Standing on the hill in front of the camera and walking down to sit on the rock below the slope, during this one session in June, made me aware of the small windmill again. It is the only feature in the environment that has visibly changed since I sat on the same rock once a week for a year twelve years ago. At that time I was interested in recording the seasonal changes in the environment during one year. Now my focus is on changes that have taken place during these years in between. Which reminds me of the notion of the excluded middle, and the environment as one example of that, discussed in an article by Jondi Keane, “Æffect: Initiating Heuristic Life” in Barrett & Bolt (eds.) Carnal Knowledge – Towards a ‘New materialism’ through the Arts I. B. Tauris 2013.
According to Keane a new materialism must be built on the subtle difference initiated by embodied reality sensitive to Æffects and prompted by atmospheric intricateness. (Keane 2013, 61) His notion Æffect is “a relational/corelational tool devised to help one learn how to negotiate the material processes of self-organisation.” Practicing embodied cognition, or distributing the mind throughout the body and into the environment, means “first, the recognition of the role of the environment in the co-selection of the organism-person-surround”, that is, “cognition as perception and action”, and “second the role of abstract relationships in the coordination of the organism-person-surround”, that is, “cognition as attention, emphasis, and the production of value-based distinctions”. (Keane 2013, 60)
What would that mean in terms of my sitting on a rock once a month? Or in terms of documenting visits to the same place regularly? I do recognise the role of the environment in what Keane would call the organism-person-surround of me sitting on the cold rock among young birches bending in the wind and geese walking around followed by their young. I am not observing and reflecting but rather engaging in actions in order to perceive. And I do admit that I focus my attention on some parts of the environment and put more emphasis and value on some aspects, like the familiar rock and the view of the open sea. And that my eyes are intent on noticing changes since my last visit in May, like the full-grown leaves of the birches or the profusion of violets blooming on the cliffs.