Earthing: Embodying Future Consciousness

Here we are –
Shaping life,
Shaping Mind

From Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

Earthing is about connecting in a material, tactile and embodied way to the energy of the earth. It demands a shift in consciousness to really feel the ground beneath one’s naked feet, to truly touch the earth with bare soles and to experience earth-energy flow through one’s body – it is a reminder; a humbling awareness of the ecosystems that make our existence possible. Sensorial mindfulness requires a shift in consciousness: tactile connection, sonic attuning and olfactory attentiveness to the elements around us and an awareness of our presence as part of the elements (in both taxonomies of four1 and five2 identified elements) and, that we are not separate from it but constitute it.  

Denise Ferreira da Silva describes The Entangled World as “neither the cause nor the effect of relations involving separate existants, but the uncertain condition under which everything that exists is a singular expression of each and every actual-virtual other existant.3

Her description is one of ontoepistemological entanglement that gives way to the embodiment of future consciousness.

There is no end
To what a living world
Will demand of you.

From Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Each of the five discrete projects in the Earthing group are separate, different but entangled through the procedural processes of creative explorations that were undertaken through reading, writing, sharing of audio and visual sequences and through discussion of artistic processes. The five researcher-practitioners Lisa Walder; Marie Louise Juul Søndergaard; Stacy Lo; Vanessa Graf and Belén Cerezo have tended to the future with care for each other by sharing memories of places, through speculation on planetary events and fabulating the future of and through earthly elements.  By attending to the fragility of the complex biosystems of co-existence they create an imaginatively lush growth of foliage,a haven of outgrowths: roots and shoots, mechanical trees from technological wastes and ways for water, travel through space and of journeys to places that awaken new consciousnesses.

It is a garden of micro-species that show the “other-worldly” in this world. It demands new configurations of looking and seeing to grasp the massive impact of minute organisms for our future existences as Marie Louise Juul Søndergaard’s I moss you shows. Lisa Walder’s Oscillating as many, just as one makes these organisms tactile through clay models projected in rescaled relations while Vanessa Graf’s Radicle territory uses technical networks to root the garden of computer parts that sprout mechanical shoots. In Vital Fluids, Stacy Lo allows a momentary soaring through the skies as a glimpse of space exploration while Belén Cerezo recalls a grounded search for a literary consciousness that forms the Notes for the persistence of things.

1 The first is drawn from a western reference of elements; solid (earth), liquid (water), gas (air), and plasma (fire).

2 See Stacy Lo, The Five Element-Movements:

“Chinese philosophers have a different idea of the ultimate elements comprising the cosmos from their Greek counterparts. 

The early fifth-century BCE philosopher Empedocles from Acragas (modern-day Sicily) pioneered the theory of Four Elements (or Roots)—Air, Water, Earth and Fire—along with two opposing forces—Love and Strife—that bring change to the structure of Nature. 

Plato and Aristotle accepted the Four-Element theory in their pursuit of truth, with Aristotle introducing a fifth element of aether as an uncorruptible, heavenly substance. 

The conceptual basis of Yin and Yang is developed in tandem with the Chinese thought of Five Elements—Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. The cornerstone of Taoist philosophy, Yinyang depicts a nature defined by the complementariness and interconnectedness of seemingly contrary forces such as dark and light, negative and positive, feminine and masculine. 

For Empedocles, every living organism—human, animal and plant alike—consisted of varying quantities of the Four Roots determined either by Love or Strife. The material-based Four Roots is in contrast with the Chinese Five Elements which, in more precise terms, are more akin to Phases or Movements. The Five Elements are not only in a state of constant change but also always generating or counteracting one another. For example, while Water normally nourishes Wood, Wood could deplete Water, yet it could feed Fire, it stabilizes Earth and moves Metal. Fire bears Earth—think of a volcanic eruption—but it could burn Wood, melt Metal, evaporate Water. While philosophical, the Chinese concept of Five Elements is widely applied in much of East Asia’s everyday life, including practices of fengshui (geomancy), medicine, music and martial arts.” 

3 “On Difference Without Separability”, text by Denise Ferreira da Silva for the catalogue of the 32a São Paulo Art Biennial, “Incerteza viva”

Earthing: Embodying Future Consciousness, Jyoti Mistry © 2022

Background image by Lisa Walder © 2022