It has been a wonderful year with almost weekly Elements Labs. It has changed my view on the elements, opened my eyes again for the art of nature. I felt in love with the place and sometimes hated it when it was stronger than me and I couldn’t enjoy the beautiful view because the elements soaked or froze me. It was an impressive journey to an extreme place so close home. We traveled from summer to winter and back and missed autumn and spring. We were water bags and dancing body points. We scooped, watched, listened, danced and read. It was an expedition I would not have missed. Thank you Cocky and fellow students, Kenzo, Sattellietgroep and iiinitiative.
I stepped out into the world
As if for the first time,
The sun kissed my face
Asking for nothing in return.
The darkness that once consumed me
I found myself smiling
For no particular reason other than
I was here.
Video: Going Nowhere
I can feel a storm rolling in. The wind is blowing the waves flat and grey, like sheet metal. It’s picking up, the wind has a real bite to it now, truly warning us of what is about to come.
I sit here on a sandy cliff overlooking the sea, knowing my homeland lies just beyond it. The colours of the sea range from the cool grey of my eyes, through a molten brown until just before the horizon sits a strip of teal; so unexpected in this seemingly barren landscape.
I move through the beach, feeling. My feet bare.
They feel the texture, the temperature, the saturation, the grain. As I walk from hard sand to soft sand my calves work hard, my feet spread as they try to find a balance, a hold.
I move and am moved by the landscape. The wind pushes me. The waves pull me. The sand persuades me. By the changing textures I prefer smoother ground. By the changing gradient I prefer flatter ground.
The wind blows the sand onto my ankles; biting, snapping. Yet it is not painful. Simply a new sensation.
The shells beneath my sensitive feet are sharp blades. Yet they are not painful. Simply a new sensation.
The water runs over my toes, under my arches, around my heel. It is cold. But it invites me to join its rhythm. After a time the fresh hits of the waves feel like home, as familiar as my own heartbeat.
THE ELEMENTSLAB @ FESTIVAL DESIGNKWARTIER, THE HAGUE
The Satellietgroep presented arts and design, research and products that reflect coastal transitions, climate change and the human role in these processes. With Atelier NL, Theun Karelse, Elements lab of the ArtScience Interfaculty, Studio Nienke Hoogvliet, Aliki van der Kruijs, Waterpioneer & De Onkruidenier.
Victoria Douka-Doukopoulou summarizes the research in a video about the Elementslab of the past semester in het own poetic way.. The film was presented in de Tempel, Department of Archeology, Nature and Environment, The Hague.
Thank you Victoria!
At the Zandmotor, any attempt to sustain a philosophical thought becomes redundant; any artistic intention, misplaced and pretentious.
At the zandmotor, your pretenses fail. There is no space for you to hide behind, to cover and protect your self with. The wind is too loud, the cold too visceral, the distances too deceiving for your brittle mask and that which you make up yourself with in your daily social habitus.
You quickly realize that competing with one another is inessential; competing with the environment is simply comical.
At the zandmotor, etiquette is something you tend to lose as you go. There are no bathrooms here, no clean water; no shelter. Food and water you bring if you remember and warmth you find stumbling in an attempt to run.
Inadequacy is what your movement is stiffened with. You stumble, you walk slower, you shiver and estimate distances in a way that only a person who is used to short-sightedness does.
The landscape is vast and you so very small. Your sense of self quickly scales to become part of a homogeneous ecosystem, where one is as important as the other. You are no less valuable than the ocean; you are no more valuable than the grain of sand. You are of the same fabric, merely in different form.
But of course, such romantic notions are only rarely felt. There is hardly anything romantic about the Zandmotor, if not for its striking colors during a storm.
The cold is crippling. Motivation and meaning mockingly stay behind to watch you move around with that little bit of integrity that enables you to call this outing a class.
The Zandmotor is bare and boundless. And yet in sand, wind and water we find the essence of its expansion: the infinitesimal.
At the Zandmotor the horizon dances. Walk over a sand dune and you’ll quickly lose sight of the black specks that are your classmates.
Distances and spaces have a scale of their own.
Approaching the Zandmotor is a gradual loss of purpose. Why do I do what I do? Why does it matter? This place was here before me, and will be after me. Our interventions matter little. And if they do it is to remind us of our fragility, need for companionship and that ephemerality is at the base of our existence.
It is easy to lose your bearings here; and as you slowly gain them back as you re-enter society’s more visual constructs, you begin to notice just to what extent we have modified our environment to suit our human needs in a human scale. The Zandmotor is not so hierarchical.
The quintessential purpose of the elements lab is to then take you out of your element and into the Zandmotor’s. At times, a rather discomforting practice, but most importantly, a reminder for how complacent we have become in our planned safety, how we have forgot to intuitively and respectfully engage with nature and anything that does not fit our scale or schedule. The zandmotor has a time of its own. Emails and appointments become ludicrous here. Bettering one self and franticly huffing up the ladder of self-improvement and recognition becomes redundant.
You may however, sit and smile, ignorantly and simply.