Libby Barbee
Speaking Across the Divide
2013
Tables, tree, typewriter, audio recorder, speakers, recorded audio
62"h x 92"w x 31"d
Perhaps best expressed by the American Transcendentalists, the desire to locate spirituality in the realm of the natural is fundamental to understanding the relationship between Americans and the American landscape. Speaking Across the Divide explores this quintessentially American desire. Taking American nature writing as a reference, the piece provides a performative platform through which the viewer is invited to commune(icate) with nature through the act of typing an invisible message. The message is translated to a living tree through an audio recording of the sound of the typewriter’s keys.

The act of communicating is always an attempt to bridge the blindness of our subjective experience. Words are the light that allows us to see beyond ourselves; and yet in the presence of nature, we find them to be insufficient tools. Speaking Across the Divide is an attempt to imagine a common language that could lead us out of our human blindness to find ourselves connected with the natural world.
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