of the pit having ever existed. A new housing development sits up on the hill where Riss’s modernist landmark towers once stood.  As we consider the marvellous views that these houses must command, we alight on a tomb-like structure on the side of the hill, complete with what could be a memorial stone.  All is blank.

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At the time of writing, (December 2015), the COP21 Paris climate deal has just been agreed, which at least outlines an intent and ambition to secure a low-carbon future for Planet Earth. We can’t help thinking that, like the oft cited butterfly of chaos theory that flaps it’s wings and causes a hurricane in another part of the globe, the burning of the first lump of carbon produced its own unforeseen effects over a longer time scale.

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“It was my first acquaintance (1859) with the geology of Fife, and furnished me with many fresh and striking manifestations of volcanic phenomena – a foretaste of the rich harvest which the county was afterwards to yield in the same field”.

Sir Archibald Geikie (1859)

Our sense of human time, industrial time and earth-time is given a further jolt as we start to walk along the rock strewn beach towards Kinghorn. This part of the Fife coastline offers some dramatic examples of rock formations and lava flows dating back to early Carboniferous times of between 360 – 320 million years ago. The Binn (hill) which overlooks nearby Burntisland is believed to be the source of these lava flows.

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Any rock is an index of deep time. Liquid lava movement arrested by abrupt cooling. Intense heat solidifying, fracturing, frozen in time.

Inevitably, our stroll along the beach throws up some interesting items:

We wonder if we have come across the staff of the Spear of Neptune:

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Unfortunately a search for the trident is unfruitful.

On any beach, these days, there is always at least one tyre:

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A sea-smoothed anteater:

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and a rock pool submerged sea skull:

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We leave the beach and pick up the footpath that leads to Kinghorn. Up ahead we can see the outline of Seafield Tower with the outer wall remaining largely intact.

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For how long the tower will remain standing is another matter given the clearly visible fracture running down the middle like a poorly executed appendix scar. It feels as if a really strong wind could cleave the structure in two.

The tower is believed to date from the early 16th century and was the stronghold of the Moultrays of Seafield until 1631 when the estates were sold to the Archbishop of Glasgow. More intriguingly, a 1774 plan shows the enclosing courtyard walls and a circular tower at the NE angle described as the ‘Devil’s Tower’ although the derivation of this is unclear. The local coastline was known to be the haunt of smugglers in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Perhaps it would do no harm to circulate rumours about a devil’s tower to keep people well away.

Built of red sandstone, the tower has not weathered well and now resembles a crumbling, hollowed out old tooth:

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The Devil’s Tower?

On a day as radiant as this one, the tower doesn’t feel too devilish and the red sandstone softens the sun which is high overhead and beating down. This should favour one of the key reasons for our trip and we head further along the coast to see if we are in luck.

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It is fairly common to see seals bobbing around the Fife coast, but we rarely see them congregate together.  Today they are revelling in the sunshine, lounging on a series of rocks not too far from the shore. Occasionally, one will slide into the water and bob around closer to shore, clearly curious but feeling well protected by the aforementioned waves of rock teeth to discourage anyone trying to get too close. This is also a very quiet part of the coast. The railway hugs the coastline between Kirkcaldy and Kinghorn which prevents any access to the path other than by foot from either end. Even on a day such as this, with glorious weather, we encounter less than a handful of people on the path. There are the usual dog walkers who populate the entrance and exit areas but otherwise it is a remarkably quiet stretch.

Not surprisingly, the area is also rich in bird life. Oystercatchers puddle around the shore, whilst common gulls and herring gulls criss-cross the air in constant movement. Further out cormorants dry their wings, as if juggling a pair of  half extended umbrellas.  Our identification skills are insufficient to precisely identify many other species but the area is known as a rich haven for guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and fulmars.

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Above our heads, a bunch of swifts engage in frantic aerobatics, explosions of kinetic energy and zig-zag movement. In stark contrast, a grey heron appears to slow the world to a standstill as it descends from the sky. The silent movement of its wings dissolving time in a held breath as it gracefully glides to a halt.

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A more puzzling conundrum is the discovery of a still feathered wing caught up in some thick bramble thorns. Had the bird just inadvertently flown in to the thicket and become trapped or been attacked by a bird of prey? Or was it some totemic symbol carrying a message for the initiated or marking some form of threshold?

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As the path ascends to higher ground, it looks over some fairly steep cliffs and runs parallel with the railway line for a stretch with expansive views over the Forth and onwards towards Kinghorn itself.

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The presence of so many seals, earlier, conjures up visions of their close relatives in folklore whose stories pepper this coastline. As we look out to Inchkeith island we think of Kelpies and mermaids:

Kelpies

We eventually reach Kinghorn as the railway arches soar over our heads.

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Kinghorn will have its own post at some future time, but as we walk down to the harbour we are reminded that Pettycur Bay nestles under a prominent crag known as ‘Witches Hill’:

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≈≈≈

When the time comes to make the return walk back to Kirkcaldy, the sun has sunk low and we encounter no-one on the path. The landscape becomes more auditory than visual: the repetitive lip lip lip of a rock pool; the fizz of the receding tide. But it’s a low groaning drone that begins to fill the air. A deep and doleful lament rising to a eerie howl.

The seals are singing.

Is it a warning? a wake? Or do we hear the call of shape-shifting selkies, shedding their sealskins to assume human form …

We walk on quickly …

≈≈≈

Coda:

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Tired of dreaming

the sun slipped

from the sky

 

in the dying light

a fizzle of water

a settling of sand.

 

Now playing: Kevin Drumm – The Sea Wins

The walk was undertaken in late May 2015. Written up in December 2015.

Categories
Field Trip Happenstance Observation Poetry Psychogeography Some Questions of the Drift

The Desire Line of Water

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from source to sea:

the desire line

of water

rarely follows

a straight path

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Flux -> Flow -> Gravity -> Time:

all combine

with light, to reveal

the sounds and colours

of falling water

.

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All of the utterances.

From a babble of words,

a line of desire

occasionally emerges

.

linedesire4.

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Images from a walk between Kincardine and Culross and from St Fillans Churchyard Aberdour.

Now playing: Philip Jeck and Jacob Kirkegaard – Soaked

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