Photos by Sebastian Cvitanic
a mountain’s pulse is an interdisciplinary project directed by Paige Barnes in collaboration with visual artist Mya Kerner that illuminates the connection between body and earth, linking the story of a person's pulse with that of a mountain. This project combines Paige’s research of pulse listening/dancing and Mya’s explorations of the landscape.
While studying Chinese medicine at Bastyr University, pulse listening inspired Paige to develop a new dance practice. In 2017, she began explorations on the intersection of pulse and art during an Olympic Sculpture Park residency. Mya came into the project this year after Paige saw an exhibition of her wire drawings on panel. Paige and Mya aim to develop this practice by incorporating digital media and sculpture through a series of residencies and performances over the next two years, each focusing on a different aspect of research.
“a mountain’s pulse” began from a desire to link the internal, emotional experience with a mythology of the landscape.
Mya regards the mountains as stoic icons that are reflected by humanity. Like our bodies, they hold records, their surfaces marked by the movements of the earth and the torrents of the sky. The mountains represent a collision, or maybe, a collaboration of the elements and forces of life.
Drawing from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) philosophy, Paige believes the pulse generates awareness about the interworking of the body and its history. An infinite well of inspiration, listening to the pulse reveals what has come before. It is a topographical language, a language of feelings, a history of emotion. Like the imprints on stone made by the flow of water, the pulse tells a story of the blood’s current.
Using acupuncture’s pulse listening method, Paige listens to the radial pulse with her fingertips and responds with an improvised dance. In TCM, the radial pulse provides information on the health of the different organ systems and channels, such as the heart, lung, liver, spleen, and kidney. Using the medical framework, Paige begins to listen, then, connecting with her artistic practice, allows for imagery to emerge from the sensation and quality of the pulse. Standing up, she improvises a dance, free associating and spontaneously composing based off the memory of the pulse.
As Paige dances, Mya bends wire in response to her movements. Originally derived from her research of the terrain, the wire drawings translate the dance into a language of landscape, capturing the energy and movements in contour lines. Mya’s gestures reflect and react, forming a representation of the internal landscape, an interdependent framework waiting to be filled by the memory of the dance.
As we work, the participant often sees their personal life experiences reflected in our movements and representations. Pulse readings can be intimate, yet there are no secrets revealed. We use this process as a way of gathering, weaving each pulse into a greater mythology. Together, we work to depict the fragile interconnection of the body and earth, entwining the story of a person's pulse with that of a mountain.