The Breath of the Geologic

The Breath of the Geologic - by David Paton

The Breath of the Geologic ii sketches out a personal affinity for the worked landscapes of Cornwall. There is evidence etched across the land of how the granite has shaped, and in-turn been shaped, as communities have waxed and waned over millennia. It is this reciprocating rhythm and ritual of manual practices, drawn from my work and research with Trenoweth Quarry in Cornwall, that informs and directs my understanding of immersion. The immersive rhythm is emphasised in the film through the visual editing and the sculpted audio recordings of quarrying practices.

The film guides you through some of these granitic landscapes, where the quarry becomes a lens through which to highlight how acts of making align with the multiplicitous coproductions of dwelling, family and livelihood. The immersive nature of dwelling, indeed of place, is always becoming; its specific natures assembling into part known, and part unknowable narratives.

In the western limits of Cornwall myth is woven through the landscape, where for at least the past 5,500 years the granites have provided mineralogical and spiritual sustenance. Scattered above and through the landmass are an entanglement of built structures that evidence the dismantling of the granite for tin and copper ores, shelter and ritual gatherings. These resources and potentialities are distributed within a crystal matrix which varies greatly as one travels west to east through the plutons of Lands End, Tregonning-and-Godolphin, Carnmenellis, St Austell, Bodmin, and Dartmoor in Devon.

Granite has been grown, it has a grain, and in this way the granite performs in multiple axes and planes, and the ripples of its ‘growing’ continue to affect the bodies and lives of the people who work it. Over centuries, industrial practices have resonated with ritual and Magick, and sea land binaries have dissolved through the entangled lives of fishing and mining communities. The literature of granite-working is evidenced in farms, mining tunnels, fogous, ‘hedges’ and menhirs. These ancient features are tangled up with modern housing estates, factories, refuse tips and busy towns. Idealised promotions for artists’ colonies and cosy fishing villages nestle alongside poverty and environmental degradation.

All of this sits upon an immense granite body; a mineral-rich giant whose once fluid mass emerged from deep within the earth between 300 and 275 million years ago. These magmatic intrusions cooled just near enough to the surface to drive global economies, and nurture a sense of belonging within its people. In this sense, to split a granite block is to ask nothing more than the universe to give up its secrets, where upon the Breath of the Geologic is enacted as inhalations and exhalations from vastly differing times and spaces coalesce.

David A Paton, 2019

Artist: David Paton
Film Title: Breath of the Geologic (ii)
Duration: 15mins

Breath of the Geologic (ii) is an experimental film based in the worked granitic landscapes of south west Cornwall. Drawing on his experience as a quarry worker, the rich textures of the land are folded into an immersive examination of livelihood, craft and the everyday.

Please use headphones to fully experience the sound on the film.
For further information on the granites of south west England please visit Tracing Granite on the Groundwork website.