“Waves All the Way Down” explores the connection between my emotional experience and the natural world depicting an immersive, liminal space existing somewhere between waterscape and mindscape.
It is dedicated to my brothers who not only shared the same watery womb with me but were also present during my formative experiences with bodies of water. They were there when our mother encouraged us at a young age to not be afraid and to hurl our small bodies into the waves at Manly beach on Guringai land. I remember being dunked and pulled under and those breathless and seemingly endless moments pinned to the sandy bottom as the weight of waves held me down.
They were there as we drove around Darug land/The Blue Mountains as children and I begged my parents to stop so I could dive into whatever waterfall, river or creek we passed, swimsuit or not, such was my passion for being off terrestrial land.
They were there when we explored our new ocean home in Onkaparinga, snorkelling on Port Noarlunga reef, and we gathered our courage to jump off the jetty into the clear water below.
Later in life, my elder brother Justin sailed halfway around the world on a tiny yacht. I remember his stories of endless horizons and epic storms. He described a windy day north of the equator when the seas were big and there were no people or land around for weeks. He remembered thinking it was marvellous that all this amazing weather was happening on earth completely absent of any human observers and also thinking that if he drowned it would all be ok because it all just seemed so big and glorious.
I think me and my brothers share watery souls. Water connects us through memory and experience, and to a feeling more significant than ourselves, a sense of beauty and ineffability that is difficult to put into words. Yet I feel that we understand each other when we look out over a great expanse of the Southern Ocean where we meet every summer as the sun sets.
It was Freud who articulated this notion of ‘The Oceanic Experience’. An experience he described as a ‘sensation of eternity, a feeling of being one with the external world as a whole. A state we experienced in childhood where there was no distinction between what was inside and what was outside, where our mother was us and we were our mother.
Perhaps water connects me to a time when I wasn’t so separate from my brothers at all.
Perhaps ‘Waves All the Way Down’ is a fantasy of complete submersion.
And yet a fantasy of complete submersion is not a benign fantasy.
As sea levels persistently rise, there are islands in the Torres Strait that will be inhabitable within decades. The philosopher Timothy Morton has described climate change as a ‘hyperobject’. Meaning that it extends beyond the human conception of space and time, and is difficult for us to imagine or visualise. It’s an object that exists everywhere and yet can be difficult to spot. An object that is capable of invisibility to those who deny it. Yet it continues to exert its influence within the complex, myriad systems of our world. It is both encroaching and already upon us.
- Alanna Lorenzon, Written on residency at Bilpin international ground for creative initiatives (BigCi) March 2022