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I am currently working on an abstract to be submitted to Moving Mountains: Studies in Place, Society and Cultural Representation.

The Diligent Seeker: A hard-won equilibrium

Following the completion of Newtonʼs pendulum deflection experiment in 1774, Schiehallion became the yard-stick by which man could at last measure himself against the infinite space of the universe. It is for this reason that I have come here with my camera and tools in hand: to gather in a vision from the top of the mountain.

As a practicing artist who often works on mountains and hilltops, my own experience tells me that certainty is fundamentally elusive when in such direct contact with elemental forces. A high degree of risk and exertion is required to complete a work in these circumstances. It often seems that in this environment artworks choose when and how to make themselves, keeping me enthralled by placing certainty just beyond reach.

Climbing mountains is a methodology that underpins my practice by facilitating entry into a place in which physical space and a self-reflexive state of mind are conflated. Looking from the vantage point on the mountaintop my ‘selfness’ is suddenly made clear through the perception of the world as being ‘dense’ and therefore irreducible to me.

If the mountain is to be understood as a measuring tool or a quantifying agent, then the question as to what we are measuring naturally arises. Presenting a body of practice-based research relating to Shiehallion provides the basis from which further lines of enquiry can be extended. Drawing on my own attempts to maintain a hard-won equilibrium upon the mountain for just long enough to perceive human anxiety in the face of elemental forces, I will lay out a series of questions exploring the summit as a site of mobility and resistance.

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