Trade clvi | Month 21 | Autumn
Trade changes more things than you can possibly imagine. Take it from someone who has been doing it for years now and take it from all the other people in the world who are doing some form of trade. Like most things, we can theorise and speculate all we want but unless we do something, we often cannot see the full value or effect. One of the reasons for this is because of discovery through practice. When I started The Pixel Trade I had no idea what psychological and social changes would result in such a project. Now I have a better understand and still every day something else is revealed. Trading with Zana and discussing her discoveries and realizations took this kind of thinking to a whole new level. Smart girl...very smart.
The Pixel Trade with Zana was to document some of the things she has traded for in exchange for a skill that she has been researching and practicing for some time now. Hanging indoor plants and gardens. In exchange for her craft she has traded for plates, surf tours, other plants, chillies, artwork and many more things. She is also an architect, so her eye for aesthetic is nothing to take lightly. Make sure you read the interview below, it is a very thoughtful reflection on every single question.
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Interview with Zana
Describe your most memorable adventure as a child.
The cumulative memory of the adventures I had with my little sister growing up on an isolated property in the rugged alpine country of the New England tablelands, spending all our time outside of school hours galloping around on horseback, exploring the wilderness. Packing picnics and riding off into the bush, jumping fallen logs, tying our horses up on trees for the day and building civilisations made of sticks, dry grass and mud for the native wild animals. Fossicking for fools gold in the creek, smoking eucalyptus bark 'rollys', jumping off giant moss covered granite boulders, and eating wild blackberries. So few kids are afforded such freedom and intimate experience of nature these days.
Tell me about your trade concept.
I am exchanging the outcome of a craft I have honed, for the outcome of a craft or a skill another person has honed. In my case, I have been acquiring a deep knowledge of indoor plants and experimenting with turning them into suspended gardens, inspired by the ancient Japanese art of 'kokedama'. I have exchanged my hanging botanical creations for paintings by artists, a tour of Sydney's secret surf spots from a savvy surfer, handmade furniture for my room by a carpenter, having my bike fixed etc.
At the same time as exploring an alternative economy of direct human to human exchanges, my agenda with this project is to 'plant' a plant into the lives of urban dwellers, and in doing so, connect them in a small way with nature. I hope that the micro- action of caring for this little piece of nature ignites in people a broader mental connection between their actions and the wellbeing of nature as a whole.
What is it about trade that you enjoy?
That direct association of the time, energy and love you have put into something for the the time, energy and love somebody else has put into that which you receive in return. The abstract medium of money distorts and gets in the way of experiencing those things, which are essentially the base of the transactions we undertake in our daily lives.
What is the hard thing about trade?
That it is not more widely accepted and used. I am currently living in the hills behind Byron Bay, exchanging two hours of outdoors work on the property each day for my own studio cottage to live in, and I really feel the value of renting that cottage in a direct, physical way. I still earn additional money from my work as an architect, but it makes me realise how positive it could be for our relationship with 'work' if we were able to incorporate more trade into our lives.
You are also an architect, what projects really get your mind going?
Projects which recognise the fundamental need which human's have to commune with nature, and are driven by an ambition to facilitate this connection.
What kind of changes have you seen in the architectural industry over the last five years?
I have seen the digitalisation of the design and fabrication of buildings grow rapidly, while the throwback movement of people wanting to escape the city and live in a tiny compact house made from natural and recycled materials in the bush has grown just as quickly. I am sure there is fertile ground where the two can intersect.
What is one of the most dangerous times of your life?
What were you doing this time last year?
Riding out part of the Winter in a teepee near Byron Bay. Surfing lots of Winter waves. Designing my parents house... not dissimilar to what I am doing now! Though last time I was trying to convince myself to go back to the city where the 'opportunities' supposedly are, while this time I have taken it upon myself to create the opportunities up here myself and stay living in paradise.
If you could teach a group of kids one thing, what would it be?
How to grow food from seed.
Describe your most memorable adventure as an adult.
Summertime stumbling through the Himalayas in Ladakh for a week with my friend Rose. We were wearing birkenstock sandals which we had picked up fake in Calcutta, and which fell apart as we walked. We filled our backpacks with bags of bhuja mix and spicy fried chickpeas meaning we could fit no change of clothes. We were too stingey to buy a map before we set out. Every so often we would come across a tour group of very well-equipped trekkers with fancy gear, and would have to ask to photograph their maps. We would hope that by evening time we would find a little house offering up a place on their floor for us to sleep. Sometimes we didn't. I carried no camera, just a high quality sound recorder. I recorded the roar of the melting glacial rivers gushing down valleys, and the howl of wind on 5000ft passes over mountain tops where the air was so thin we could barely manage to walk. That was a real adventure because we were completely cut off from the world as we knew it. Nobody knew where we were, nobody could contact us. It was just us and the mountains.
If you had to recommend a favourite music album, what would it be?
'Charcoal' - Brambles