Liz Glynn on Building a Cosmological Yurt for Doug Aitken’s Art Train | BLOUIN ARTINFO

This article delves into the idea of using a yurt as an art intervention. Five artists were invited to each use a yurt and the five responses were different to each other. I like Liz Glynn’s idea of creating a maze inside the yurt and making it dark.


Smiling Woods Yurts – Assembly Video Demonstration


This video by Smiling Wood Yurts demonstrates how to build a wooden yurt. I watched it because I’m interested in building a model yurt out of paper and wooden sticks. The yurt shown in the video is too permanent for my purposes – I’d like my model yurt to be one that can be taken apart and put back together.

These websites give information on yurt building:—a-mongolian-yurt/

This website gives information on building a model yurt:

The following video shows a yurt being build from scratch. This is my favourite because I can see, rather than be told, what to do.

Adaptations: a short improvised film


The original premise was: “England is approaching revolution; rich bankers and corporate shareholders are the target of the under classes’ wrath. Escaping the tension of London for the weekend, two rich shareholders set up camp on Devil’s Dyke. The future is coming; they can feel the change.”

The underpinning theory was my belief that everyone, given the right conditions, will do what they can to help their fellow humans. Reading about psychopathy made me realise this is not true for everyone. The resulting film shows someone realising something is not right in her relationship with her partner.

Collaboration: The Psychopath Test

I finished reading The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson, who explored psychopathy as defined by Bob Hare. Hare created a twenty-point checklist, which lists psychopathic traits:

  1. Glibness/superficial charm
  2. Grandiose sense of self-worth
  3. Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
  4. Pathological lying
  5. Cunning/manipulative
  6. Lack of remorse or guilt
  7. Shallow affect
  8. Callous/lack of empathy
  9. Parasitic lifestyle
  10. Poor behavioural controls
  11. Promiscuous sexual behaviour
  12. Early behaviour problems
  13. Lack of realistic long-term goals
  14. Impulsivity
  15. Irresponsibility
  16. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
  17. Many short-term marital relationships
  18. Juvenile delinquency
  19. Revocation of conditional release
  20. Criminal versatility

Reading about people who have lots of these traits and, especially, the lack of remorse or guilt, made me realise there was a theory behind my film: given the right conditions, all humans will work for the greater good of their fellow humans; this, I realised, was not true. I wasn’t ambivalent about the purpose of the film and because this theory was subconscious, working on the film allowed me to gain insight into it.

This new-to-me knowledge allows me to see the actions of the actors in my film differently. As a man in a business suit, Hugo could be a psychopathic CEO (not all psychopaths kill or commit violent crimes), which means he is only interested in Cate on his terms and only for as long as he finds her interesting; in fact, he finds it amusing to toy with her intellectually and emotionally – it is a power trip. He is unlikely to self-reflect and take responsibility for his role in the unfair economic system or the pain he causes in his relationships.

Collaboration: balloon deflated by yesterday’s news


I filmed a piece of crumpled newspaper, with a deflated balloon behind it, on the pavement near the Marlborough Pub in Brighton. It caught my eye and I didn’t know why, consciously, but I filmed it. There was no wind and the newspaper didn’t move at all as I filmed it. In hindsight, I can see this was perfect for the film; however, at the time, I wished for a tiny breeze, at least, to ruffle the paper. I used this shot at the beginning of the film with the soundscape of the next shot over it. The sound of the wind contrasts with the stillness of the newspaper.

I showed my unfinished film to Edmund and Scott. Scott stated he didn’t know which of the characters was real – he was reading one of them as real and one as not real. Edmund stated it looked like one of them had seen something in the other one that could not be unseen. This resonated with me although I couldn’t understand how it related to me personally. I still thought the film was about two people going up a hill, self-reflecting and taking responsibility for their actions. It’s obvious to me now that Helen’s expression in the last shot represents the confusion, fear and sadness of someone who is going through disillusionment in a romantic relationship.

I decided to get into bed and read but, again, couldn’t concentrate on my book. I remembered I had The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson on my bookshelf. I began reading it and realised I had been working on this film under a strong belief: that everyone, given the right conditions, will do what they can to help their fellow humans, just because they can. One of the psychopathic traits is to feel no remorse or guilt; another is to manipulate; another is to lie pathologically. Reading about these traits made me realise my underpinning theory, which had been subconscious until now, was incorrect. I decided to focus on the relationship of the people in the film from this angle, whilst still acknowledging the man’s corporate status because he’s obviously wearing a suit (which could be because he impulsively decided to go camping (psychopathic trait no. 14 on Bob Hare’s checklist)).

Collaboration: the sound of the carrion crow



The all-black carrion crow is one of the cleverest, most adaptable of our birds. It is often quite fearless, although it can be wary of man. They are fairly solitary, usually found alone or in pairs. The closely related hooded crow has recently been split as a separate species. Carrion crows will come to gardens for food and although often cautious initially, they soon learn when it is safe, and will return repeatedly to take advantage of whatever is on offer.


Of all birds the carrion crow is the most detested by gamekeepers and country people who rear flocks of poultry, because it is the craftiest of egg thieves. Wild birds also suffer acutely from its depredations.

It is the habit of crows to perch like sentinels on the tops of isolated trees, where they can see what is going on in all directions. When birds are building their nests, their activities are observed and remembered by the watching crow, and in due course many nests are wrecked and robbed.

Later, when trees are more leafy and it becomes harder for the nests to be spotted, the crow is quick to observe other birds carrying food to their young and again he makes his merciless pounce when all has been discovered; this time he takes the chicks.

He may be considered a natural regulator of bird populations and to some extent he plays a useful part in improving the chances of birds which can manage to outwit him.

For many years past I have lived in marshy districts inhabited by a good many crows, which nest unmolested in tall riverside trees. These birds take nearly all the first clutches of duck and moorhen eggs that are laid early in the season. In a cold spring, the chicks which would have hatched from these eggs would in all probability die of starvation, whereas when further clutches of eggs are laid in replacement of those lost, the offspring stand a much better chance of survival.

If a bird loses its first eggs, it usually seeks a better concealed place in which to build its second nest and in any case there is always more natural cover from vegetation later in the spring. In learning to escape the vigilance of crows, birds also avoid the attention of some other predators, such as jays and magpies. They also tend to sit closely on their eggs and leave them, when they have to, with secrecy.

Outside the breeding season, crows often patrol the waterside, picking up carrion and attacking wounded birds in the shooting season. Some of them haunt beaches and estuaries where they eat shore-crabs and mussels, whose shells they crack by dropping them from a height.

They tend to hunt in ones and twos, unlike rooks which go about in flocks; but I have seen as many as 40 carrion crows in a bunch in early summer; these were all young birds which had assembled from several nests, to travel round in a gang, as is the way of adolescents.

You may tell an adult crow from a rook by the black feathers covering the base of its bill where the rook has a patch of bare skin. The crow’s caw is much more harsh and resonant than that of the rook.

In much of Ireland and Scotland, our carrion crow is replaced by the grey-and-black hooded crow; in the border zones, the two species inter-breed. Why there should be two distinct races inhabiting adjoining climatic zones is a mystery.

By Percy Trett

I filmed crows on Brighton beach this afternoon after deciding I wanted to use the crow in my film. I wasn’t successful in obtaining the kinds of images I wanted – I couldn’t get close enough to the crows. I decided to use sound instead and downloaded a crow sound from At present I’m uncertain why I want the sound of a crow, except that to me it sounds sinister. I think I read somewhere once: the crow represents the harbinger of death. I think the crow’s caw sounds harsh and intrusive.

Collaboration: journal 12 November 2013

I had a meeting with Terry Meade, tutor on my Homemaking and Unmaking module. I told him about my idea for the project after the Collaboration project: to create a womb-like structure that a single person can crawl inside and lay there in foetal position; there will be speakers positioned about the structure playing sounds of heartbeat, intestinal gurgles, breathing and external sounds of muted dialogue that is sometimes threatening and sometimes soothing. I also stated my interest in temporary structures that can be taken down and rebuilt, inspired by Cave of the Yellow Dog; I talked about the clutter inside the yurt in the film that packed down into two small wagons. We talked about objects in the home and how they help to keep identity on a continuum; this could be a potential dissertation idea. He gave me a book, OCCUPATION: Negotiations With Constructed Space, with a CD that has papers on it from a conference held at the university in 2009, advising me to read two particular papers: Knowing Occupations: the euretics of very small houses by Dr Jan Smitheram and The Minimum Home by Dr Ersi Ioannidou.

Talking about objects in the home inspired me to think about Hugo and Cate in my film. The objects Hugo and Cate have with them are: the collapsed tent, Cate’s bag and a flask of coffee. They are cold – the wind reaches inside the place where they are sheltering – yet, they do not leave. It is as if they needed to leave their homes, and the norms of the identities that their everyday objects help them to reconstruct daily, in order to reflect on their lives and begin to see differently.