During our April session, we waited. Omikemi was expected but not present. Omikemi wasn’t well enough to make it to the session but each day we hoped. As a result we started thinking about waiting, waiting as part of the work, as part of the focus. Waiting as material.

At the end of the April session at Queen Mary the three of us assembled some of our material and made a video for Omikemi covering what we thought would help give a picture of the work we had been doing.

We were delighted to get a message back from Omikemi: “What came straight away was this marine business and waiting, made me think of Jonah, Jonah in the belly of the whale. And Jonah waiting and being in this incubation period — which is quite classic isn’t it — incubation as a symbol of transition.”

Somewhere in my mind Jonah’s big fish, or whale, merged with the Angler fish (which is actually not that big). Here are some notes from my notebook from the May session with Omikemi, Jemima, and me — alas no Tara — at South House:

In the belly of the town was a fish pond.
In the middle of the fish pond was a whale.
In the middle of the whale was an ocean.
In the middle of the ocean was a fracture zone.
In the middle of the fracture zone was the hottest place on earth.
The first place I ever saw wasn’t a place at all, it was just a bright glow and I went toward it.

How do you find something you don’t know? Where do you look to find it?

I’ll just be here waiting. I found infinity in a grain of sand. All things bright and beautiful were left behind long ago. Now we eat a special diet that makes our faces glow and we see only by the light in our own eyes. The long slow season stretches our whole life time. I’ve seen two other Angler fish in the past ten years. Today I’m feeling fully fed but in 3 weeks I’ll have to eat again. Work? What do you mean by work? I live, for this I eat, for this I . . .

Deep dreaming of pressure
When we are focused on the deep sea we are dealing with a set of conditions unimaginable from where we are. We know very little about what it is like and we use our imaginations. In what we have read and heard, the information that particularly struck me was the pressure that creatures of the deep are living under.

Not instantly but over time, not a little while but eons. Slowly we drifted to the bottom and as we fell, the pressure increased and some of us couldn’t take it. The ones who could, had to adapt. Soon the pressure was all we needed and there were fewer of us and cold and mostly without light and over generations descendants of our kind made their own light and those who could last longer between meals and who found ways to stick with their mates survived to bear offspring born under intense pressure. And now if we should rise to the surface, to heights of lesser pressure, there is nothing holding us together, our bodies disassemble, our particles free floating and distributing as food for creatures along the bottom of the depths and in the higher levels far above the deep dark sea.

Notes from a development residency for the project Skywater, Facewater, Underwater Waltz.

photo: K Christopher