FOP


Tilting towards Change: Winter Solstice (Tea in the Dark #2)
01.07.2020, 6:20 pm
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watercolor images (top and bottom page) for Tea in the Dark, smudge studio 002019, dots/angles mark the sunset/sunrise tea staged for tea on Winter Solstice 002019


The cloudy grey afternoon had started to transition, almost imperceptibly, into the longest night of the year. Glancing at our watches, we knew we had just over an hour before darkness would envelop the space. We put a kettle on the stove, switched on the camera, and carried Tilt of the Earth teacups to the brightest part of the apartment near the eastern windows. As we approached sunset, the pace of the light’s changes sped up. Shadows deepened rapidly and filled corners of the room. We wondered at how quickly the time and space of transition from light to dark was now taking place.

Winter Solstice 002019 occurred on December 21st at 11:19pm in New York City. FOP/smudge studio marked the occasion for by preparing tea in the waning light of the 21st at 3:19pm (sunset 4:31 pm). Eight hours later solstice occurred in the dark of night at our geographic location on Earth. Eight hours after solstice, we greeted the weak morning light of the first full day of winter by preparing tea again at 7:19 am, on December 22nd. The “shortest” day of the year in New York had totaled 9 hours and 15 minutes of daylight, and 14 hours and 45 minutes minutes of darkness.

The concept for our second tea of the Koans for the Anthropocene: Tea in the Dark project was to bookend nearly the 15 hours of winter solstice darkness by preparing and sharing tea within the changing light leading into, and out of, the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. This tea was held in acknowledgement of the cosmological occasion itself, and as an opportunity to attune our human bodies to the earth’s tilt, the seasonal changes of light and dark that it creates, and the ways it has shaped and afforded the evolution of biological life on our planet.

To document the deep dome of darkness that we spun into during these 24-hours, we photographed a day-long time-lapse of the changing light, comprised of 302 images angled at the 23.5 degrees of the earth. The time-lapse began at 3pm on December 21st and completed at 3pm, December 22nd. We varied the lapse between images to document the relatively rapid transitions through civil, nautical and astronomical twilight into night (images were taken every 2 minutes during twilight and every 15 minutes overnight).

tiltnightdigital still, from Tea in the Dark (winter solstice), 002019

December 22, 002019, 7:30am

Moving into our third month of the Tea in the Dark project, we realize that the project enables us to more easily maintain an awareness of cosmic forces and events that intimately shape our daily lives. It also supports an embodied sense of Earth’s changing location as it orbits the sun. We feel as though the sensibilities generated by marking the winter solstice with Tea in the Dark will stay consciously active between now and the June 002020 summer solstice. We are already noticing the slight changes in light that will build to the full brightness of summer.

At varying scales and temporalities, our orbital path around the sun is full of such yin/yang alignments, including March’s spring equinox and its autumn counterpart in September. These alignments aren’t merely dates on calendars. They are actual angles of light, speeds and movements of Earth though space, that casting of planet-scale shadows, warming of oceans, cooling of vast continents, triggering of mass migrations, incitements of storms and fires — all of which co-mingle unpredictably with emerging Anthropocene realities.

For us, the “dark” of Tea in the Dark doesn’t refer to the literal darkness of winter’s night. It is a medium for exploring ways that humans might live within the uncertainties spawned by the rapidly changing material conditions on Earth — and for inviting the humility required to acknowledge that these changes are not all about us.

While the 23.5 degree tilt of the earth is the primary force behind seasonality and the long dark winter nights in the Northern Hemisphere, a complexity of forces is currently affecting longtime patterns of how weather and climate unfold on Earth. As winter solstice took place in the north, December 21st marked summer solstice for the Southern Hemisphere. Sunlight bathed cities such as Sydney, Australia in nearly 15 hours of intense, relatively direct sunlight. And as we write this post in early January of 002020, summer wildfires in the Southern Hemisphere have fast become some of the most severe on record, compounding the worldwide material consequences of the urgent climate emergency underway.

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Additional details for our winter solstice tea can be found on the digital chakaiki for Tea in the Dark, listed under Tea #2.