Land Dive Team: Amphibious James

Land Dive Team: Amphibious James


(percussive music) (people cheering) (percussive music) – [Man] We are here
at Brown’s Island for the festival River, which
is a three-day extravaganza of art, and music,
and the environment, all focused on the James
River and on the health of the watersheds that
leads the Chesapeake Bay. – [Woman] One of the things
that’s really exciting about contemporary art is
that it’s not just contained within the walls of institutions but also can move
out into the city and into our lives in
really exciting ways. – [Man] This is one of the
first times that I know of where a scuba
regulator has been used as a musical instrument. And so we are really just
gonna see how it goes. – [Woman] This is
an experimental work
totally conceived for this site and this festival. I actually won’t see it
because I’ll be experiencing it from the bottom of
the James River. (gentle instrumental music)
(birds chirping) (divers breathing deeply) (gentle instrumental music) (birds chirping) (gentle instrumental music)
(birds chirping) (water purling) – [Woman] We, the divers
of Land Dive Team: Amphibious James, greet
our companions here in the James River, above
us in the air, and on land. You, a collective of
species, breathing with us, the flow of water
past your gills, the absorption of oxygen
through your skin, the breath you inhale
from scuba gear, exhale through wind instruments, the rising and
falling of your chest, the feeling of breath
entering your nostrils, the subtle movement of
your abdomen in and out. We speak to you from the
fall line of the James River, and acknowledge the other
names by which it is known: above the fall line,
the Monacan River; below the falls, the Powhatan. We acknowledge the peoples
who have lived on its shores for 12,000 years and
all of the species who have lived alongside them. We imagine this river forming
in the Appalachian Mountains, flowing into the Chesapeake Bay, joined by 150 rivers and streams before reaching
the Atlantic Ocean. We invite all of you to
join us in this meditation with the James River,
to bring your attention to your breath,
and to return to it no matter what
arises in the mind. To practice with us,
staying present in your body and on this site,
where you are sitting, standing, swimming, flying, and to turn your attention to
all that unfolds around us. Thank you for being here. Thank you for cultivating
your amphibiousness, your awareness of this air, this land, this water. (gentle instrumental music) (birds chirping) (people applauding) (frogs chirping) (gentle instrumental music) (frogs chirping) (gentle instrumental music)
(frogs chirping) (divers breathing deeply)
(gentle instrumental music) (divers breathing deeply) (people applauding) (birds chirping) (percussive music) ♪ It all means nothing ♪ ♪ If you don’t stand
up for something ♪ ♪ And now I stand up for you ♪ – [Woman] Lots of people came
out to help clean up the James and to really try to
take care of the island and the land around it and
the water, the water as well. So there were
educational activities,
environmental cleanup, and then a series of
activities that range from bands performing
to an oyster shucker to these three
different performances that are sequencing
through the afternoon. – We live in the
age of information. – The ICA is one of the… One of the many institutions
that have come together to put the festival on. And specifically we’re
partnering with the symphony and Sound Arts Richmond to
co-commission three performances that are happening on and
around the island today. – I will cue the
field recording track. – Hope Ginsburg,
in collaboration with Josh Quarrels as
composer, created a series of projects called Land Dives. She thinks of them as
performative actions. And participants in the
Land Dive projects suit up in full scuba gear, and they
meditate on land or in water. And she uses that as a
way to call attention to the particular
ecologies of these sites, and in many cases also to help
us think about issues related to climate change and the
ways that climate change is affecting our landscapes and also those all of us
who inhabit the planet. (water gurgling) – I was on a dive off the
coast of Guanica, Puerto Rico, not long after I
learned to scuba dive, and I was in shallow water. And I was surrounded by
sea fans and sea whips that were moving back and forth with the current of the ocean. And it just so happened
that the timing of their movement
was exactly timed to my inhales and exhales. (water gurgling) There was this aha moment
of just kind of breathing with this ocean, very
visceral temporal experience that helped me
make the connection between diving and meditation. When I learned to scuba dive,
it was a time in my life where I was doing some
healing of my own. So this constellation
of healing and breathing and diving really
formed in the early days of my time as a diver. And then in a real kind
of nitty-gritty way, I started off thinking about making a very
specific video project for which I wanted a group
of people either meditating or doing yoga on
land with scuba gear. And in order to get that shot, I had to orient
a group of people to scuba gear and meditation. And I was right back in
that space where I work, which is learning with other
people, knowledge exchange. The actual meditation with the
scuba gear was so compelling as a physical experience
as an awareness experience that the project really
took off from there. – I got involved with
Hope some time ago. I’m kind of the
diving coordinator. I’m the one who is making sure
everything is working fine. I’m working as a safety
diver to make sure that everything goes well, they don’t have any
problems in the water. – When the opportunity
arose to be part of Hope Ginsburg’s
piece, then I said, “Sure, I’d love to do that.” And it’s important to me to
be committed to this project in that way as well, to use
this opportunity working with the ICA to
make a serious point about the health of the river. So what’s unusual about this is we’re wearing full face masks rather than just the
usual oxygen breathers. And that also enables
us to have microphones in our insides of the masks, so we can press a button
and talk to the bank, which is not something
you can normally do if you’re scuba diving. So part of this is to
communicate our breath back to the bank where it gets mixed
with the sound being created by the musical instruments
and forms one big piece, one big impression,
very meditative. – [Woman] The rising and
falling of your chest, the feeling of breath
entering your nostrils. – When I learned
about the technology of the full face scuba mask,
I was really interested in thinking about how that
could work for a project. What this piece
does is it asks us to focus on amphibiousness. So there’s a land dive
team meditating on land. And there’s an amphibious
dive team, three divers who actually go into the river to send sound back to the mix. And there’s also a wind ensemble
of nine players who are, in effect, also
meditating with us, they’re breathing through
their instruments, the land divers are breathing
through their scuba gear, and the whole piece is a
meditation with the James River. – I tried to come up with
music that would sort of be kind of minimalist,
so that the breathing and the sound of the water
and the nature sounds we kind of all come together, doing something outside
my comfort zone, kind of doing something
new and different, which is always a… You know, it’s an
adventure, so it’s fun. – To me, this piece is a
little bit more of deciding where our place is in
that environment worldwide and what we do and how we
fit into the environment as one of the biggest
influencers of it nowadays. It’s more of a comment on
how we should be stewards of the ecology rather than
the largest influencers in so many bad ways. – I think all of
those who are gathered to witness the performance, probably had a really
profound experience, because the piece is so much
about kind of settling us, helping us pay attention
to the landscape, and to really
understand, in this case, the ecology of the James
River and the creatures that live in and around it
in a really exciting new way. Richmond is obviously a
city that was deeply shaped by the James. You know, the James is one of
the kind of defining features of the city, and it
felt really important to create an opportunity
for artists to respond to this place as well
as to our wider city. We wanted to take advantage
of the opportunity to help people have a really
kind of a special experience of the site that would
bring them out to the river and then create an experience
built in response to the river that would help them think
about this place in new ways. (water purling) (gentle instrumental music)
(birds chirping) (intense piano music)

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