What poetry does best: the Harrisons' poetics of being and acting in the world.
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DOUGLAS, A. and FREMANTLE, C. 2016. What poetry does best: the Harrisons' poetics of being and acting in the world. In Harrison, H.M. and Harrison, N. (eds.) The time of the force majeure: after 45 years counterforce is on the horizon. Grantham: Prestel.
"Simply paying attention guarantees the transformation from a nature supposedly asleep to the work that displays nature’s strange vitality. Art is what attention makes with nature." This observation by Michel De Certeau, noted French philosopher of the everyday, writing the introduction to Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison’s (hereafter the Harrisons) seminal work the Lagoon Cycle (1974-1984), gets to the heart of the Harrisons’ project to understand and work with the agency of all things, and to recognize that attention is central to being and acting in the world. A question arises about how our attention, as listeners, readers, and viewers, is drawn into a work of art, or more specifically, how the Harrisons draw our attention through their poetics. One of the salient features of the Harrisons’ work is attention to what is actually present, in the sense of suspending disbelief. The particular form of attention that the Harrisons exercise aligns with the forms of attention found in improvisation - being in the moment of an experience and using the materials at hand. They see improvisation within the rich potential of inconsistency and contradiction in human relations with environments. This acts as a stimulus to the improvising of new futures.