Terminologies

Archive. According to the philosopher Michel Foucault, an archive ‘is the general system of the formation and transformation of statements’, but there is absolutely no consensus about this definition by later writers. What is the difference between a collection, an archive, and a library? Each archivist or organisation that I’ve talked to has a different distinction about these terms. Large organisations such as Kew and the Henry Moore Institute have specific taxonomies. A library holds printed material, an archive holds unpublished printed material. A collection holds either objects, or is a sub distinction of objects, which are ‘bundled together’ in either an archive or a library. Arts archives not created by trained archivists generally regard these distinctions as “points across the same Venn diagram”, preferring not to create a taxonomy within taxonomy.

 

Anthropocene Age. This term was coined  by the ecologist Eugene Stoermer as the successor to the Holocene Age, because for the first time human beings have made a permanent geological trace on the planet. Whilst there is no consensus about when it started, many experts believe that it commenced as a result of the Industrial Revolution in Europe. 

 

Arboreal. This word is used in the classic dictionary sense of living in, or connected with trees. This will include artwork that images trees, and unlike the term arborescent which implies a branch like mentality, does not abandon the possibility of rhizomic thought.

 

Art in Nature. The artist Sam Bower, from the green museum notes that terms such as Art in Nature are allied to artists such as Andy Goldsworthy. The term was coined by art historians Vittorio Fagone and Dieter Ronte in 1989. These projects tended to be on a smaller scale than Land Art and looked to romantic minimalism for inspiration.

 

Art in the Environment. is often seen as a sub-distinction of Art in the Public Realm. I will also use the latter term in acknowledgment of the perceived different discourses surrounding art sited in the grey and the green environments. Within the UK, Art in the Public Realm is normally linked with urban public projects.

 

Becoming or the Potentiality ontology dates back to Heraclitis’ (545-475BC) treatise on nature which states that everything flows and nothing stands still. It relates to changing and moving forward. Aristotle further explores this through notions of potentiality and actuality. The philospher Gilles Deleuze also embraces the notion of becoming in his writing.

 

Biodiversity is interpreted as the diversity of the totality of genuses, species, and ecosystems of a region. It acknowledges that these counter inform each other.

 

Carbon sinks operate ‘By intercepting and trapping solar energy and carbon dioxide, tree canopies form effective sinks in which the principle agent of the warming process is removed from the atmosphere and sequestered in solid form as wood.’ 

 

Carbon stores operate because: ‘Forests remove C02 from the atmosphere by photosynthesis, and globally could provide abatement equivalent to about 25% of current C02 emissions from fossil fuels, through a combination of reduced deforestation, forestry management and afforestation’ . 

 

Chora. The philosopher Jacques Derrida, (revisiting Plato) states that chora ‘is the spacing which is the condition for everything to take place, for everything to be inscribed... chora receives everything or gives place to everything... everything inscribed in it erases itself immediately, whilst remaining in it’. If chora is never a map, or the place, or the actuality then photographic documentation of sited work must also operate in this way. 


Climate change effects four key areas: temperature, air quality, water, and biodiversity. The increase in greenhouse gas concentrations over the last few centuries is the result of rising C02 emissions. This means that the global climate is warming and weather patterns are changing. This has many effects including increasing the melting of the polar ice caps thereby rising sea levels, which in turn leads to flooding. The rise in both land and sea temperatures affects biodiversity as if flora or fauna cannot adapt to different temperatures and/or availability of water; they will either have to move or die out in that part of the world. Forests act as both carbon sinks and carbon stores and ameliorate some of these effects.

 

Earthworks or Earth Art are considered by Sam Bower of greenmuseum.org to be a subset of Land Art.

 

Ecovention. In 2002 the artists Amy Lipton and Sue Spaid coined the term Ecovention. The ecoventions focus primarily on the work of US artists, in terms of activism, working with ‘wastelands’, biodiversity, urban infrastructures, and ‘reclamation and restoration aesthetics’. The book made it clear that the USA, Northern Europe, and Japan have had a much stronger history of this type of commission or project than the UK.

 

The epiphyte. In botanical terms, an epiphyte is a plant that grows non-parasitically upon another one (such as a tree), and uses photosynthesis to generate its energy. It obtains its water supply from the ambient moisture in the air or from the surface of its host. Essentially epiphytes are rootless. Roots may develop to attach them to the host, but they don’t garner nutrients. The word derives from the Greek epi (meaning upon) and phyton (meaning plant). Epiphytic plants found in English woodland include mosses, liverworts and lichens. They particularly thrive in the Lake District due to the air’s high humidity levels and according ecological writer George Monbiot, are good indicators or pollution levels. 

 

Ecosophy. A phrase coined by the philosopher Felix Guattari  which states that ecological issues such as pollution could only be addressed through considering the environment, social relations and human subjectivity together in a holistic way.

 

Environmental. What is environmental? I will interpret this as either ‘of or relating to the external conditions or surroundings’ or ‘concerned with the ecological effects of altering the environment’. So the broader territory for my research will be defined as environmental art because it encompasses ecological and environmental concerns. It is particularly appropriate as many of the projects commissioned at Grizedale, have not necessarily been in the Forest at all. A final note about the term environment. The critical art writer Joy Sleeman observes that in the 1960’s and 70’s, what we currently call the environment was always posited as plural - citing Camden Arts Centre’s Environments Reversal exhibition as an example. This plurality is a sad loss in both our lexicon and mindset.

 

Environmental Art. Bower states that the term environmental art often encompasses ecological concerns, but is not specific to them. It is flexible enough to acknowledge the early history of this movement (which was often more about art ideas than environmental ones) as well as art with more activist concerns, and art which primarily celebrates an artist’s connection with nature through using natural materials.

 

Embodiment. Embodied cognition is rooted in the philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s belief that the human mind is deeply affected by our body’s experience of an event, entity or space/place. It fundamentally opposes the Cartesian mind-body split which dominated discourse for several centuries. Merleau-Ponty’s research acknowledges Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time book discussing existentialism.

 

Existentialism (Dasein) relates to a place through the concept of being and experience. It is key to the principles behind the residencies at Grizedale as it explores the lived, creative experiences in relation to the immediate context.

 

Forests and Woods. Forests are home to 80% of the planet’s biodiversity. Whilst Grizedale defines itself as a forest (i.e. an enclosure for animals) it displays traits more akin to the distinction of a woodland in terms of its biodiversity. Traditionally, a woodland is land in which trees have been grown naturally, but have historically been coppiced, managed and replanted by humans. A classic woodland has a 3 or 4 tiered structure:

- A top canopy of tall mother trees e.g. oak or elm
- Smaller trees e.g. Hazel or Birch
- Shrubs e.g. Elder, Holly or Hawthorn

- Woodland floor plants e.g. Violets, Ferns, or Fungi
It should be noted however that the above description is a cliché because it is a construct about what we think woodlands or forest should be.

 

Geography. The OED (Oxford English Dictionary) defines this as a study of the earth’s physical features, resources and climate and the physical aspects of its population including the main physical features of an area. I will also use the term geographies in acknowledgment these features, resources and climates are plural and diverse.

 

Land Art. Art critics Jeffrey Kastner and Brian Wallis suggest that Land Art - the term was first coined for the 1969 exhibition and TV broadcast in Germany - evolved into environmental art.

 

Landscape. In medieval times the term ‘landscape’ referred to the land owned by a specific lord or inhabited by a particular people. In the 16th century, artists used the term to describe a representation of scenery. As landscape writer Massimo Ferriolo acknowledges, landscapes are often oversimplified, being ‘cultural containers, historical storehouses, and spaces of intelligible world’, and that the terms ‘nature’ and ‘landscape’ are often perceived as being interchangeable, when they are not.

 

Nature. Critical writer Timothy Morton, states that nature is ‘a transcendental term in a material mask’  which hints at the linguistic complexities surrounding this word.

 

Palimpsest. A written document in which the original writing has been defaced to make room for later writing on top of it, but the term has also been used in reference to architecture, the city and the landscape.

 

Phylogeny. This involves tracing the evolutionary development of either a single or group of organisms. It differs significantly from Charles Darwin's tree-like system of organising information.


The radicle. According to curator and writer Barbara Nemitz ‘plants are radical subjects’. The original meaning of the word radicle - from radicalis - is something that is firmly rooted. In botanical terms, the radicle is the first part of a seedling to emerge from the seed during the process of germination. It is the embryonic root of the plant that becomes the tap root. Trees, with their massive network of roots and (normally) giant tap roots, are the most radicle of all plants, so any UK forest is abundant with radicle trees. 

 

The rhizome. In botanical terms, a rhizome (from the Greek: rhizoma, root stalk) is a horizontal stem of a plant that is normally found underground, which sends out roots and shoots from its nodes as a form of reproduction. If a rhizome is broken into pieces, each piece may be able to give rise to a new plant. This process is known as vegetative reproduction. Some plants also have rhizomes that grow above ground or that lie on the soil’s surface. Rhizomic plants found in UK woodlands include ferns and horsetails. Philosphers Deleuze and Guattari used the rhizome as a key metaphor in their A Thousand Plateaus text which underpins my research approach

 

Sculpture as place. According to art critic Jane Rendell, ‘The discovery of sculpture as ‘place’ articulated by a number of prominent artists in the 1960s has become a condition of contemporary art. Yet the interest in place that today underscores the work of many contemporary artists is distinguished by a shared concern about spatial production' . She goes on to argue that this has expanded the boundaries of Fine Art practice into that of interdisciplinary practice.


Site specific art: I have found no agreement on what is meant by this. As curator and critical writer Miwon Kwon notes, the term has been ‘uncritically adopted by mainstream art institutions’  and as such it is a ‘problem-idea, as a particular cipher of art and spatial politics’. Because of this issue, I will be using the terms sited artwork/ work/practice. 

 

Space and place. The philosopher Henri Lefebvre points out that the term space is used with little understanding. Merleau-Ponty makes distinctions between geometrical space and anthropological space. The latter was ‘indissociable from a "direction of existence", and implanted in the space of a landscape’ . For Michel de Certeau, ‘space is a practised place’, with the capability to reconstitute itself – it can never be erased. So space is effectively a frequented place. More recently Marc Auge talks of the super-modern space which is transitory and fleeting to the point that it becomes a non-place, which is never totally completed. Therefore, space becomes a ‘frequentation of places rather than a place’ . According to geographer Doreen Massey, space is described in terms of something to be crossed and conquered. It is an abstraction, which is encapsulated by terms such as globalisation, a concept which whilst being large and unmanageable, governs our world’s political decision making. Place is traditionally associated with the local and the personal. Massey attempts to blur these two distinctions, inviting the plural and multilplicitous concept of ‘space as the product of interrelations’. It is Massey’s interpretation of space that I am adopting.

 

Taxonomy is the science and practice of classification of living or dead organisms.

 

Terra Incognita. The OED defines Terra Incognita as ‘unknown land’ – it derives from early European colonialists’ attempts to map and navigate the world so that they could ‘collect’ it. Whilst the coastlines were usually roughly sketched in, the continental landmasses of the Americas, Africa, Australia, and more recently Antarctica, were dubbed Terra Incognita. In lieu of the actual data, entire continents were filled with fantastic drawings of flora and fauna. The philosopher Jacques Derrida wrote about the archive in terms of privilege, about a fear of losing control of ‘knowledge’. I am proposing that whilst Terra Incognita is an admission of not having knowledge, it retains its sense of privilege, because the mapmaker was not just imaging space and land, but imagining it. 

 

Translocation is the movement of an item from one place to another; or in botanical terms, the movement of organic substances from one part of a plant to another for example sap or chlorophyll.

 

Wunderkammers emerged in Europe between 1450 and 1750, as a result of the emergence of new objects often discovered through colonial activities which were yet to be defined or categorised. Broadly speaking we would define these objects now as belonging to natural history, although not all of these artefacts were actual. The Wunderkammer was regarded as a microcosm of the world and as a memory theatre. Wunderkammers ‘lost their allure in the face of, among other things, a colonial expansion that made their treasure far more familiar and available than befits a bona fide object of wonder’. In the 17th and 18th centuries, they were superseded by Cabinet of Curiosities  which marked a desire to ‘grasp and control the mystery which made nature such an enthralling realm’  instead of creating ‘awe’. Their aims were ‘accumulation, definition and classification’. They moved from being private collections into the domain of museums, thereby becoming institutionalised.