After meeting, a long-living survivor of A.L.S. and being exposed to his adaptation of life, I became fascinated toward the idea of breathing, conscious and unconscious. The sounds of an automated ventilation machine breathing his “breath of life,” provided an almost haunting sound of the consciousness of existence. Breathing while unaware is of course effortless, yet adding consciousness to breathing creates a form of exertion. The fascination with breathing led into ideas of the struggle relative to both the environment and the ability to communicate.
Footage was captured at several locations where environmental concerns were prevalent including industrial areas as well as two separate nuclear power plants in both Michigan and Ohio. The sounds of the ventilation machine were recorded and inlayed into footage taken showing scenes of a rural area followed by a nuclear stack. A poem titled Listen scrolls across the screen in Morse code, the fashion in which Wilkinson communicates. Several sounds of breathing were collected from various individuals. It was interesting how panicked and aware one became including myself as we become conscious of our own breathing. I added this sound as well to the film. The film was later projected in rural settings, a coffee shop parking lot, scrap yard and several locations in a civic centre. Onlookers were confused as to the message of the film, which generated the desire to play with communication and struggle.
I began experimenting with patterns of breathing through breathing exercises, poetry and Morse code. Using Wilkinson’s poem Breathe in Morse code, participants were asked to breathe the dashes and dots with long and short breaths. The collection of sound was somewhat symphonic. Visually, it appeared as though the poem being read was sheet music. Most intriguing was that the desire to create an exhaustive state or struggle to breathe, became fluent in harmony.