Writing or Talking – Conversation in May

Despite a short break on the first of May, – the Kaivopuisto Park is one of the major carnival sites for the May Day celebrations – I have visited the pine regularly since the end of April until the twelfth of May. I have also recorded a conversation with the reclining pine, on Mothers’ Day, and made a small video of it, too, see here, as well as an episode on the pod Talking with Trees, here. The main topic for the conversation was a classic text by Eliot Weinberger called “Camera people”, which discusses ethnographic cinema and the ideal of truth or reality. The transcribed text is added next to the video; no point in repeating it here. Rather, I say here a few words about the difference between writing and speaking to a tree, prompted by a text called “Writing with Trees”, which is published now in the proceedings of CARPA 7, see here, There I use one of the first letters I wrote to trees as an example (not a pine tree, though) when discussing what it means to be writing to trees. This year, however, I have chosen to talk rather than write to some pine trees. It is relatively easy to sit down and talk and record that talk, and add it as a soundtrack on the video, compared to my previous way of writing a letter by hand, then transcribing that letter, reading and recording it and then editing it and adding it as a voice-over narration to the video. Unlike the written, read and recorded narration, the talk is 100 % synchronised with the image, because I say ”now I start” when I start recording, next to the camera, which will record the sentence, too, so sound and image can be linked later, and I say ”now I stop” when I return to the camera afterwards. These ”signals” are not included in the video nor in the transcription, they serve as technical assistance. The talk is of course more rough than a text, which is read and recorded, and also more like a performance in real time. Speaking aloud, improvising in the moment, produces other thoughts or at least another style, than so called automatic writing, I guess. And addressing the pine with a letter invites perhaps a more formal tone than addressing them by speaking. The impromptu speech includes hesitations, pauses, corrections and perhaps disturbances, like the noises produced by the wind. Speaking is much easier, however, especially when I speak in English, which an app can recognise and transcribe. Perhaps something is lost, however, and I should try writing again to explore the difference further. In the published text I hint at the possibility that addressing a letter to a tree while sitting next to the tree not only changes one’s relationship to the tree but also one’s relationship to writing.

Categorized as English

By Annette Arlander


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