Crow Journal 16

29 / 06 / 2023

Thoughts about crows, sightings, encounters, communication ... 
As this research project comes to a close, I feel I have learned a lot and would like to frame some areas going forward that I would like to focus more on in this research and in research in general.

1) The invocation of the thing, the thing of the imagination, rather than the actual thing, and the difference between those two things. It would have been very easy in this research to go down a path of observing and filming real crows, in a kind of natural history way. This would not have worked as an artistic research, though it would have fed into a later artistic research. The crows I am actually interested in are imaginary and symbolic and exist already in our minds. Had I gone down a route of scientific observation of crows, then the real crows and their behaviours would have overlaid the symbolic and imaginary crow in my mind. This might actually have had the opposite effect of distancing from an emotional touch stone that an audience can relate to.

2) Involving others is amazing. It is so so fruitful for me to involve others in my work in easy and simple and consensual ways. This does not involve me telling others what to do or employing others (for example, my idea of asking a friend to film crows for me and I pay them) but rather sending a fishing line out there and seeing what people bring back. It is very interesting to work with others’ joy and interest.

3) As an autistic person, I am relearning how my focus works and what is ‘real’ work and what is work that I am doing because I feel that’s what is expected of me. This research has been much more successful on this front that previous researches, and generally research outside of the context of a practical task (among them, making a performance). I felt much less that I was going through the motions and much more engaged. 

4) Learning by doing. This is key. And actually, it is important in research that the process of the doing is forefronted and the success (or otherwise) of the final product is de-centred. So in this research, the outcomes, such as the costume and the film and the script and the performance experiments and these writings, are much less important than what I learned by doing them. Just because the outcomes aren’t of a standard that I am 100 % proud of at times, it doesn’t mean that the work getting there hasn’t been hugely insightful. Making the costume and the film taught me so much, even though both are still rough prototypes in some ways.

5) Longform and autistic longform and allowing something to play out slowly. In a longer research process like this, it is important to allow the mind and activity to wander somewhat. Slow, unfocussed at times. There is a frustration in allowing this to be a work method, but also it opens up new areas.