let us go better – Gavin Fraser

let us go better, a piece for live voice, fixed media electronics and film, serves as a journey that dreamily explores human interaction with nature. The text is a combination of excerpts of both Henry David Thoreau’s book Walden, as well as Mary Oliver’s poem Sleeping in the Forest. Both texts deal very differently with being surrounded by trees, alone in the wilderness. At its core, this work explores the line between human experience and intelligence, and nature’s forms of sentience. To reflect the human element, the origin of almost all of the sounds heard in the piece come from the human voice, with the exception of the sound of paper rustling (for this, I used my copy of Walden) to create the surreal forest soundscape. There is also the processed sound of a metal door clanging, where the narrative moves away from nature towards an industrial sound and landscape. From the text, certain vivid images came to me, and from that I created a narrative explored in the short film. Our lead character experiences shifting environments, as they are led deeper into a strange, frozen, tree-laden world by a sort of forest spirit. In this journey, there is a repeating invitation to a deeper but potentially more frightening experience of our relationship with nature, and the inherent death of some aspects of the human’s modern-day existence.

Text (sung excerpts):

Oliver: I thought the earth remembered me, 
her dark skirts, her pockets full of lichens and seeds 

All night 
I rose and fell, as if in water 

Thoreau: I drink at it… how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away… 
If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats 
and feel cold; if we are alive, let us go 

Oliver: By morning 
I had vanished at least a dozen times 

Into something better