I remember laying in the grass, not once, but many times in my childhood. I can recall the smell of the earth and the greenest smell I can think of; cut grass, I can recall the bugs I followed in the grass and the warmth of the sun in my hair.
These memories belong to the large collection of traces, that spark the interest in exploring a new topic. Traces like smells, idea’s, observations, objects, materials, etc. that can be the starting point of a new project, but that can also help a jammed project further or that end up as ingredients in a project.
Traces like these memories were the starting point of the project Attempts to understand a field, 2019. They sparked my interest in the green carpets that I, especially because I am from the Netherlands, am so accustomed to that I never really looked at them or thought about them. Two-thirds of the Netherlands consists of agricultural land and more than half of the Netherlands is grassland. I wanted to know what is there; in, under, on that green carpet. What kind of worlds would I discover? How to approach a field? And how to get to some understanding of the things I would find there?
The problem was that I am indeed a city girl, with few to none connections to farmers, but I knew I wanted literally a field to study. Then I remembered the few times that I talked to a young farmer at some parties at my friend’s house. I decided to ask her for permission to follow her field for a while.
Because I understood quite soon that a field of three and a half acre is a very big project to take on, not only because of the actual size of the field but most importantly because I didn’t have a clear and small research question. I just wanted to experience and find out what was there. An open, artistic approach to understanding the field.
I thought the ways I would approach the field would be as important or even more important as the topics in the field that I would study. Therefore I named the project Attempts to understand a field because to me the project consists of a collection of attempts, ways of approaching a world that is still full of mysteries to me. Sometimes I feel that I get a glimpse into what the field is, sometimes I feel like I can connect some of the things I found, that I gain some insights and sometimes I am confused and I feel like my attempts lead nowhere.
I collect all the attempts in categories to keep some clarity in the overload of results that the attempts are generating but of course, these categories are not complete at all, nor are they very precise. There are attempts that are about collecting (information, samples or more personal points of interest) and there are attempts that are more about making connections, how do I relate to the field (encounters) and how can I transfer the experiences I have in the field to places outside the field (translation). All of my attempts, I collect on this website.