TASTE of the Earth
This month of November celebrates American Thanksgiving, albeit a reinterpretation of history. My inbox is full of recipes and advice on how to get a meal on the table without having a nervous breakdown. After a few decades of Thanksgiving, I’ve ignored both the recipes and the cooking advice.
The glorious tastes of fall are a bit better with salt. People of a certain age are told to eliminate the extra salt from our food, but I sneak in a few grains of ‘finishing salt’ - like icing on the cake for certain dishes. The short video this month “Why I love This Rock” is about the mineral, halite. I’m including some glorious images that Maldon graciously sent for this newsletter, and after watching my little video, please watch the history and how they make salt in Maldon, England.
Sounds from Earth
We know glaciers slowly grind up the underlying rock as they move forward, and I can only imagine a mighty noise. Scientists and artists at the UChicago Arts-Science Initiative have made a “laboratory-controlled model of the much larger-scale phenomenon. Ice - crushed and melting - was examined and documented, and ultimately used as core source material and inspiration for the musical/visual piece. The music combines improvisatory elements and real-time electronics with pre-composed sections”
If you are going to the annual AGU meeting this year, Professor Doug MacAyeal will be presenting the 12-minute video Breaking Ice and how the scientists and artists collaborated.
Temperature turned into Pitch
And then there are artists who use data that comes from the warming atmosphere that is causing glaciers to melt. A few years ago I heard a cellist playing music– notes representing temperature of a warming climate. I tracked it down for you.
And last year Jiabao Li, artist and faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, participated in a panel on art and using data in education, and we heard yet another cellist playing the sound of warming Earth.
Jiabao writes “This series of work embodies the stunning beauty, rapid change, fragility, destructive power, and magnificence of glaciers. In Glacier’s Lament, we used data from glacier melting in the past 60 years to compose music and dance with local musicians who have witnessed the recession of the Mendenhall glacier over their lifetimes in Juneau, Alaska. Each note is one season in a year. In the winter, the glacier is frozen, so the pitch is low. In the summer, the melting rate rises, so the pitch is high. Towards the end, the melting overflows into spring and autumn, and the melting in the summer becomes faster. We filmed the artists performing the piece on the glacier, collaborating with the glacier’s own sounds. They challenge the audience with the dramatic, irreversible ecological damages from climate change.”
You can see more of her work and experience A Taste of the Anthropocene.
More about Earth to Susan
I am writing a book about how people see the Earth in different ways. In the four newsletters so far, we have looked at the Earth as Data, the Environment, a Commodity, and now as affecting the Senses.
As part of the writing process, I’ve held my book’s content close over the years, but I’m ready to put some of it out into the world. So I will bring science, poetry, music, theology, literature, philosophy, history, geography, politics, and economics to these pages – all in relationship to Earth.
Most importantly, I believe that helping people understand that we all see the Earth in different ways will open conversations to help find solutions for the many issues facing the planet we call home.
I will continue one newsletter per month, and I hope you will read Earth to Susan and share it with your friends! It’s free.
Until next month,
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I, too, love the music and dance, and how it ties in with your beautiful descriptions. Your words are impactful. YOU are an incredible writer!
Wow, the music of both pieces drive home the point in a beautiful but chilling way! I was reminded of the emotional impact of The Vietnam War Memorial, interestingly. Wonderful writing. Thanks