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Stone Quarry Hill Art Park, NY State, USA

Excavated land after dowsing for water

Project report, Reiko Aoyagi

“A very strong bright light was shining onto the long grass in the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park Upper New York State. I was immediately drawn to the environment of the Park which still maintained a wild nature. It was a huge park with a variety of trails. As time went by, I gradually began to become familiar with the environment there. Looking at the vast landscape from the top of the hill, I thought about the other side of the world. The Art Park had a quiet and meditative nature, but this quality seemed to be all at the ground level. I felt I would like to go into the ground. The tyre patterns made by the farmers’ tractor inspired me to create stream lines by digging the ground to make streams suggesting the water table beneath and streams on the other side of the world. I made a sketch quickly. Coincidentally I knew there was an old well nearby. When I talked about my idea to an artist Kim Waale, she suggested I should use dowsing to search for water. I got very interested in her suggestion and started to gather information on it. Then, one morning, I actually tried dowsing myself using a Y-shaped twig. I was a little skeptical at the beginning, but in the end I was really involved seeing the pointed end of the twig moving downwards like a magnet. Judging by this experiment, all that area seemed to have some water underneath the ground and this convinced me to pursue the plan.

My intention of excavating the land was to soften the earth and to release the energy beneath. This was also the search for water. In this way I wanted to explore the connection between this place and the other side of the world.

However, I was aware that digging the ground about 30 meters long in this manner could be seen as making a scar in the field. My proposal didn’t go ahead straightforwardly and it took some time till it was approved by the committee. However, this was a good opportunity for me to examine my plan again carefully. It could be seen as a scar in appearance, but it could also be seen as a process of regeneration through revealing the earth underneath.

It was a big day when I was able to dig the ground using an excavator with the site managers’ help. There was the fresh smell of the moist dark soil with its stones. A strong summer light flooded onto the soil. Soon the skin of the soil dried. When it rained, the lower part of the ditch was filled with water. Nature changes all the time and regenerates itself.

The possibility of observing this change from afar in a real time using a web cam came up during conversation with a director Natalia Mount. I immediately found it a very interesting idea to create a flow through the airwaves as well. It seemed to make a complete cycle in this way.”