Part I. Let the trees lead (or, Seeds for a Planthroposcene)
Text and voice: Natasha Myers
Field recordings and composition: Ayelen Liberona and Natasha Myers
Editing and Production: Yuval Sagiv
Recording: Geoffrey Siskind
Description: These field recordings were made in the Spring of 2016 at the eastern edges of High Park, Toronto’s 400-acre pleasure park, just where a major throughfare cuts through an ancient oak savannah. These lands are the sacred hunting and foraging lands of the Wendat, the Anishinaabe Nations and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. For more information see Toronto’s Indigenous Land Stewardship Circle (http://indigenouslandstewardshipTO.ca). Becoming Sensor (http://becomingsensor.com) is a research-creation collaboration focused on the work of detuning settler stories about these lands, and tuning in to the sentience of the land and its many relations.
Part II: Becoming Sensor in Sentient Worlds (2016)
Field recordings and Composition: Ayelen Liberona & Natasha Myers
Part III: Sounding Out an Urban Oak Savannah (2017)
Field recordings: Allison Cameron, Ayelen Liberona & Natasha Myers
Composition: Allison Cameron
PART I: Let the trees lead (or Seeds for a Planthroposcene)
By Natasha Myers
The forest calls. Let yourself be lured into its depths so you can become otherwise alongside this involving collective of becomings. Ingather with all those who grow together in these woods: you too can learn how to become an accomplice to the plants, conspiring with them to grow livable worlds.
To feel the immensity of this collective of beings and happenings that is a forest, it is necessary to let go of what you have learned about plants and trees. Forget what you have been taught about the distance between you and a tree. Detune your colonized sensorium that limits what you can see, hear, feel, imagine and know. Queer the mechanizing and economizing norms that designate plants and trees as ecosystems services and extractable resources.
Remember: You are of the plants. The plants breathed you into being. They articulated your sensorium, teaching you all about taste and smell, and inspiring your aesthetics with their materialities, forms, and colours. And they can teach you much more, if you let them.
But first you must vegetalize your sensorium. Entrain your tissues to planty sensitivities. Let vegetal sensibilities inform your sensory organs. Awaken the visual and kinesthetic dimensions of your imagination to expand your morphological imaginary. Let go of your bodily contours as you try on the forms, movements, and attentions of plants and trees. By cultivating your inner plant, you will be able grow a forest within you, negating that abyss we all too often assume there is between plants and people. Get caught up in the involutionary momentum that propels plants and people into relation, and you will soon start to perceive affective ecologies taking shape among the thicket of relations all around you.
As you step into the forest, let the trees lead. With a soft gaze, let yourself be pulled from your heart to follow the gestural happening that is a tree. Follow them from their roots, up to their branching limbs. Trees are slow dancers; they are creative, exploratory creatures improvising with one another, and with light, gravity, and vibration. Who are these trees dancing with? Follow their limbs curving, bending, and swooping. Let the branches pull your body with them, upwards, spiraling, sweeping. Move with and be moved by them. Let the pull of these limbs inscribe new arc lines through your fascia, activating spiraling energetic cords, rearticulating your anatomy, torqueing your expressions and gestures.
Now, draw your attention down to the roots of the trees, just where their trunks meet the rich earth. Feel yourself beginning to root alongside them, diving downwards into the soil. Extend yourself into the cool, moist earth. Feel your strength as a downward thrust that inspires an upward lift. Experiment with gravitropism. Feel the rush as you redistribute your awareness through this tangle of roots that branch and branch and branch until they reach the width of just a single cell. Find one of your root tips. Taste the wet, metallic soil; smell that musty gradient of decaying matter flush with minerals. Propel yourself towards the source. Experiment with your strength. Push yourself up against the soil; grow through minute crevices between crumbling pieces of earth.
Now multiply this sensation. Feel two searching root tips. Then four. Can you extend your awareness to five? What would it be like to sense thousands of root tips extending through the soil? Feel the rush as you expand your awareness to millions of sensitive root tips. Dive downwards and run outwards, drawing water and nutrients in and up through all of them simultaneously. Now hook yourself into a thickening mycelial network of fungi, microbes, and other roots all around you. Feel your whole root system humming with an electric charge. Feel the energetic thrill of connection. How far can you extend your awareness? Run with it, in every direction.
Begin to draw your awareness back up your trunk, and into your branches. Feel what it might be like to leaf from those million-fold centres of indetermination. Budding, leafing, flowering, and fruiting. Your generous meristems, generating matter. Mattering delicious. Mattering elixirs. Mattering creatively, inquisitively, artfully, and expressively.
Feel the play of light and shadow across your leaves. The surface of each one of your leaves is a visual organ registering and remembering minute shifts in light intensity. Your leaves are filmic media, recording colour movies of the lush, shifting light patterns around you. You can “see” the shimmering shadows other plants cast as they list and play in the wind. What can you sense now?
Slowly come back to your breath, and to your body. What has changed?
And consider this: perhaps it is by cultivating your inner plant that you too can begin to form solidarity projects with the trees. Use your freshly vegetalized sensory dexterities to get on their side. Consider yourself at their service. Gather yourself up with the plants to form a Planthropos, a collective entity made of plants and their many relations, one in which people all over the world get committed to the work of growing livable worlds.
Indeed, such a Planthropos is the guide we need to break the frame of the Anthropocene logics that leave us alienated from our most important allies. And so, if the Anthropocene names an epoch after singular agents bent on earthly destruction, perhaps it is time to seed a Planthroposcene, a scene, episteme or way of doing life in which we all learn how to conspire with the plants.