Workshop: The Embodied Musician: Creating the Foundation for Interpretation and Movement

Workshop: The Embodied Musician: Creating the Foundation for Interpretation and Movement, Anita King

This session is based on the following premise: In performance, one’s movement must be as nuanced and complex as the music. Dr. Anita King explores how the music itself is the catalyst for musicians’ coordination by examining the parallel organization of musical structure and coordinate movement. She explains how music organizes in a layered way; the many details of the melodic/rhythmic “surface” of the music are organized and shaped by the deeper, slower-moving elements revealed by the harmony and phrase structure. The musical “text” can be “translated” into movement which also organizes in a hierarchical manner. The slower-moving parts of our bodies (our legs and torso) organize and support the faster movements of arms, hands, and fingers.

A music teacher’s job is thus two-fold. Teachers must simultaneously give students tools to understand the structure of the music they perform as well as information about the organization of their bodies. Music study reveals how relationships on multiple levels create a piece of music that is an organic whole. In an analogous way, when human movement is truly coordinate, the individual parts of us also work together in constant relation to the whole.

This integrated approach to performance pedagogy represents the culmination of King’s work over two decades as a performing artist and university teacher of advanced music analysis and performance courses. Since 1997 she has engaged in research and training in human movement as it relates to performance, becoming a certified teacher of Body Mapping and the Alexander Technique.

The workshop is highly interactive and combines lecture-demonstration, performance of illustrative excerpts at the piano, and short movement activities and explorations with the participants. The workshop introduces Body Mapping, anatomical information relevant to musicians’ coordinate movement.

Panel: The Performance of Experience

Camille Buttingsrud, Embodied Reflection

Philosophers investigating the experiences of the dancing subject (Sheets-Johnstone 1980, 2011; Parviainen 1998; Legrand 2007; Legrand & Ravn 2009; Montero 2013) unearth vast variations of embodied consciousness in performing experts. The phenomenological literature provides us with definitions of reflective self-consciousness as well as of pre-reflective bodily absorption, but when it comes to the states of self-consciousness dance philosophers refer to as thinking in movement and a form of reflective consciousness at a bodily level – as well as to dancers’ reported experiences of being in a trance and yet hyper-aware – we are challenged in terms of terminology and precise descriptions.

After empirical research on dancers’ experiences and studies of the above-mentioned philosophies of dance, aligning this material with Husserl’s and other phenomenologists’ descriptions of reflection and embodied self-consciousness, I find it plausible to acknowledge the existence of a third state of self-consciousness; a reflective state experienced through and with the embodied and/or affective self.
The interviewed dancers describe their bodily self-consciousness on stage with terminology phenomenology traditionally uses on the order of reflection: they are (bodily) attentive, explicitly aware of the other and the world, disclosing their experiences through transformation (by means of the body), (affectively and/or bodily) articulating what they experience pre-reflectively. This could indicate reflection, yet, there is a simultaneous lack of thinking and rational control, reports of artistic black-outs, someone else leading their arms and legs, being in a trance.

There seems to be an experientially lived as well as theoretically seen experience of the self where the subject’s bodily aspect of self “thinks”/reflects/accesses herself as object through/in/by means of her embodied activity, in which she is completely immersed.
Embodied reflection is neither mystical nor exclusively experienced by artists. It is the universal human experience of being profoundly focused through non-conceptual aspects of the self.

Ivani Santana, The Network and The Dance, or a cognitive artifact embodied by a situated cognition

This article discusses the dancer in the telematics environment according to the Embodied Cognition perspective. Grounded on the concepts of Situated Cognition, Extended Mind, Cognitive Artifact (Clark, 2003), “Actionism” (Noë, 2004, 2012) and Body Image and Body Schema (Gallagher, 2005), two artistic projects will be analyzed: “Personare”, networked performance between Brazil, Chile and Portugal (Santana 2014) and “Memoirs in Time”, an interactive telematics installation with three distributed niches (Santana, Canavezzi, 2014). If the perceiver (the dancer) knows this world through her/his sensory motor skills and these are in play when s/he interacts with this milieu (Noë, 2004), it’s possible to conclude that the telepresence brings to the dancers different ways of how to perceive the partner and how to perceive oneself, and so, new body images and body schemas will arise, which are responsible to play an active role in shaping our perceptions (Gallagher 2005). This embodiment process in this environment is consonant with the understanding of the human being as a symbiont who has coupled the artificial devices created in our culture (Clark 2003). Thus, the humans can be considered cyborgs because their mind and self are coupled in cognitive artifacts, it means, the humans are able to use no-biological systems to solve every kind of problem. The artists (choreographer, dancers, musicians, etc.) and the engineers/programmers off-load cognitive work into this world making the telematics field a cognitive niche built with cognitive artifacts involved in a process of organizing functional skills into cognitive systems (Hutchins, 2000:8). The artists, engineers/programmers and audience are embedded in a cognitive niche full of artifacts that expand their minds and re-size their bodies.

Stahl Stenslie, Embodied Perception in Somatic Sound – telepresentation

The paper presents artistic and practice based approaches to innovative haptic interface technologies for creating interactive compositions and user experiences inside of a periphonic, 3D sound space. Somatic sound is here presented as a) as technological innovative musical instrument, and b) as an experiential art installation. One of the main research foci is to explore embodied experiences through moving, interactive and somatic sound. The term somatic is here understood and used as in relating to the body in a physical, holistic and immersive manner.
The Somatic Sound project explores sound installations where the user can i) corporally control the playback of multichannel sound through touch, and ii) simultaneously experience a three-dimensional audio space as a physical continuum. The project combines the production of music through touch-based, multi-channel 3D sound with the simultaneously placing the performer into the position of a listener. The research investigates how this enables new and innovative interpretations.

The paper will discuss different theoretical approaches to somatic sound from Descartes to Pragmatism and Phenomenology. It will apply Heidegger’s description of breakdown scenarios to analyze ‘natural attitudes’ in the meeting with human computer interfaces and more generally with technology. Fundamental here is the often-misunderstood difference between Heidegger’s Present-at-hand and Ready-at-hand concepts. Focusing on the importance of physical experience, an argument for embodied consciousness is advanced. This argument follows from a dialectic comparison of Merleau-Ponty’s understanding of the natural attitude: the way we behave in the world as if it is not problematic with Shusterman’s notion of Somaesthetics.
Contributions of the paper will be introduction of new discourse of what embodiment implies in media art and demonstrating this through artworks where embodied interactions turn action into meaning. Further the paper will outline new practices of inquiry and knowledge making through the emerging field of Somatic Computing.

Doris Dornelles de Almeida, Multisensorial experiences and embodied knowledge of professional dancers during ballet class

This research aims to understand the role multisensorial experiences plays in professional ballet dancers’ acquisition of embodied knowledge in their daily ballet class. Ballet classes, rehearsals and performances are all situated in specific socio-cultural settings, and form the core of the professional and symbolic embodied knowledge dancers experience. The ballet class is a daily practice that has a special place in the dancers’ lives as it that follows them even on holiday.
Whilst this research is rooted in Dance Studies, other fields such as Neuroscience, Cognitive Psychology (Cognitive Science), Humanities (Philosophy, Anthropology and Phenomenology of Perception), will be touched upon when relevant.

Although academic interest in the senses has grown (Van Ede, 2009), there is a neglected field within ballet studies concerning the relation between sensual information and acquisition of skills by dancers in the daily ballet class. My personal experience as a professional dancer for the past twenty-four years and as researcher for the last five motivates this study. My earlier work on dancers’ embodied identity in ballet class, rehearsals and performances was useful as a stepping stone for this sensuous ethnography with professional dancers.

The methodology included ethnographic descriptions, my active participation in ballet class and rehearsals, interviews with dancers, video recordings from these practices and performance analysis of ballet practices.
I argue through a phenomenological perspective, that in the ballet class professional dancers acquire embodied knowledge through a dynamic interplay of sensorial bodily experiences, such as vision, audition, smell, touch, breath, heartbeat, body temperature, pain, pleasure, kinaesthesia, fatigue, energy and emotion. Better understanding of this thematic can enhance teaching and learning methods in dance.

Panel: Embodiment and Evolution

Jondi Keane, Art and the Realization of Living

Descriptions of life in the sciences, through experimentation and observation, may provide an accurate snapshot of ‘what a body is’. For artists, these snapshots are a seductive challenge to experiment with what a ‘body can be’. In this paper I will address the ways in which artwork and art processes perform and contribute to the understanding of the enactive approach to cognition.

Darwin ‘s (1859) pre-adaption, reframed by Gould and Vrba (1982) as expaption and Kauffman’s (2000) autocatalysis and adjacent possible will be used to discuss experimentation in Art that deploy James’s radical empiricism (experiences are themselves experiencable) and affordances that can themselves become affordances (Post–Gibson). Examples drawn from the sciences (Gallese, 2011, cognitive reuse; Bach-y-Rita, 1972, sensory substitution; the case of de-afferent Ian Waterman) will be discussed alongside selected artworks that explore this exaptive potential. In particular, the works of Arakawa and Gins (2002) and their procedural approach offer insights into using the built-environment as research devices for asking questions in a 360degree body-wide fashion.

Art can be positioned as a space for 1:1 scale experimentations on life, offering opportunities to build the conditions that challenge automatic perceptual and conceptual modes of processing. The experiential prompts within artworks enable the distinctions between organism-person-environment to be reconfigured, inviting daily research and collective devising. The key proposition for this paper is: Art prompts and primes the reconfiguration of boundary identities across organism-person-environment to bring the higher levels of expanded and social cognition to bear upon processes of selection and self-organization.

These re-orientations of thought, feeling and making, expand the concerns of art to address the collective capacity and interaction of processes required for “the realization of living” (Maturana and Varela 1980).

Margaret Wertheim, Art as Embodied Evolution telepresentation

As Varella and Maturana have noted, “life” is characterized by its dynamic, autopoetic qualities. The totality of life on Earth constitutes a planetary-wide body that continually morphs and self-generates in time. Just as living systems are inherently process-oriented, so in the art+science practice I have developed over the past decade at the Institute For Figuring, a primary concern has been to produce aesthetic projects which evolve through dynamic embodied engagement brought about by communities of people. The artworks we create at the IFF – such as our Crochet Coral Reef and our fractal origami projects – all begin from humble material seeds (a crochet hook and a ball of yarn, or a stack of business cards), whose structures are allowed to evolve under the influence of simple algorithms enacted by many participating contributors. Our Crochet Coral Reef has now engaged nearly ten thousand women in a dozen countries on five continents and constitutes one of the largest, longest-running participatory art+science endeavors in the world. These projects are open-ended experiments in which surprisingly complex forms emerge, demonstrating through material craft practice insights of complexity theory that now inform our thinking about life. Here, acts of making become the driver for vast unexpected taxonomies of form that parallel the development of life itself and which collectively constitute bodies of knowledge realized in mediums such as yarn. In this talk I will discuss the IFF’s practice at the intersection of art, science and craft, with particular attention to the interplay between material and form that begins to develop when one opens up a project to the generative space of community engagement.

Christine Wertheim, Transformative Structures

Craft practices are the original digital technologies, literally performing with our digits complex algorithms embodied in knitting patterns and other notational systems. This talk focuses on the evolution of algorithmically structured digital crafts, contextualizing these within contemporary understandings of mathematics, and considering its manifestation in various materials including Jacquard weaving, pre-transistor ‘core memory’, and Crochet Coral Reefs. The talk draws on the thoughts of Charles Sanders Pierce, recent work in the philosophy of mathematics by Fernando Zalamea, and current feminist theories of embodiment.

Takashi Ikegami and Victoria Vesna, Bird Song Diamond installation in Large Space

We will present and discuss our collaborative work based on the interactive installation Bird Song Diamond. This installation integrates evolutionary biology, artificial life, spatial sound, mechatronic art and interactive technologies. The BSD interactive installation design is based on the patterns of communication within the spatial networks of birds in nature initiated by Dr. Charles Taylor, ecological biologist at UCLA.

The BSD installation was constructed for the Empowerment Informatics Virtual Reality Space in collaboration with Dr. Hiroo Iwata at Tsukuba university (dimensions are 18 (m) width, 9 (m) depth and 7.4 m height) at the University of Tsukuba. Participants can enter the 3D stereoscopic projection of an artificially programmed flock of birds called boids model. Parametric surround sound pointed at specific quadrants of the space also allude at the reality of the experience coordinated with the passing of the virtual flock.

Participants are also invited to fly inside the space utilizing a harness that lifts the person based on the flapping of wings we provide for them. They have markers that track the position of each participant allowing them to interact with the virtual environment and become part of the flock. During the demonstration, participants were lifted and suspended in mid-air using the motion base and at the end of each show, he landed on the ground quietly where a diamond crystalizes from there. A tracking system consisting of twenty ceiling cameras were used to track the positions of program participants. The EMP Large Space is suitable for making larger immersive display with respect to effective screen volume.

Our contribution to the panel, we will be to discuss the advantageous of cross-disciplinary collaboration based on the experience of the BSD installation in relation to embodied and enactive theories of cognition and their implications for understanding evolutionary processes.