Meditations on Ursa Major and Taurus: A Thinking Path

Meditations on Ursa Major and Taurus is a thinking path – an animation-propelled walking meditation on differing ways of being.

Promoting the reality that our universal view is not THE universal view seems more important than ever.

My work with archaeologists has, without ever consciously planning it, carried me further and further back in time. Propelled by intuition, chance, or perhaps external agency, I have drifted back through the (to put it in simple terms) Iron, Bronze and Stone Ages (New, Middle, Old…) and into geological time.

This journey has given me an insight into the evolution of contemporary society – and made me curious about the differing mindsets of farmers and hunter-gathers respectively. That’s putting it in somewhat dichotomous terms that don’t reflect a nuanced reality – but nevertheless it’s an interesting thing to contemplate. Just why did we take up farming? In practical terms it doesn’t make a great deal of sense yet farming made the modern world – in all its good and bad facets.

Anthropologists and archaeologists have wrestled with this question at great length – and now that we in the twenty first century face a series of existential crises, it feels like there is a pressing need to examine who we are, how we got here and where we are headed. 

So much of what we are is indicated by our relationship with the land; the way we manage it, exploit its resources, divide it up and so on.

In the course of a residency at Winchester Science Centre, home to the UK’s largest planetarium, I became intrigued by the way that the night sky reflects different culture’s universal views. We see the Plough – whereas in the same collection of glowing dots the Saami see an Elk hunt, the Iroquois a bear hunt and Inuit cultures map the whole collective differently as a herd of caribou ‘Tukturjuit’.

There is quite a lot to process in all this – and, like Charles Darwin amongst many others, I’ve always valued walking as a meditation or problem-solving mechanism. So, I made a collection of flipbook-boxes that could be affixed to trees and fence posts, thereby creating a ‘Thinking Path’ – a means of reflecting on these matters either alone or as part of a group. 

Each path has it’s own ‘trail guide’ with a short text for each flipbook-box. This, along with the hand-cranked imagery within the boxes, sparks thought relating to an aspect of the narrative – which can then be discussed or contemplated along the way…

I first trialled this idea through a residency at the beautiful Plas Glyn Y Weddw, Llanbedrog with funding from the Arts Council of Wales.

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