Becoming Corn-root God

I am the corn-root spirit entity. Before I enter the soil... Or is it after I emerge? I travel. My spirit travels between hosts, each adding their experience to my own. I am ever evolving, learning, exploring.

Through my travels I have etched my history, my relation in the rocks. I have collected, categorized the origins of existence and mapped my plane, its environs. My trailblazing has been carefully recorded, studying, marking, protecting, transcending specimens. I have looked to the stars and I have felt my place among them. I belong. My sisters.

Now I feel the need for a place to reflect, to observe, a place to keep my memories, my education, to rest. I build it. I build it from my surroundings to seclude, intimate. Cocoon, bower, gall? I build it to attract another? To share.

about markings

a scythe-borg manifesto

-with regards to culture and permanence-

From Old English and German roots, the -borg is the borough that is a civic community atop a hill. Through scything, this civic community is opened up to a relationality that becomes an inclusive organism with porous borders; the land that surrounds the hill is vast and has no limits —let us let go of the fear of the beyond.


In holding and putting a scythe to work the multiple actions that conform this particular plurality are carefully invoked. First there are hands holding, feet touching, sustaining a verticality, a tract of movement between land and sky. There is also a handle and a system of parts that historically developed into scythe. There is need and propelling —an intention, a relation— there is growth and trimming; there is affect and touch, there are bodies. There is a history with metallurgy and a history with woods. A sylvan wisdom dancing as it spells. There are also (zoe)biotic systems of ebbs of life and decay. Then and always there is the sun and rain. No matter which land is witnessing this action, it is most probably distributed within a structure of land ownership that historically parceled it according to topography, resources and potential human use, regardless of the intricate paths of biomasses that are/were part of it already —there are power relations of all sorts.

Scything is an assemblage that is motion to caress.

I’d rather be a scythe-borg in a forest.

And yet as I get here, slowly taking days to ‘land’ on this land chosen by Holes in the Wall Collective for a cascading group of artists to respond to a field of maize left alone to its own devices two years ago (Lat: 40° 26' 2.9904"; Long: -75° 43' 43.302"), where the geopolitical and biophysical collide with my own perspectives, my intentions change —I have arrived. Because it is then that I realize that scything might also be intruding into the webs of life existing aside the human —all the more-than-human that consistently builds up across, against and along our doings as cultural phenomena that we are. I reconsider the idea of scything the maize field as I see it recovering from years of monoculture, its micro-formations of plants and minerals and animals that I don’t want to infringe on. I decide to scythe in a field across the barn instead, finishing the markings already left by a machine –the borders with the forest let to live and grow as the terrain seems to be too unleveled for this machine to cope with.


Drawn to markings that signal layers of meaning past and future, as many of the other artists in this collaboration have been, I take up impermanence to mark ma(i)ze-like connections within a multiplicity of dimensions including the unknown. I set off with a wheel barrel to collect stones in the maize field, not knowing first what I will do with them. As I approach the field I am attracted to the 7 bird-feeders Dana Hemes built before my arrival reflecting on the need to replenish nitrogen to the field via bird poop and positioned as the star cluster Pleiades, the Seven Sisters, which historically has been used in the planting of maize by indigenous people. This celestial entity that is part of the web of meanings within the macro geopolitical and biophysical maze of Mahiz as represented in this micro landscape, this ‘abandoned’ field in Pennsylvania, holds the sky and the dirt together and all entities between them with forces known and unknown, named and unnamed. I collect the stones around each ‘star bird-feeder’ within a radius of seven large steps, then bring them out of the field and repurpose them to hold the markers for yet another signaling. As I begin collecting stones, I am struck by another realization—I should not be surprised but I am, as I’m surprised in my hands and in my body as it hurts when I disrupt life when I remove a very superficial stone from the field. I should not be surprised to find such exuberant micro-cosmos involved around each stone and yet I am, as life and the inert blend their and my boundaries in invisible ways. Thinking about this, it a-mazes me how every single step we take towards creation is also a step towards destruction, as if there was no way around it, at least temporarily. I carry on, attempting to respect all there is within the field, knowing of this impossibility. Such ethical aporia faces me under the sun as I grab and dig and pull and place each stone into the cart. Such ethical conundrum follows me to the typing of these thoughts that hope to communicate the limits of doing, undoing the limits. I continue the saga under clear sky as in a trance. For doubt may be the arrogance of the intellectual and creative yet it is also the parameter of doing, because ethical immanent resistance is born from it.

bibi calderaro, spring 2016

NESL Species List - New Jerusalem Branch // aNNE PERCOCO

Species Available:

Taraxacum Officinale // DANDELION:


Solidago // GOLDENROD:

Cardamine Hirsuta // HAIRY BITTERCRESS:

Rumex Crispus // CURLY DOCK:

Mentha Arvensis // WILD MINT:

Ranunculus Abortivus // LITTLELEAF BUTTERCUP:

Apocynum Cannabinum // DOGBANE:

The Next Epoch Seed Library is a collaboration between Anne Percoco and Ellie Irons, with contributions by many others.

More information can be found here:

If you paint a stump orange in the woods, and no one’s around to recognize it, is it Art? //Artcodex

Hunters orange. the color of safety, and of demarcation. an alien color in the natural landscape; a contrast to the azure sky and verdant vegetation.

a neighbor comes across a pair of painted works. the top of a cut stump, and its corollary, lying long along the ground, a flat circle also painted fluorescent orange. thinking it the works of vandals, the stump gets cut off and carted away and the trunk is rolled over.

This made us think about the position of our work. if you make art in the woods and no one gets it, is it still art? is tagging nature with a can of fluorescent paint a disruption, a frisson that creates a deeper contemplation of nature, or is it an act of vandalism, an impulse of the ego to leave a mark, a territorial pissing, defacing the tranquility of nature with a profanity contrived in culture.


As the title explains, Blaze of Whimsy was originally an exploration of fancy.  On our wanderings through the woods and fields, we used our hunter’s orange to mark interesting spots and objects as we came upon them.  No plan or structure other than the desire to walk and look informed our process.  

We knew this work was temporary, and fully expected the ‘natural’ forces - animals and weather, to degrade these works in their own time, following their natural rhythms.  

What we didn’t expect was human interruption - which is what happened.  A helpful neighbor, who has taken on the hospitable task of cleaning trash and other ‘unnatural’ elements on the grounds, found our works, and removed some of them, thinking they were acts of vandalism.  

We were annoyed and surprised.  Why didn’t this man see the creative oddness of what we had done?  What kind of high school kids would take the time to painstakingly avoid getting paint on the bark of the tree stumps they were painting?  Why couldn’t he see that this was art?!  

After our initial response, we were intrigued by the questions that this occurrence raised. Questions about ‘Nature’, questions about ‘Culture’, and questions about the context in which the two might interact.

A common way to think of ‘Nature’ is as a pure space, separate from human involvement, that has it’s own rules and occupants.  

By this definition, culture is frequently thought of as the opposite of ‘Nature’ - a conceptual space entirely defined by humans.  Science, arts, civil works.

So where were we out there in Pennsylvania - in nature?  Clearly the young forests and exhausted field are the products of human intervention.  

So maybe we were in culture instead.  Centuries of human use had harnessed nature to its own ends.  Architecture, agriculture, civic engineering were all around us.

Our works were made bright orange to scream out “CULTURE!” in a way we thought couldn’t be missed.  What we didn’t think is that our bright orange ‘culture’ isn’t in contrast to nature, in fact ‘Nature’, as a pure inhuman realm, does not exist (at least not in Pennsylvania).  Instead, what we are working with here are two different, and possibly conflicting ‘cultures’: rural and urban.  Our works are speaking the language of the city, possibly the university, but not of the farms and forests.  The helpful neighbor dismantled our work because he was placing what we did into the only construct these spaces had for it - vandalism.  

Of course he ended up having a conversation with one of the artists and now our work has been replaced.  What’s gonna be a bit harder is convincing the squirrels who stole our orange hazelnuts to give them back...

In the end, I think we can talk about nature, not as a space, pure or otherwise, but rather as a conversation taking place between humans and all the other voices that shape the world.

Contemplating the cosmos from the perspective of the corn roots

"A plant should be regarded as though it were a human being who's head it planted in the ground" (Rudolf Steiner)

Wandering this old corn field with the remaining dead corn stalks still in the ground, corn roots reveal themselves as magic wands inviting me to consider the unseen/unknown; reading Rudolf Steiner's lectures on biodynamics and the play between earthly and cosmic energies in the formation of all things living, surrounded by beautiful minds discussing cutting edge science aligning with the deep wisdom in our bones; watching the moon and the stars; breathing with the land; wondering if roots emanate from my head (invisible antlers of sorts) am I grounded in contemplation? ...I invite you to contemplate the cosmos from the perspective of the corn root.

Zea/Corvus/Homo... [HEMES]

How do humans and nonhumans affect soil nutrients? How does monoculture crop growing shape soil and how does soil shape humans and nonhuman growth? 

I began my investigations by taking samples from 7 sites located throughout the retired corn field: revealing varying levels of phosphorus and potassium, but all low in nitrogen. Through commercial cultivation, humans have become a system component that takes too much, spiraling away from balance and sustainability. How do we (humans) more efficiently and respectfully participate in the energy exchange system of farming? 

PVC bird feeders are placed on the land in the formation of the Pleiades (Seven Sisters) constellation-- used by northern hemisphere agricultural communities as an indicator for the planting and harvesting of corn. Each bird feeder features a fiber optic 'corn silk' tassel, illuminated by an earth-battery-powered LED. The color of the LED represents the nutrient quality of the soil of each specific site. Seed invites birds to perch and eat and  poop, returning nitrogen to the soil below. 

Next Epoch Seed Library/ Anne Percoco

Although the Next Epoch Seed Library usually focuses on urban habitats, we are interested in any environment changed by humans. This week, I've been paying attention to this cornfield. Having been left fallow for two years, it is undergoing old field succession and hosts several species of grasses and wildflowers.

NESL, a collaborative project by myself and Ellie Irons, re-imagines the traditional seed bank for the oncoming Anthropocene. Rather than gathering and preserving agricultural heritage from the pre-Monsanto era, this seed bank focuses on weedy species most likely to survive and thrive in a landscape dominated by human excess.

Here's a great description of old field succession, from a Rutgers Biology teaching site:

"When a plowed field is abandoned, it represents a new habitat for plant and animal species to colonize, but because it is basically bare soil, it is a stressful habitat for many plants...This environment is first colonized by a group of species called pioneer species.  Pioneer species are usually characterized by having long-lived seeds capable of remaining dormant in the soil for many years, long-range dispersal ability, and the ability to utilize resources rapidly, allowing them to grow and reproduce quickly.  Many of them are included in that group of species commonly called weeds.  Among the earliest species to arrive are ragweed, crabgrass and foxtail.  After a year or two, these are joined by various species of asters.  These pioneer species change the environment; as they die, dead plant material (plant litter) accumulates on the soil, and this helps to hold water in the soil."

I've assembled a special, site-specific collection of seeds from seven species, and I'm installing a permanent, outdoor library "branch" at the eastern end of the cornfield to house these seed packets. Next post, I'll describe each species!