Secret Hotel

Spring news 2016

After my last blog post, spring turned into to summer, and in a glimpse of an eye, summer gave way to autumn, autumn quickly became winter, and now my little Nordic country is in spring mood again, with blooming windflowers and days of constant rain-sun-rain-sun-rain…

In all this time, things have happened. Jobs. Workshops. Travels. New encounters. I have become a mother. A newborn life has enriched and transformed the aesthetics of my everyday into tiny sensations. Baby-sensations. A world of experience and learning. A full-full-full-time job.

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Little Iris and mother Lotus enjoying spring time

But Sensescapes is not far away, neither dead – only resting, like a sprout in the soil, and I am waiting with eager curiosity for time to be ripe for new actions and reactions in the field of landscapes and senses.

Here’s a reflection of one of the activities done in 2015:

Sensescapes as Experimental Anthropology 

A Sensescapes workshop was facilitated in April ’15, as part of a one-day’s programme in Secret Hotel, on the old farm in Mols Bjerge. The participants were a small group of Master students from a course in Experimental Anthropology, Aarhus University, and their teacher. The workshop was intended as an experiment of Experimental Anthropology in itself, investigating the potential of adding the role of an observer to the usual blindfolding exercise of a guide leading a blindfolded participant in a given landscape.

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Introducing ways of guiding. Photo: Secret Hotel

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Observer (left), guide (in the middle) and blindfolded. Photo: Secret Hotel

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Guide (left), blindfolded (in the middle) and observer. Photo: Secret Hotel

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Guide (at the back), blindfolded (in the middle) and observer (in front). Photo: Secret Hotel

With observers as part of the one-on-one practice, a radical shift was created in the character of the concept as I have facilitated it before. First of all, two became three, which makes the relational side of the practice more complicated. But more important, the active bodily sensation of the landscape, performed and experienced by the duo of blindfolded and guide, was now accompanied by a more passive third body, who followed the couple closely and silently.

As the photos show, the observers seem to take a specific position in their engagement with the surroundings. Hands stored away in pockets, bodies standing or walking upright. Yet their eyes carefully follow every action of the investigating couple. Perhaps a tension between intense observation and intense blindfolded sensation was created. Perhaps a double layer of reflection was established. The duo knew that they where being observed, and the observers knew that they knew.

In response to the exercise, I asked each participant in the workshop to share three words describing their experience. Now, an example from this feedback session can open a reflection in relation to the development of the practice of Sensescapes so far:

Lotus: “Write down the first three words that come to your mind, describing your immediate impression of what we just did. Read them out loud to us.”

Blindfolded participant: “Childlike. Playfulness. Trust.”

Guide: “Vision. Responsibility. Inventiveness.”

 

When I asked the participants to explain their feedback keywords in plenum, it appeared that all the participants, including the observers, has found the workshop fun and interesting. Even if it could feel a little awkward and perhaps slightly intimidating, the observers, felt they had been part of the exercise as well, and they had felt inspired by what they had seen. Thus, a general feedback from the whole group was how they wanted to do something like this again.

Now, if blindfolding can be a direct door to multisensorial encounters with a landscape, how can an embodied position of ONLY seeing contribute to the multisensorial space of here-and-now? In other words: why add an observer in the practice?

For me as the facilitator, the short experiment became a successful statement of how observation cannot and should not be separated from sensation. By seeing, the observer, too, is sensing. Only it is a different sensation, just like the sensation of an audience in a play is different from the sensation of the actors on stage. Still, they are all contributing to the event as a whole. By attaching observers to each couple of blindfolded/guiding explorers, the overall sensescape was not decreased, but expanded. In total, defining three, not two, roles in the exercise, can show how both being blindfolded, being a guide and being an observer can potentially contribute to the creation and exploration of a given sensescape, as a landscape inhabited and experienced through a multisensory mode of being with and in the world (read more on my definition of sensescapes here.)

With the hope of sharing more reflections and actions with you soon,
Lotus

 

 

 

Categories: aesthetics, Birth, Blindfolding, perception, Secret Hotel, Short experiment, Sight, Workshop | 1 Comment

Summer update from Sensescapes

A midsummer tale

Oh, what an unintentionally long pause there has been since my last blogpost!

Here’s the main reason:

21-06-2014 Bryllup Mie Lotus og Rasmus 203

Photo: Kirsten Lykke Madsen

Lotus og Rasmus Skovs bryllup 2014-301

Photo: Martin Wessel

Lotus og Rasmus Skovs bryllup 2014-11

Photo: Martin Wessel

Ten days ago Rasmus and I got married. We marked the event by establishing a DIY wedding festival in a big camp by the sea. Most of our friends and family stayed for the whole weekend and contributed in the making and celebration. The ceremony was held in an old forest of oaks and beeches in the national park Mols Bjerge – just a few kilometres from the farm were Sensescapes took place in april.

It was one of the most beautiful, meaningful and emotionally overwhelming experiences I have had in my life. We couldn’t have picked a better environment for our union of souls than between old trees, on an old hill, under a shining midsummer sun. Being barefooted in the forest, writing our own vows,  keeping the programme informal and getting friends and family to contribute in different ways… all this resolved in a wonderful, almost magical atmosphere of deep love, care and connection.

I felt completely in my right element, surrounded by rural landscapes and people I love.

And there were strems of tears. From joy, from overwhelmed senses and from gratitude towards the favours, food, words and positive energy exchanged between so many hands and hearts. We had live folk dance music and a great dj and the most luxerious cake buffet seen. We had the sea right outside the door. We had summer solstice and wind and sky. We had a tipi for the wedding night. We had a fine old car borowed from a generous stranger. I had a wedding dress made from hand dyed silk, so light and soft I could have slept in it. We had a room full of yellow balloons, we had tons of fresh strawberries, wonderful speeches, hilarious entertainment, home brewed mead, a lovely, easy-going priest, a choir made for the occasion, and unique rings made from several pieces of golden heirlooms.

I think we were all drunk on love.

It took months of hard work to prepare, and I decided long ago that in June this would be more important than thesis work. And so there has been a pause in the thesis department. A magical pause, that is.

Now, with all the exhaustion and satisfaction that follows such flood of emotions, a slow return to the more analytical and not completely emotional self has begun. Academic life is calling.

Not that Sensescapes had been sleeping entirely. No, there has been life underneath the surface. Still growing, still on its way.

So here’s a short report with news from the sensorial working field:

Debate weekend and a test workshop

By the end of May, Sensescapes participated in Secret Hotel’s Debate Weekend, where around twenty people from interdisciplinary fields in both Denmark and abroad met for three days to encounter, share, discuss and investigate thoughts, themes and pieces related to Landscape Dialogues. For me it was a weekend of profound meetings, bondings and mutual inspiration.

On the last day Sensescapes was tested and found fit for being practised as a workshop! Curious about the importance of shifting surroundings and urban landscapes, the group had moved from Christines’ farm in Mols Bjerge to the cultural production center Godsbanen in Aarhus. And new faces had arrived. Since we did not have time to go through a long introduction, I had Christine interviewing me about the thesis work. Then she was blindfolded and we made a short demonstration of guiding methods in front of the group.

Then they formed groups of two and explored the area for themselves for about half an hour. In each group, one was blindfolded and one was guiding. And there were no words, of course. Same as usual.

It sounds so simple. It IS so simple.

Just put a blindfold on, and you will feel the world change completely.

Since there was no prepared route, all groups went in different directions, which gave us all quite different experiences, facilitating our own urban sensescape. My blindfolded walker and I had great fun and shared lots of laughter, driving each other around in an abandoned shopping cart outside the buildings. When he drove me, we both were out of our comfort zone, which made it even more fun. I had to create a verbal sound system of alarming sounds to signalize danger and communicate with him as our roles of guide and follower became mixed and blurred. Since we had allready spent a couple of days together, and since my blindfolded compagnion was a theatre person who seemed quite comfortable in doing crazy things like this, it became one of the most impulsive and fun sensorial experiences I have facilitated.

I hope to show more pictures from that day later. For now these are all I have:

 

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Photo: Secret Hotel

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Photo: Secret Hotel

In the end we met to briefly share our experiences. One participant asked me:

“Who is experiencing this sensescape you are talking about? The blindfolded person or the guide?”

He suggested that the guide must be more open to a multisensorial experience of the surroundings, since the guide has to have every sense highly activated during the practise of guiding.

That made me think.

So far, guiding has been mostly about facilitation, in my mind. I think this participant made me realize how important the guiding practise is for the door to a sensescape to be opened AND stepped through. I will reflect more on this.

Iceland coming up 

It is a pleasure to announce that I have been granted a student scolarship for participation in Nordic Summer University (NSU) this summer! On their website it says:

The Nordic Summer University (NSU) is a long-established institution within the Nordic intellectual arena. During more than 50 years of existence it has provided a lively forum for academic and intellectual debate, and involved many leading academics, politicians, and intellectuals from all the Nordic Countries. The NSU has always been at the forefront of intellectual thinking, juxtaposing views from the international and Nordic academic arenas, and introducing new thinking and influences into the Nordic Countries.

Expectations are rising! It will be one week from July 24-31 and it will be in Iceland. I can’t wait to go back to the special landscape that has given me so much.

In top of all this, Secret Hotel has offered to cover half of my travel expenses.

All in all I will conclude that June 2014 has been a month of enourmous gifts. To give and recieve so much makes me feel as rich as ever.

May life affirming exchanges continue to flow, in Sensescapes as in the surrounding lives and atmospheres.

A great summer to all of you!

Lotus

Categories: Blindfolding, Closeness, Country side, Euphoria, Hands, Landscape Dialogues, Secret Hotel, Short experiment, Trust, Workshop | Leave a comment

Sensescapes in Mols Bjerge#2

Glimpse from the first ten minutes of today’s walk with Christine.

She lives here on the farm.

So in a way she was the host and I was the guest.

We had a wonderful time exploring her local landscape together.

Photographer: Rasmus Malling Skov

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Categories: Blindfolding, Country side, Hands, Landscape Dialogues, Secret Hotel, Thesis experiment, Trust | Leave a comment

Sensescapes is seeking participants in Mols Bjerge

(Danish below)

Are you living in Mols, Denmark? Would you like to come on an experimental, sensorial walk on an old farm land in Mols Bjerge? You will be blindfolded and carefully led through the landscape by me for about one hour. Afterwards we will talk about your experience in a recorded feedback session.

Please contact me at mielotus@gmail.com if you are interested.

The walks are free of charge, and you can choose what time you want to go on a walk on the following days: April 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12.

The adress is Provstskovvej 7, Bogens, Ebeltoft.

I will use the walks and feedbacks for analysis and discussion about senses and landscapes in my final thesis. Read more about that here and in this blog in general.

Hope to hear from you.

Peace and light,

Lotus

Sensescapes plakat

Har du lyst til at komme med på en sansevandring?

Vi søger lige nu deltagere til sansevandringerne i Mols Bjerge. Tilmeld dig hurtigst muligt hvis du vil være sikker på en plads.

I Sensescapes føres du på en undersøgende vandring gennem et på én gang almindeligt og ukendt landskab. Du har bind for øjnene under hele vandringen og vil derfor opleve omgivelserne og din egen krop på en særlig måde – måske helt anderledes end du er vant til. Det er gratis og der kræves ingen andre forudsætninger for deltagelse end nysgerrighed og interesse for eksperimentet, samt påklædning efter vejret.  Hver vandring varer ca. 1 time og udføres med blot én deltager ad gangen og med Lotus som guide og performer. Efter vandringen følger en feedbacksession på ca. 30 min.

Eksperimentet Sensescapes, foregår i april 2014 og er del af produktionsenheden Secret Hotels projekt Landscape Dialogues. Sensescapes er udviklet af konceptudvikler og performer Mie Lotus Lykke, i forbindelse med hendes produktspeciale i Æstetik og Kultur ved Aarhus Universitet. Sensescapes undersøger landskaber multisensorisk og spontant, og spørger til hvad den æstetiske, sansebårne erfaring kan betyde for vores oplevelse af de landskaber som vi er en del af.

Landscape Dialogues er et længerevarende interdisciplinært projekt om scenekunst, bæredygtighed og landskaber, som byder på nyskabte værker, gæstespil og faglige kompetence- og netværksudviklende fora i Mols Bjerge. Læs mere på http://www.secrethotel.dk/landscape-dialogues/

Sted:

De første 10 af i alt 20 vandringer foregår i starten af april i skønne omgivelser i omkring en gammel gård i Mols Bjerge. Anden halvdel af vandringerne foregår i Århus i slutningen af april.

Tid:

Mols Bjerge: 7.-12. april (pt. ledige pladser to gange om dagen den 8., 10., 11. og 12. april. Tidspunkter aftales individuelt med deltagerne)

Århus: 22-26. april (pt. ledige pladser to gange om dagen alle dage. Tidspunkter aftales individuelt med deltagerne)

Har du lyst til at deltage, så skriv en mail til Lotus på mielotus@gmail.com. Men vær hurtig, der er kun plads til 18 deltagere i alt!

PS:

I efteråret 2013 lavede Lotus et pilotprojekt på Sensescapes under titlen Sensing Reykjavik, som en del af udvekslingsstudier på University of Iceland. Billeder fra vandringerne i Reykjavik, samt løbende refleksioner over produktspecialet kan ses her på bloggen.

NB! Specialet om Sensescapes skrives på engelsk, men vandringerne og feedback’en foregår på dansk.

Categories: Blindfolding, Landscape Dialogues, PR, Secret Hotel, Thesis experiment | Leave a comment

The Farm II

This week I’ve been on a small retreat. The artistic leader of Secret hotel, Christine Fentz, has opened the doors to her home in Mols Bjerge and let me stay here.

Two days ago Christine went to Copenhagen to work and left the farm in my care. Since then I have enjoyed the farm land all by myself, with space to think, to dwell, to open up and to start the process of preparing the big work ahead. The contract for the final thesis is signed and delivered to Aarhus University. So now the thesis project has officially started.

So. Here’s another way to enter the proces:

Go away from the library, the reading halls, the desks and the usual procedures. Go to somewhere with lots of space and air.

Think.

Go for a walk in the woods.

Go for a walk around the house and look for poetic inspiration.

Get distracted by that same poetic inspiration.

Investigate the place. Take pictures. Take the temperature. Take a deep breath.

Share.

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In April, the first series of sensorial walks will be held here, around the farm.  The participants will be blindfolded, so they will watch the farm land with their hands, through their feet, ears and nostrils.

Exciting?

From three days’ work and life here on the farm evolves Process Lecture Nr. 1 for the thesis student:

It is good to go on a walk each day.

While writing this, I realize how this very simple thing – a walk –  connects to the starting point of the thesis. I propose that the physical act of walking/moving with a certain (aesthetic) attention through the landscape can become a way of connecting to something. That “something” could be anything around: the cold wind, the soft ground of the woods, a bird among the trees, my own breath or my whole body. Or it could be something less material: feelings of sadness, boredom, longing, a realization of confusion, satisfaction, tiredness, stress or the arrival of certain crucial reflections and thoughts. Here the moving, perceiving body in relation to the surroundings is what creates these connections.

So. Let’s have a look in the theoretical section.

There are several ways of describing this body-landscape connection theoretically. Rebecca Solnit writes about walking:

 Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body and the world aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord. Walking allows us to be on our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them. It leaves us free to think without being made wholly lost in our thoughts. (Solnit, 2001: 5)

Solnit’s ideal kind of walking seems to be peaceful and harmonic. What do you think about that?

In the foreword to an antology about landscape conversations, Katrin Anna Lund and Karl Benediktsson writes that the landscape is:

 …not comprehended as a predetermined, culturally contrived “text”, but as a conversational partner that is certainly more than human […] (Benediktsson and Lund 2010:8)

Now, if landscape connections can be seen as a (peaceful and harmonic?) conversation, how does the landscape communicate? DOES the landscape communicate? This is one of the questions I ask in my research.

At the moment the thesis process is facing a mountain of words yet unread. Not my words, but others’. Yesterday I wrote a very long literature list of things I want to read. Interesting books are lying in stacks, waiting to be read or re-read. Here are some of the works I expect to be key-works in the thesis so far:

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And there are many more. An interesting, but surely not very easy mountain to climb. I love and hate reading. It can be so tiring. Boring. And sometimes eye-opening! Words, words, dead and alive. New horizons. New land.

BUT. As this project seeks to move away from a system dominated by words and images by introducing an aesthetic perception mode with multiple sensorial sensations, my imaginative mountain of words wants to be combined with other inspiring landscapes. Like this farm land itself. Or in fields of artistic works by others.

Here’s the book I found most inspiring among them all yesterday.

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A short artistic work called “Slices of Wood”, with poems about trees and pictures of trees.

Words about trees on material made of trees. Underlining the belief that it is nonsense to construct a split between nature and culture.

Tonight I go back to the city. With slices of the farm on my camera and my mind. Next thing will be to open some of those books!

Another way to enter the process:

Close the computer.

Read.

Take the weekend off.

Go for another walk. Ideal or not ideal.

Be imperfect.

Litterature:
Solnit, Rebecca, 2001: Wanderlust: A history of walking, Verso

Categories: Country side, Landscape Dialogues, Material, Motivation, Process, Secret Hotel, Sensorial meditation, Silence | 1 Comment

The farm

Two days ago I was at a meeting in Secret Hotel’s land in Mols Bjerge. Every time I arrive at the farm I get struck by a special silence and peaceful atmosphere that seem to dwell here. It’s an old, historic place and a great playground for a landscape explorer! Everything on the farm land seems to be different from the sensations I usually encounter in my daily urban landscape. The smells are different, the sky is bigger, the night is darker, the snow is more clean and the cold somehow more cold.

At the meeting we were a group of mixed artist, academics and culture workers who came to listen and share thoughts about Secret Hotel’s project Landscape Dialogues, which Sensescapes is a part of.

It’s always interesting to visit other people’s homes.  Next time I arrive at the farm I will stay there for five days to study and get to know the place better. First part of Sensescapes’ sensorial walks in April will be held here. I am so excited!

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Categories: Birth, Country side, Gratitude, Landscape Dialogues, Process, Secret Hotel | Leave a comment

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