As So Above Below – A collaboration with Lizzie Thomson

Lizzie Thomson and Erin Woodbrey, As Above So Below, Two-channel video installation, Duration 19 mins 24 sec

“We acknowledge the Nauset and Wampanoag Peoples and the Wangal and Gadigal Peoples of the Eora Nation as the first and continuing custodians of the lands and waters on which our artistic collaboration has taken place. We pay respect to their Elders, past and present and extend our respect to all First Nations Peoples.

The following video and experimental text is derived from 20 months of email correspondence and synchronized sessions of crawling. Through the nearly two-year-long period, we devised ways of working physically in space “together”. Our main physical practice was crawling. We would set up sessions of crawling concurrently… like a 10 am Sunday crawl in Sydney at the same time as a 6 pm Saturday crawl in New England. Aside from chance passers-by or other animal visitors, crawling was carried out in solitude. Our collaboration took on an interesting hybrid of very physical, in-person work and something more immaterial and of a virtual realm.  

The text in the two volume, As So Above Below, includes fragments of our thinking developed together across different times-zones and oceans. We think of this text as a non-alphabetical index. It is an indication of our process as we wandered and crawled through various fields of sensations, gardens, and geological formations. In keeping with our inquiry into non-linear perceptions of time, this book need not be read from start to end. It can be picked up for a brief glance and put down again, opened at any page, read backwards or recycled into new forms.

Each time we crawled together, we documented the action by taking video from our phones. These videos were then compiled and edited to produce As Above So Below, a two-channel video installation. Accompanying the video is an index entitled As So Below Above that corresponds to the text and chapters of the video and is composed from our emails over the last year and a half. 

Through crawling, we transformed our relationship to the land and put our bodies simultaneously somewhere both above and below ground. We slowed down. We sometimes became more heavy-handed, and at other times produced a softer way of traveling, of seeing, observing, and being. Pairing the footage and text created from the same time but in very different places and, in fact, very different times, we placed time inside time. The night crawled into the day, the day crawls into night.

To film while crawling was tricky. We held the phones with our teeth, balanced them on our backs, or secured them to our foreheads with makeshift headbands. The resulting footage is immersive, clumsy, bodily and subjective. In contrast to high production filming with a more stable, clean and controlled setup that allows for the viewer of the film to remain detached from the ‘landscape’, we hope that this work brings you with us on a close-up experiential journey.”