Petra Skibsted – Changeable As In Liquid—A Conversation
The following is an excerpt from our newly released Festskrift IV. A collection of reflections around the phenomenon of RHYTHM – written, illustrated and recorded by musicians, graphic designers, DJ’s and multidisciplinary artists.
Petra Skibsted is a Copenhagen- and Berlin-based techno artist who releases and performs under the moniker Peachlyfe. Their contribution to Festskrift IV consist of both the written component presented here and an auditive part available in our Sounds Archive here.
Cast: Person 1, Person 2
It is early morning. We look to the sea where the sun is not yet rising. To the left the sky is a thousand shades of red and blue. To the right it is still dark, and the moon is easily visible. Two people of no particular creed are sitting on a blanket halfway on the grass, halfway in the sand. They look radiant.
Person 1: Hey sibling!
Person 2: Yes friend?
1: I’ve been thinking a lot lately.
2: About what, hun?
1: About water… I am severely confused about it, and I would love to have your opinion. How do you feel about it?
2: Hmmm. That is a difficult ques- tion I think… I have mixed feelings. What type of water are you talking about?
1: I understand what you say. There are many kinds of course. Let’s start with the water we drink. How does that sit with you?
2: Ooh I love drinkable water! I would say my favourite is sparkling water. Have you ever felt that sensation on your tongue? The sound when you open the bottle, the cute drop- lets on the outside on a warm summers day? Ooh and that feel when you finally get to quench your thirst after a four hour danceathon! Sheesh, that is one of my favorite things.
1: That does sound like fun, but have you ever had a drink from a creek? When you go for a hike, in the beautiful nature, you look around – oh a deer, “hi dear” you whisper, not to frighten it. You hear the gentle sound of a swift flowing creek. “oh perfect, I just felt a thirst, let me find that creek”. You find it, easily, and get on your knees. “Could I have a tiny zip of you?” you ask, and of course it’s all good, have as much as you want! Ah that is one of my favorite things.
2: It seems we feel differently about this. That is OK.
1: Indeed, but now that I mention nature, what do you think about rain?
2: Rain is quite lovable I think, at least around here. It can be a bit annoying if you’re out for a walk, but then you just get under a tree and listen to the beautiful sound. Of course I’m talking from a privileged point. It is one of the most important things of our ecosystem, but in some places it is also devastatingly dangerous.
1: Did you know that it rains on other planets?
2: What do you mean? There is no water on other planets – at least not enough for it to rain.
1: Yeah, I know! It rains, just not water. Some scientists from NASA think that on Saturn it rains diamonds.
2: You’re kidding, I’m sure. Right?
1: No no, for real! I don’t remember it 100% accurately but Saturn’s intense lightning storms can cause the methane molecules in its atmosphere to break up, leaving carbon atoms to float freely and start falling to the ground. They then transform into graphite as they travel through Saturn’s dense, layered atmosphere and eventually get pressurized into tiny diamond pieces. But about 36.000 kilometers in, things get too hot and the diamonds decompose into a mushy liquid.
2: That is fascinating. I have no words.
1: So how do you feel about lakes?
2: Lakes of diamonds?
1: No, silly, lakes of water of course! I need to know what you think.
2: Hmm, I am conflicted I think. Lakes can be beautiful and you can have a refres- hing dip on a warm day, but they can also be full of death! This scares me. Plants naturally grow in and around lakes, but sometimes lakes and ponds can get an overgrowth of plants, algae, or bacteria. In many cases, humans are responsible. Chemicals that are used on lawns and in agricul- ture (like nitrogen and potassium) wash into our water systems. Once there, plants and algae have a feast on this “food”. Sometimes overgrowths of cyanobacteria can make the water scummy and turn it a blue-green color. Cyanobacteria produce compounds that impact the taste and odor of water, make fish unpalatable, and produce toxins that affect human health. Scientists are still stu- dying the causes of these blooms.
1: This is scary and makes me sad. Why would anyone want to kill a beautiful lake? I’ve always been fascinated by lakes. Especial- ly bottomless ones! They are so full of mystery, magic, and poetry. I like the fact that there are places in the world humans can’t go. It seems that everything humans touch looses its magic. Not that we shouldn’t be here, but we shouldn’t be everywhere if you ask me. The day there are no more places untouched by humans, that is the day there is no more magic in the world. I hope it never happens, but I guess this is why there is much less magic now than before. Did you know that there is a lake in Romania called The Eagles Lake or The Bottomless Lake where eagles can grow younger if they drink the water? This is excit- ing to me. I wish I was a forever young eagle.
2: Oh yes, lover, wouldn’t it be wonderful to just sore?
Our main characters sit for a while without speaking, listening to the waves quietly crashing on the beach. They hold hands and look to each other. It is like everything around them comes to life, not threatening them, but still, it feels urgent that this moment and these surroundings are not to be taken for granted.
1: Ugh skat, isn’t that the most beautiful sound you’ve ever heard? It is almost unbearable!
2: Oh baby, I was just about to say how I love the sea in so many ways! It’s like it just understands what’s important. The sea is endlessly monotone but still forever moving. It understands the need to change, the need to be liquid. The rhythm of water is the ultimate music to me. The sea becomes whole in unity with its surroundings—like and unlike themself—but what is for sure is that there is no status quo with the sea. I feel that the rhythm of the sea is infinitely repetitive yet strangely unique. The transience of it is fascinating.
1: Like trillions of sentients coming together with the rest of the elements as one huge brute force only to disperse into different units, every time just for an instant.
2: Exactly! They are planning how to punish us for our abuse and at the same time reward us with their awesome presence and grant us their life-giving knowledge. It is quite confusing.
1: I think we think alike, regent! Some say the sea is quiet, but I think not. I hear a different song every time I submerge myself in the water. I hear songs of unity and I hear bal- lads about its unrelenting revenge. We might not understand it’s way of communicating but that doesn’t mean it’s dumber than us. More like the opposite.
2: I’ll drink to that. The sea shows no mercy. The sea kills all its enemies with swift force, and nurtures its kin with parental love. It is strange, I love the sea, yet I know it will kill me.
1: That is not so strange I think, fren. It is as with The Invisible Gods. We only love them because they can kill us.
The sky is slowly lighting up both to the right and to the left, and the moon is no longer visible to the naked eye. Everything around our main charac- ters is quieting down, yet the sky seems to be on fire. One thousand fireballs are colliding in the sky and projecting immense heat on our friends. They lie flat on the ground, wishing they could become one with their surroundings.
1: I wish we could be more like liquid
2: That would be a treat right now!
1: Just to become one with each other, and slither downwards. Down beneath the grass, the dirt and join our siblings down below! It would be a treat, but we can only imagine.
2: It is strange and unfair. We consist of up to 60% water yet we are not 60% percent as wise as water and we are certainly not liquid.
1: I think maybe we should refrain from talking about fairness. We are not owed anything from this world.
2: You are right. I am only sad I am not liquid.
1: But you are something else. I think we should not envy the water, but strive to adopt its good qualities. Not try to be it, but be like it.
2: Sometimes I have water coming out of my ear piercing.
1: 2: What do you mean? Sometimes, when I’m maybe doing laundry, or working, or something else, water just drips out of the piercing hole for no apparent reason.
1: I’m sure it has its reasons.
2: Hey friend!
1: Yes, sibling?
2: How beautiful was the show we just witnessed?
1: Ooh, it was very beautiful indeed. Very beautiful indeed. I think I have never felt anything like it, but I will definitely feel something more intense in the future.
1. https://www.usgs.gov/centers/kswsc/science/cyanobacterial-blue- green-algal-blooms-tastes-odors-and-toxins-0?qt-science_center_ objects=0#qt-science_center_objects
2. https://www.usgs.gov/faqs/why-are-some-lakes-full-algae-and-thick- plants?qt-news_science_products=0#qt-news_science_products
3. https://slate.com/technology/2012/12/space-weather-tornadoes-dust- storms-hurricanes-acid-rain-on-other-planets-and-moons.html
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