The Treehouse Project

August 18, 2010

Margot Lystra, Landscape Architect and Margit Galanter, Movement Investigator + Dance Poet. SEEDS|EARTHDANCE 2010 Artists in Residence.

Download the Treehouse Project Summary

–A rock portrait and a precarious branch structure


The following are notes of materials we presented as part of the SEEDS Festival Community Day on July 17, 2010 at Earthdance, in Plainfield, MA. Treehouse Project is part of a larger collaboration on the relationship to site as seen through the lens of dance and landscape architecture.

Our practices evolved out of the rich intersection of researching site and making in it.  For this project, we allowed ourselves to hang out in uncertainty, giving ourselves ample space to figure out how to act and what to do in relation to a living site. The result is a practice that is both ethical and aesthetic.

Included here are some of the primary core ideas we developed over the course of our residency, a few of the tools we practiced, and the experiment proposal we conducted with the people present that morning.

Core Ideas

THE SITE IS ALIVE. Working in an environment is an ensemble activity.  A living or fallen tree, an old stone wall, a charismatic accumulation of branches, is a thing-being with its own expressiveness, history, self-organization, and live-ness.  Therefore working in any environment is working in dialogue with numerous partners.

RELATIONSHIP IS THE GROUND.  Being and doing are first and foremost a form of interrelationship.  Objects are not sealed, but interpermeable – thus all actions are inherentlyinteractions.

LISTENING.  Essential to partnering with a thing/being is learning its language, its self-organization, so that we can meet it in consideration of its terms and tendencies.  In this way we explore difference towards mutuality.

CONSONANCE.  When one’s action succeeds at being both deeply personal and fully interactive, a form of consonance emerges, forming a tangible, mutually open connection between individual action and other entities in the world.

SHIMMERING.  This work operates at the edge of perceptibility, occupying the edge between “as usual” and something more. In this way we tap into the “nature of” the thing/being and glow or amplify it.

TIME. It takes time to attune to the richness of landscape. Allowing this time provides for fascinations and connections to emerge, rather than thinking them up.

Some Tools

– work something to the shimmering edge of perceptibility

– use randomness (e.g. flinging) to work with the nature of a thing

– set up precarious structures – ones that ask to fall or be felled

– find vividness by releasing out through

– mend something

– give yourself a simple, compelling task and live in that task

Each of these tools elicits a myriad of questions regarding our role in the natural world, enabling us to confront and explore how to act and what to do in relation to our environment.

An Experiment for the Participants of our Presentation


At first, take time to explore and see what arises. After a time, find some entity out there that is of interest to you and try to understand it by making tasks that will reveal its self-organization. Whether this task/action focuses on sensing or on making something, its purpose is to build a relationship with a thing-being within this environment. If you find a task that really works, stick with it and see what grows.

2 Responses to “The Treehouse Project”

Beth said

August 13, 2010 at 12:46 am e

Lovely glimmers of your doings – I’m especially drawn to
“find vividness by releasing out through”

a conversation for another day?

Jennifer said
August 18, 2010 at 7:15 am


The core ideas are clearly and poetically stated. I am curious about what emerged, what kinds of meanings arise what is the “nature” of the relationship between these entities? The ethical side is quite powerful. The concept of shimmering to perceptability is beautiful.

what/who is perceiving what and who? I am so curious about the power of consciousness and imagination to shift perception. Looking forward to more


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