Sunday, 12 July 2009

Toads in the wood and the immensity of the universe

Yesterday I went for a walk in the woods. My intention was to experiment with new ways of working in the landscape but I didn't get much work done because it took me ages to get along the path because it was crawling with tiny toads. They were very beautiful but it was tricky to avoid stepping on them because they were beautifully camouflaged.

This made me aware of the issue of scale - the tiny toad sitting on my hand, me as the giant but that toad is a part of something much bigger, the movement of hundreds of toads from the water, up the hill through the woods; one big movement made up of hundreds of small organisms - perhaps that makes me feel rather small.

SCALE - the relative size or extent of something no one foresaw the scale of the disaster everything in the house is on a grand scale. [often as adj. a ratio of size in a mapmodel, drawing, or plan a one-fifth scale model of a seven-story building an Ordnance Survey map on a scale of 1:2500.

It also reminds me of Richard Long's work again. In several of his text works he makes reference to the relative scales of different natural phenomena or to their relative lifespans. He is also interested in the relationship between his own human scale and lifetime in relation to his surrounding landscape. If we are to consider humanity as a part of nature (which I believe we should) it is important to view the world through different timescales and from the perspective of other species. The problem is I get a bit overwhelmed when I think of the world in these terms, I suppose that is why we normally don't.

Years ago I painted an accurate scale depiction of the earth and the moon. Until I calculated it I hadn't realised what the relative scales of the moon and Earth wood look like, and I absolutely could not visualise the distance. By making that painting it all became really clear to me. But then when I looked up at the moon one clear night it was mind blowing; I could finally visualise the scale and the distance and it was difficult to deal with from my tiny human perspective.

That wasn't what I was going to write about but it is probably more important than me threading a few seed pods on a string.

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