Empirica’s Last Research Exercise of the Year

Posted on January 2017

A personal reflection by Ece Canli, January 2017


Doing research sometimes feels like plunging into icy water (with shock, fluctuation and urge), sometimes walking on fire (with patience, resistance and technique). But mostly, it feels both at the same time, a continuous shift in one’s physical and mental condition, an odd mixture of pain and pleasure, going deeper and floating on the surface. Within this dense experience and commitment, it is inevitable to get lost or lose sight. In these moments, I think, the best is to detach from your own bubble for a while, explore new mediums to articulate yourself and touch upon others’ stories, in order to reattach back better and stronger. For me it was what the exercise of Empirica, held in Villa Taavetti, Nuuksio on 16-17 December 2016, was about. Reattaching to our own inner selves and research processes, listening to diverse voices and exploring the best medium ever: the nature.


The exercise seemed simple, yet strong. Everyone took an hour alone in the middle of woods to find a meaningful connection point as a means of articulating the self, one’s own art-making, writing, research process, thoughts, doubts and questions. The result was an inspiring constellation of ideas and reflections embedded in the signs and traces of the nature whose power is usually overlooked in the mundane concerns and urban haste of academic responsibilities.


Experiences were various and rich. We visited and walked over a huge figure drawn on the icy lake depicting the research path of one of us, as a circular and interconnected journey. Then we shared another’s joy of freedom and the alleviation stemming from a recently completed research, sliding on the kick-sled. We heard the experiences of the ones who got lost while walking up on the hills, likening those bewildering small paths on the hills to the paths in a research journey. We also listened to another one pointing out how the nature is always and already a greater piece of art insomuch as that whatever we do looks like an an imitation or a replica of it, which was also probably thought or done by someone else before. Yet, this brings about the very stimulus to dig further and find one’s own idiosyncratic voice and motive.

This fine collective experience created a quite fine bridge between several realities and imaginations, as also a detachment from one cycle of time, at the end of the year. It seems that it will make us reattach to the new one stronger.