An example of thinking whilst doing

By 11th May 2022 May 17th, 2022 Creative Practice

Made this mess earlier from a random load of dried ivy leaves I had flying around my studio. Doesn’t look like much, granted… but it led to a really interesting thought process.

I had a pair of scissors close so just started chopping them into bits… but noticed I didn’t much like the interface of the scissors – so I started just tearing them with my hands.

I’ve been feeling pretty stressed lately and the tearing and (sometimes angry) ripping felt really cathartic.

Then I felt a pang of (intellectual? emotional?) guilt… why was I completely destroying these leaves? Why did it make me feel better? What did the ivy plant – or these leaves – do to deserve me doing this? Just be in my way? An outlet for my human ego?

I felt like this was a micro-metaphor for the Anthropocene, for how we as humans extract and use the natural environment for our own… sense of power? To make us feel good about ourselves? Thought it sounds like bully behaviour.

But this is dead matter – why does it matter if I rip them up? But then in contrast, using that same logic, why is it so ethically incomprehensible to rip up a human corpse? Or a dog’s corpse? Why does this ethical boundary not extend to the cattle in line for slaughter, for mountains, for bushes. But then if we consider the apparently agreed (Western?) hierarchy of nature, why do we feel sad when we see a tree being felled?

But you’re not harming the leaves by tearing them… if anything, you’re assisting in the decomposition process! OK, so why don’t we chop our dead into little pieces before burying or cremating them then? Why is one abhorrent and not the other? Because they’re not ‘us’? Where has the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality got us so far?

Ah but plants don’t care, they don’t have a sentience… but do they though? How do we know? We have a terrible tendancy to compare other beings to our own constructs of existence… in an attempt for relatability? Are leaves to trees the same as hair is to humans? What is this arrogant need to centre everything, every thought about the non-human, back on ourselves?

All that from tearing up leaves for 3mins lol

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.