Panel: Embodiment in Criticism and Connoisseurship

Joanna Ganczarek, Daniele Nardi, and Marta Olivetti Belardinelli, Am I here or there? Space and Action in Aesthetic Experience

When viewers approach a canvas that delivers a life-like, almost photographic rendering of a scene, the person’s perception of space and body might change considerably. Through a combination of perception and imagination they are transported from ‘here’ to ‘there’. They remain in the physical space surrounding an artwork but also engage in imaginary actions within the pictorial space. This situation exemplifies the account of multiple states of existence and the flexibility of cognition. It also highlights the connection between perception of space and actions that can be performed within it.
The aim of the paper is twofold: presenting experimental data on subjects’ experience of space and action when viewing Vermeer’s paintings (1) and framing the data within the wider theoretical context of embodied cognition paradigm (2).
Regarding the first objective, physiological measures (eye movements and body sway) will be described with particular attention to the indices that suggest that the imaginary actions and places have an effect on viewers’ bodies. With reference to the second objective, relevant aspects of embodiment theory will be discussed such as the concept of motor components of spatial cognition and affordances.

Daniel Weiskopf, Embodied Encounters: The Role of the Body in Art Criticism

In “The Body/Body Problem”, Arthur Danto argues that while the medical and biological sciences deliver new kinds of theoretical and practical knowledge about our bodies, art cannot do so. Rather, we understand artworks through engaging our “folk” embodied knowledge. I survey three ways that the body enters into the interpretation of artworks and argue that while embodied knowledge can be an essential tool and a corrective to certain theories of artistic representation, it also has sharp limits.

First, bodies are represented objects, and are therefore sites of interest, attention, and empathetic engagement. Mimetic theories such as Kendall Walton’s give a central role to imagination and pretense. Embodied cognition also emphasizes simulation in understanding bodily and mental states. But the limits of mimetic theories show up when encountering art that deals with detached or disassembled bodies, and thus aims to subvert these reactions.

Second, artworks, like bodies, exist in space, with surfaces and skins, interiors and cavities, skeletons and supports. Attending to these helps show the limits of philosophical theories of depiction, which treat images as if they were disembodied or purely formal structures. Our bodies are vehicles for spectatorship, and viewing artworks requires specific standpoints, postures, and contortions, which can produce their own emotional and discursive responses. Theories of interpretation that rely on a “disembodied” relationship to artworks, treating them as abstractions, overlook crucial facts about critical appreciation.

Third, bodies are a reservoir of analogies and metaphors. James Elkins argues that the body often serves as an abstract formal grid that can be projected as a scheme for interpreting the non-bodily world. But not all images and objects fit this formal grid, and where they don’t, embodied spectatorship breaks down. It is an open question how much remains comprehensible in artworks that stretch or break the limits of bodily metaphor.

Jonathan Chou, Phenomenology in Practice: Implications for the Art and Craft of Fiction

What can phenomenology teach us about the art and craft of fiction? Why and how does one write? Drawing primarily from the preface of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s seminal work, “The Phenomenology of Perception,” this paper explores a phenomenological theory of the art and craft of writing. Beginning from the dissolution of the Cartesian mind-body split, I argue that the imaginative act of writing can no longer be thought of as a translation or reification of a mental image, but must instead be conceived of as the means by which one creates the world and establishes the truth of one’s consciousness, or one’s being-in-the-world. Yet, as writing is not equivalent to perception, the art of writing must be distinguished from its craft. If the act of perception is always already begun, our understanding of our relation to the world is not; the work of description is an infinite task and cannot be completed so long as we are in the world. This is the responsibility of philosophy, Merleau-Ponty contends, to invite us to take notice of our relation to the world. I argue in similar fashion that a successfully crafted work of writing inserts a space between its reader and the world and by doing so awakens the reader to his or her own thoughts. Writing thus stands to suspend the movement of our being-in-the-world, to loosen “the intentional threads that connect us to the world in order to make them appear.” As the attempt to provide a direct description of embodied experience, to “[rediscover] that actual presence of myself to myself,” phenomenology may bridge the divide between philosophy and art and above all give writers new ways to imagine the purpose and execution of their work.

Claudia Villegas-Silva, Embodiment and Post- Human Aesthetic in Contemporary Latin American Theater and Performance

This paper explores three performances by Latin American directors and artists: Juan Carlos Zagal, director of Cinema teatro (“Historia de Amor,” 2013); Raúl Miranda (“Domus aurea” [Golden House], 2010); and Trinidad Piriz (“Helen Brown,” 2013). The three performances considered here constitute examples of the diversity and search for renewal of theatrical codes using new media in latinamerican theatre. Many practitioners of theatre today are in search of new aesthetic practices capitalizing on the many advances in technology. In order to demonstrate the way in which technologies are staged, I will discuss three plays which show innovative and compelling uses of technology that compel the audience to speculate on what it means to be human and critically question the post-human position.The three artists construct alternate spaces by mediating technology and gender as well as the idea of real time, space, and presence, consequently creating a post-human aesthetic. The use of new media lead s to the construction of new physical structures to house these types of performances because of the transformation of spatial and temporal perception caused by different technologies. These new spaces urge us to (re)consider notions of identity, consciousness and the organic body.

Susanna Melkonian-Altshuler, Knowing-how and artifact concepts

This talk is about the explanatory role of knowing-how for understanding the structure of some abstract artifact concepts. A non-intellectualist view of knowing-how will be presented according to which our phylogenetic capability to create new worldly items derives from trial and error experiences. This evolutionary notion of knowing-how will then be used to characterize artifact concepts.
In metaphysics, it is generally held that making objects involves productive intentions (e.g. Hilpinen 2011). The problem with this view, however, is that it is incapable of accounting for the nature of productive intentions. Where do productive intentions come from and how did we develop our very first ideas of artifact production? I am going to argue that artifact production knowledge can be derived from sensory-motor experiences. When our ancestors first manipulated new items they did not have any productive intentions, but rather developed them in terms of experimenting with nature and perceiving effective results of their actions.
An advantage of this evolutionary view of artifact production is that it connects to grounded views of cognition. On a modified view of grounded cognition, I will argue that the conceptual structure of some present-day’s abstract artifact concepts such as PIECE OF MUSIC or PIECE OF ART can be effectively explained if it is taken into account that “visual recordings” of first observed result objects played a major role in developing abstract artifact concepts.

Panel: Embodiment in Arts Education

Shaun Gallagher, The concept of joint body schema in educational practices in the performing arts

During certain types of expert performance, the performer’s actions are sometimes carried along in a way that seems to involve a kind of passivity. Høffding (2015) in an analysis of musical performance has pointed to four factors that are involved in this phenomenon: body schema, emotion, the music itself, and, in the case of playing music together, the other players. I’ll take a closer look at the connection between body schema and the intersubjective dynamics of co-performance. I’ll clarify the concept of body schema and it’s relation to practice, and I’ll look at recent research on the notion of a “joint body schema” (Soliman & Glenberg 2014) and discuss some implications for training in music and dance.

Melissa Bremmer, What the body knows about teaching music

This panel will be about embodied learning/teaching through/in the performing arts. From an embodied approach, the body is not considered as an instrument but as a primary signifier in the cultural transmission of musical and dancing skills – from the perspective of the pupil and of the teacher.

Three ideas in relation to embodiment will be discussed. First, the idea that the teaching/learning process in the performing arts is a multi-modal form of teaching/learning. Teaching/learning dance and music involves the entire body and all the senses: it is a living process that requires a bodily attentiveness and dynamical attunement of both teacher and pupil. Secondly, teaching/learning in dance and music is considered a participatory sense-making activity and is therefore highly relational. It is an activity that can be described as an embodied engagement process in which music and dance experiences are exchanged, coordinated and shaped between pupil and teacher and between pupils. Rhythm, pulse and timing are co-constituted and co-regulated in the interaction. The third idea is that art itself is aesthetic and expressive-affective. In learning and teaching music and dance meaning is created together: the aesthetic and expressive-affective meet, and from this meeting meaning arises. In other words, what is being learned settles in the body. Learning/teaching in music and dance is a relational, emergent practice in which the social, the physical and the cultural coincide.
The panel starts with an introduction by Shaun Gallagher about the notion of “joint body schema” as related to the performing arts. The other presenters will look into the implications of this concept for the teaching/learning in dance and music, connecting it to multi-modality, participatory sense-making and art as aesthetic and expressive-affective experience. The subsequent lecture performances enable the translation of the theoretical concepts into hands-on, lived experiences of embodiment in arts education.

Jaco Van den Dool, Learning with the body: investigating the link between musical interaction and the acquisition of musical knowledge and skills

Despite empirical evidence claiming that emotional and bodily processes underlie our cognitive decision making and social functioning (Yang & Damasio 2007), the pervasive body-mind dualism, the Cartesian split (Crossley 1995; Howson & Inglis 2001; Merleau-Ponty 1962), has been deeply rooted in education (Armour 2006; Bowman 2004; Chodakowski & Egan 2008; Powell 2007; Evans & Davies 1996; Reid 1996). This study aims at challenging the body-mind dualism with empirical research, claiming that conscious bodily participation significantly enhances the acquisition of musical knowledge and skills.

This paper examines the acquisition of popular music by young Nepali musicians for whom local traditional music occupies a preeminent place in their music learning process. The way they apply their bodily learning strategies in local traditional music to popular music sheds light on the way musical knowledge and skills might be acquired in general. Therefore, the central question in this study is how bodily learning processes in the form of interaction, gestures and entrainment result in the acquisition of musical knowledge and skills in popular music. The outcomes are based on data collected in Kathmandu, Nepal, from 20 band rehearsals
Derived from a qualitative video analysis and a binary logistic regression, two patterns of learning emerged, indicating that musical knowledge and skills arise out of bodily interaction between musicians. The first pattern, in which they mainly observe their peers or teachers, comprises of human action observation (Calvo-Merino et al. 2005), imagining the observed movements with motor imagery (Cox 2011) and connecting this to previously acquired musical skills. The second pattern demonstrates the transition from human action observation to conscious participation with the body. Consciously aligning the body with the dominant pulse seems conducive to the learning process. Understanding these patterns contributes to embodied music education and caters to body-mind learning strategies of students.

Eeva Anttila, The potential of dance as embodied learning

In this presentation I will discuss the notion of embodied learning and argue that dance can be considered a special type of embodied learning. I will also argue that dance may have yet undiscovered educational potential beyond learning dance. Research in physical education (e.g, Singh et al. 2012) suggests that increased physical activity during academic classes seems to be connected to better learning outcomes. Dance is most often a multifarious physical activity that involves multimodal processes, social interaction, various modes of reflection, creative processes, and performative elements. The combination of music and movement in dancing is yet another factor that in light of brain research seems to warrant more attention. In all, dance may connect non-symbolic, multimodal sensations with symbolic, cultural meanings in an embodied, performative activity where multiple meanings can be shared, negotiated and interpreted. The performance elements and cultural aspects of dance open wide possibilities for learning that is grounded in embodiment but reaches towards complex cultural meanings. During this presentation I will outline my current understanding on dance as embodied learning, developed through several years of research and practical work in dance education (e.g., Anttila 2007; 2013; 2015). My research connects theoretical views and empirical findings on embodiment, embodied cognition, social cognition and socio-material approaches with somatic studies, dance studies and performative studies. In my view, embodied learning implies that the body should be understood as the site and medium for all learning, and that embodied activity – both the actual movement and bodily experiences of the learner – is fundamental in learning. Understanding the significance of bodily activity coupled with reflective and relational processes is a key in developing a comprehensive view on learning, and may have wide pedagogical implications.

Carolien Hermans, Participatory sense-making in dance improvisation

Most theories on subjectivity look to social cognition from a representationalist point of view. Models such as theory of mind, theory theory or simulation theory all state that the mental state of other people cannot be directly observed and therefore our mind-reading abilities have to rely on common sense or folk-psychological theory. In contrast, the enactive account looks at the problem of intersubjectivity from an interactive, embodied, non-representational perspective. Enaction stands for the manner in which a subject of perception creatively matches its actions to the requirements of the situation. It refers to a pathway in which several related ideas come together and are unified: autonomy, sense-making, embodiment, emergence and experience. De Jaegher and Di Paolo (2007) draw further on these five basic ideas of the enactive approach. They introduce the concept of participatory sense-making. In this presentation I will argue that group dance improvisation is a special form of participatory sense-making. The five interrelated ideas of enactive cognition will be used to show in detail how group dance improvisation is in essence a joint sense-making process. In group dance improvisation multiple embodied meanings (such as affects and aesthetic intentions) are created and shared on the spot, in the moment. This embodied joint sense-making process offers vital learning opportunities for both professional and amateur dancers.

Luc Nijs, Digital painting with music and movement: multimodal learning in instrumental music education

Starting from a specific view on the musician-instrument relationship (Nijs, Lesaffre & Leman, 2013), I will discuss the importance of the embodied music cognition paradigm for instrumental music teaching and learning, focusing on the different levels of embodiment (Metzinger, 2015). Using the Music Paint Machine, an interactive music educational technology that allows a musician to make a digital painting by moving in various ways while playing a musical instrument (Nijs & Leman, 2014) as example, I will elaborate on how the integrated use of different modalities (music, movement and image) can address these different levels of embodiment (morphology, body schema, body image) and as such contribute to establishing an optimal relationship between musician and instrument. In our view such an optimal relationship is a conditio sine qua non for the expressive interaction with music and for the involved musical signification process.

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: The Embodiment and Embeddedness of Improvisation

Ingar Brinck, Improvisation in arts practices: Bodily coordination, imitation and engagement

What enables improvisation and how can we account for its function within arts practices? In the arts, improvisation means that agents engage in reciprocal real-time interaction without a script or leader. It combines skill and spontaneity by re-mastering the techniques and technologies that the local environment affords. In contrast, everyday routine improvisation is ubiquitous, occurring e.g. in verbal conversation and daily rituals such as cooking or cleaning. It is set to maintain status quo and compensate for ambiguity or error, a device for repair rather than invention. I will develop a theory of improvisation as based in sensorimotor processing and emerging from interaction dynamics. Bodily coordination (entrainment) provides the necessary underpinning in synchronizing the agents’ behavior temporally, allowing for a shared rhythm and timing. Imitation consists in the complete or partial matching of behavior and permits modulation of the interaction, normally serving to re-align agents when interaction breaks down. I suggest that in arts practices improvisation aims at discovery and novelty, as exemplified by modern dance and jazz music, and that agents imitate strategically to explore variations of expected behavior. I discuss how imitation may support improvisation on different temporal scales and levels of resolution, and consider the effects of emotional and material (dis)engagement on the interaction. Finally, I submit that studies in the visual arts imply that individual improvisation too emerges from imitation, the artist coupling to the physical context, using artefacts and her own body as tools for exploring novel trajectories, imitating shapes and forms or simulating imagined space. The present theory combines insights from the cognitive sciences, neuroscience, phenomenology, and studies in the arts, grounding the theoretical claims in reviews of empirical studies.

Susanne Ravn and Simon Høffding, Body memories in artistic improvisation: a dialogical embodied exchange of movement

When engaging in observations of and interviews with expert artists, such as dancers and musicians, it becomes evident that their practices are, in different ways, focused on developing, adjusting and optimising certain techniques of the body. In the phenomenological analysis of body memory in dance and musicianship presented in this paper, we contend that it would be a mistake to think of these body techniques – or specialised habits – as a repertoire of more or less automatized movements. Rather, in each repetition, body memories including these habits are to be understood as unfolding in response to the present context and accordingly instantiate a fresh memory of these habits while moulding them at the same time. In that sense, any habit is also always improvised in some degree – adjusted and timed in accordance with the present situation. In recent sociological discussions, several researchers have drawn attention to the facts that when exploring, and possibly changing, habits, we at the same time rely on other habits and that habit does not only include sensory-motor use of our bodies, but also the way we handle our attention and focus our awareness. We argue that dance and musical improvisation can then only be understood when taking into consideration its complex relation to habits and body memory. In the analysis we specifically draw on resent philosophical discussions (e.g. Sutton, Colombetti, Montero; Fuchs) to describe how body memories are not to be reduced to certain internalised dispositions, activated when performing. Rather body memories unfold and find their form in the contextual field of a dialogical embodied exchange of movement.

Mikko Salmela, Joint improvisation as interaction ritual

Improvised joint action feels good, sometimes even great when the participants experience highly rewarding “group flows”. In this presentation, I analyze the emergence of the positive affective phenomenology of improvised joint action in several domains such as various forms of art improvisation, improvisational music therapies for children with autism or schizophrenia, and social and political movements with the sociological interaction ritual theory of Randall Collins (2004). The understanding of joint improvisation as interaction ritual allows us to see how the shared affective experience of the participants builds up from several ingredients that include structural, intentional, and embodied elements. These are the participants’ bodily co-presence and physical separation from others; their joint attention to the joint activity; an initial shared mood among the participants; and their mutual awareness of the shared focus of attention. The initial affects intensify during the joint activity into an intrinsically pleasant collective effervescence in the group’s interaction ritual through emotional contagion and rhythmic synchronization of the participants’ bodily and behavioral processes as well as through the participants’ awareness of their shared experience. Improvised joint action involves more variation than typical rituals, but both are patterned social interactions in which the alignment of participatory, either synchronic or complementary, individual actions within the joint activity yields affective rewards to the participants, as shown by several empirical studies. Another difference to rituals is that in some cases of joint improvisation, the initial shared mood may emerge only from the affective rewards of bodily and behavioral synchrony and coordination. Another source of shared affects in joint improvisation is the activity itself, such as a successful performance of a difficult part of it. In social activism, improvised joint actions are often motivated by the participants’ collective emotions that by constitution involve extensive bodily and behavioral synchrony.

Ashley Walton, Auriel Washbun, Anthony Chemero and Michael Richardson, Musical movement: spatiotemporal patterns of coordination and embodied listening

Musical collaboration emerges from the complex interaction of environmental and informational constraints, including those of the instruments and the performance context. Music improvisation in particular is more like everyday interaction in that dynamics emerge spontaneously without a rehearsed score or script. First, we examined how the structure of the musical context affords and shapes interactions between improvising musicians. Six pairs of professional piano players improvised with two different backing tracks while we recorded both the music produced and the movements of their heads, left arms and right arms. The backing tracks varied in rhythmic and harmonic information, from a chord progression, to a single tone. Differences in movement coordination and playing behavior were evaluated using nonlinear dynamical systems methods. Collectively, the findings indicated that each backing track afforded the emergence of different patterns of coordination with respect to how the musicians played together, how they moved together, as well as their experience collaborating with each other. Second, listeners were asked to rate the audio recordings of the improvised performances. Listener’s experiences of the recordings were related to the way the musicians coordinated their body movements, including head movements. These results demonstrate a link between the perception of musical sounds and the motional characteristics of their sources, specifically the movements and gestures involved in musical production. Given that bodily motion is powerfully bound to listeners’ engagement with music, we explore new forms of listening experiences afforded by virtual reality and motion tracking technology. In collaboration with the arts collective Intermedio, new immersive experiences are demonstrated where listener movements determine and interact with the spatial distribution of sounds in a music composition. How these additional dynamics expand the possibilities for engagement with musical aesthetics are considered in relation to the theoretical framework of ecological acoustics.

Panel: Classics, Archeology, Language

David Turnbull, To Talk of Many Things, Of Stories, Ships and String, of Connections, Collaborations, Knowledges and Kin

Until recently the narrative of how Homo sapiens and their ancestors left Africa, extending themselves in space and time has largely been a terrestrial one. There is now an increasing body of evidence for early seafaring by hominims that may exceed 140,000 years BP. Including a maritime dimension to the narrative of hominim movement raises fundamental issues in understanding the development of hominim socio-cognitive and technical capacities. Some archaeologists such as Leppard and Cherry taking a strong representationalist/cognitivist approach have argued that such early seafaring could not have occurred and could only have become possible from around 50,000BP, because a socially and technically complex activity like seafaring requires planning, abstraction, fully syntactical language, and a fully working memory. The paper argues that taking a performative approach based in embodied cognition and in technologies of connection string and storytelling, provides the conditions for the possibility of the coproduction of social collaboration and technical capacities of boat building and navigation.

Zina Giannopoulou, Suffering, Embodiment, and the Self in Sophocles’ Philoctetes

The Philoctetes (c. 409 BCE) is unique in the Greek tragic corpus for the extreme physicality of its central event: abandoned by the Greeks on the deserted island of Lemnos because of his foul stench and cries which interrupted the religious rituals, Philoctetes suffers attacks of excruciating pain from a stinking, ulcerous sore in his foot. Deprived of companions and resources, he uses his divine bow—Heracles’ gift and the sole means, together with its owner, of capturing Troy—to eke out a meager existence. His wounded foot causes sudden bouts of pain across the space of a hundred lines (730-826): he first tries to hide his pain but then gives voice to it repeatedly until he finally collapses into sleep. Although suffering is present almost by definition in tragedy (Poetics 1452b11-13), Philoctetes makes suffering its explicit subject: the main hero just is suffering or pain incarnate (Scarry 1985, Garner 1994).

In this paper, I look at the ways in which Sophocles constructs Philoctetes’ sense of self out of the material means available to him: his cries and bow. Drawing upon the distinction of the phenomenologist Herbert Plügge between Körper (the physical body observed from outside and subject to biomechanical laws) and Leib (the body as it is subjectively lived, the ground of perception, knowledge, intention, and self-extension beyond the body’s physical boundaries), I argue that Philoctetes’ shrieks of agony foreground his waning Körper, whereas the bow symbolizes his potent Leib, the means by which he transmutes his defeat by the Greeks—his being treated as a dispensable tool—into the double victory of his survival on Lemnos and the anticipated capture of Troy. In this way, Philoctetes overcomes his suffering, which bifurcates the human being into the bodily and the mental (Cassell 2004), and preserves his sense of himself as a hero.

David Wright, Sacred reptiles and native world view: enactive aesthetics and agency in Mesoamerican art

Representations of serpents are ubiquitous in the iconography of pre-Hispanic and early colonial Mesoamerica. Snakes, as well as reptilian attributes combined with other iconic elements, are ubiquitous in verbal and visual expressions of the experience of a sentient cosmos, including the surface of the Earth, the underworld, the heavens, rain, fire, and more. Reptilian attributes were assumed by rulers and priests as manifestations of their sacred status, legitimizing their social and political power. In this paper serpent symbolism is framed in embodiment theory, drawing on concepts developed by scholars over the last 25 years. The evolutionary aspects of the phenomenology of reptiles in the primate mind is relevant to this study, providing insights into the aesthetic impact of Mesoamerican sculpture and painting.

Anila Bhagavatula, Neuroscience of Rhetoric and Poetry

We discuss the contribution of neuroaesthetics and cognitive paradigms to rhetoric in art and humanities and also ask the question of how art and humanities can better help us understand specialization in brain function. These questions will be addressed within the theoretical framework of Cognitive Psychology, Cognitive Linguistics, and Cognitive Poetics. An analysis of literary style elements and perceptual symbols will conclude the discussion.

Panel: Autopoietic, Enactive, and Extended Musical Practices

Michael Golden, Music Emergent: Autopoiesis and Connected Worlds

A survey of ethnomusicological studies of traditional cultures from around the world shows that, although the specific functions attributed to music are diverse, a common thread is that they involve connecting us to our environments: social, physical, and/or metaphysical. If we consider this phenomenon in the context of the work of Maturana and Varela (autopoiesis, the Santiago theory of cognition) and their successors, human musicking can be understood as continuing the development of processes essential to all living things in their interactions with their environments, in other words, as an emergent property of life itself.

Beginning with the ideas of autopoiesis, cognition and structural coupling, the Santiago theory explains that, with a sufficiently complex nervous system, organisms such as ourselves “bring forth” an interior world, and integrate or connect it with the external world that we bring forth through our senses. The nervous system, linked to sense receptors, the motor system, and the brain (i.e., other neurons), functions to integrate the “brought forth” worlds of all the living cells in the bodies of second-order autopoietic unities. Musicking, because it engages sense (auditory perception), motor activity (sound production, entrainment) and our interior states (thought and emotion), appears to be an effective behavior in support of this integrative process; recent findings in neuroscience indicating the scope of connected brain activities in musically engaged subjects also support this idea. Furthermore, the often-noted effects of social cohesion and integration through musicking suggest the possibility, if we allow that social units might be understood as third-order autopoietic unities, that musicking has an important role at that level as well.

Thus, we may be able to explain the awareness expressed in traditional cultures that music is essentially connective, as mentioned above, on the basis of contemporary understanding of the biology of cognition.

Simon Høffding, “We-ing” in Joint Music Performance: Phenomenological lessons with “The Danish String Quartet”

This paper concerns the phenomenology of expert musicianship and targets the various modes of communication found here. The data for the research is derived from a developing methodology with the working title of “A Phenomenological Interview” (Høffding & Martiny 2015) which integrates qualitative interviews and phenomenological analyses.

Through phenomenological interviews with one of the world’s leading classical quartets, “The Danish String Quartet” (DSQ), three forms of communication are identified: 1) Motor resonance, 2) Explicit coordination, and 3) Interkinesthetic Affectivity. The first refers to the subconscious system of canonical neurons (Pacherie 2014) and the second to explicit and reflective processes of planning and prediction as described by music psychologist Peter Keller (Keller 2008). The third, however, has not been thoroughly described in prior literature and concerns when musicians experience a strong, unified “we-intentionality” characterized by a high degree of trust and labelled as a “hive-mind” or as subject to unusual “zone-forces” (DSQ). This third form of communication has strong pre-reflective, affective and bodily components, and in the mind of the DSQ musicians instantiates the most beautiful and pleasant kind of performance.
The paper concludes by suggesting that interkinesthetic affectivity is an emergent form of consciousness that is best understood in enactive and interactionist terms.

Joel Krueger, Dimensions of the musically extended mind

Increasingly influential views in 4E cognitive science portray minds as embodied, embedded, enacted, and even extended beyond the head. Proponents argue that we routinely “offload” cognitive functions onto artifacts and symbols of our material environments — we use pen and paper to augment mathematical reasoning, smartphones as memory aids — flexibly transforming our cognitive profile in real-time in order to realize new modes of thought and experience. In light of the interrelation between mind and material culture, 4E proponents insist that understanding how minds work entails looking beyond the head.

In this talk, I apply principles of 4E cognition to music cognition and defend a picture of the musically extended mind. I argue that music affords different forms of cognitive and emotional offloading: it can function as a persistent environmental resource supporting the development of experiences and cognitive practices that might otherwise remain inaccessible. In developing this claim, I focus especially on the materiality of music. This is meant to emphasize two things: first, from birth music shows up for us, experientially, as something we use, something we do things with; second, this is because music is always mediated by artefacts and environments — musical worlds — that afford different uses. I support this picture of the musically extended mind by drawing upon multiple streams of empirical work from neuroscience, developmental psychology, and music therapy. I also consider several examples of musical worlds, including mu

Maria Witek, ‘Feeling at one’: Distribution of minds, bodies and beats in dance music

Vibe is a well-known phenomenon in research on dance music, clubbing and rave culture. It is an affective atmosphere that is collectively shaped by the rhythmic interlocking of its different elements, such as the DJ, the music, the dancers, the space, the lights and the temperature. Ethnographic and phenomenological accounts of dance music consciousness are filled with subjective reports of feelings of oneness, unity, ego dissolution, ecstasy and oceanic experience. However, until now, such dissolving of subjectivity during clubbing and raving has been treated largely as metaphor. This paper advances the notion of affective distribution by suggesting how the cognitive processes of clubbing and raving literally extend across the beat and the body. I consider vibe from the phenomenological perspective of socio-affective Extended Mind and focus on its musical correlates. I illustrate how the temporal structure of syncopation opens up spaces or gaps in the rhythmic surface that invite the body to ‘fill in’ through synchronised body-movement, thus providing the body with opportunities to physically occupy the musical beat. The paper thus asserts that the breakdown of boundaries between body, brain, music and environment is not just metaphorical but also material and physiological, and in doing so argues for a non-anthropocentric view of music and affect.

Panel: Towards the Interbody: Embodiment and Interface

Patricia Pisters, Perfecting the Self in Digital Media Culture: Neurofeedback and Embodied Self-Knowledge

Neurofeedback is used in closed-loop settings, where subjects learn to control the activation of specific brain regions when presented with a measure of that regions activation (Cavazza et. al. 2015) Neurofeedback is used increasingly in the development of Brain-Computer-Interfaces and sometimes make use of virtual agents to provide realistic visual feedback in order to enhance mental behavioral and emotional control. This paper will investigate how the experimental settings of neurofeedback systems, where a mind reflects back on itself in order to learn, correct, perfect or control, can be extrapolated to a larger and complex media context. Several fields governed by similar looping patterns. A first cultural feedback loop system that can be recognized as such is related to CCTV systems and other surveillance mechanisms (including drones, facial recognition software and other ‘nonconscious cognitive agents’); these systems and devices actually have turned the world into a closed feedback loop circuit, which includes the embodied brain of the human subject. Besides this collective political level, there is another level of looping that operates on our individual consciousness: the camera switch mode of our cell phones have encouraged the cult of the selfie, making us all reflect back on ourselves in a narcissistic tradition of self-reflection and perfect self-presentation. Thirdly, filmmakers have turned their camera’s increasingly inward, filming by and large from ‘inside out’, showing us the world of their protagonists in all their fantasmatic and regularly even psychopathological dimensions. It is this third level of brain reflexivity in contemporary digital cinema that I will focus on in this presentation. In this context I will refer to two particular cinematographic cases of ‘neurofeedback looping’ and ‘avatars’ (Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, 2010; and Simon Pummel’s Brand New U, 2015) that are telling of the kind of problems of embodied (self)knowledge we are facing today.

Vicente Raja and Paco Calvo, Augmented Reality: An Ecological Blend

Augmented Reality (AR) makes reference to the real-time perception of an environmental setting that has been enhanced by means of computer-generated virtual components. The design of current AR devices is based on the real-time superimposition and alignment of a symbolic virtual layer with the real environment. This way of augmenting reality rests upon the representational-cum-computational principles of cognitivism: cognition and perception are to be accounted for in information-processing terms.
Unfortunately, designing AR devices along representational/computational lines results, we contend, in cognitive overload. AR users are faced with the problem of having to connect two pools of data as they deal with disparate sources of information, the symbolic and the environmental—in some devices, problems of attention and headaches have already been reported. It seems that current AR devices serve to augment, not reality, but rather cognitive demands. This is more pressing once we consider that some users’ cognitive skills may not be fully developed or are somewhat diminished (e.g, infants and Alzheimer’s patients).

Our thesis is that we may be able to bypass these problems by endorsing, when designing AR devices, the principles of ecological psychology, and not those of cognitivism. The main tenet of ecological psychology is that information does not need to be processed cognitively, since it is rich enough and already specifies opportunities for behavioral interaction in the form of perceived affordances. Information only needs to be detected. In this way, ecological augmented reality (E-AR) devices could contribute to enriching environmental information by providing novel specifications and by generating new affordances or by highlighting those already present. Crucially, the type of information to be exploited by E-AR is in the blend of the virtual layer with the environment itself. This is how augmented reality becomes E-AR. We review some sensory substitution devices for the sake of illustration.

Adnan Marquez Borbon, Perceptual learning and the emergence of performer-instrument interactions with digital music systems

The relationship between human and computers within the area of HCI has shifted from being represented by cognitive, information-processing approaches to more recent situated and embodied perspectives. This matter has analogously developed within interactive digital musical system research.

However, the nature of this interaction, while commonly drawing upon J.J. Gibson’s theory of affordance for analysis, often fails to characterize the emergent relationship between performer and musical system. This has led to regard affordances as mere design features, as well as taking for granted the skillful contributions of the performer. Interactions in this manner are represented as static.

In this paper, I present the findings of a long-term phenomenological research study describing the evolving nature of performer-instrument interactions. I resort to E.J. Gibson’s perceptual learning approach to frame the experiences of performers, both individually and socially, as they learned to play a new digital musical instrument, the Pulley Synth. I argue that the nature of such interactions is grounded on learning and that the changing perception of the system contributes to the process of enskilment. In this view, more than being an acquisition of conceptual knowledge of the instrument’s operation, learning suggests a holistic behavioral change towards the system in which musical and sonic possibilities of the entire performer-instrument-environment ecology are explored and enacted.

I conclude that perceptual learning is significant within the context of HCI and musical technology, given that current design and performance practices with interactive digital music systems remain influenced by established musical practices (for example, Classical music). If one of the aims of this domain is the development of new musical interactions and practices, the ability to overcome the influence of musical traditions and to perceive new sonic possibilities must be considered in both the design and instrumental learning processes.

Shannon Cuykendall and Thecla Schiphorst, Untying the Knot of Dance Movement Expertise: An Enactive Approach

Many cognitive scientists are turning to dance experts to explore the relationship between bodily knowledge and perception. Dancers have a unique skill set that integrates physical and expressive abilities, making them intriguing participants in studies that examine how the action observation network, action prediction, learning, memory, and aesthetic preferences are related to one’s physical experiences. While findings from these studies suggest that dance experts perceive movement differently than novices; the definitions of what constitutes a “dance expert” are far ranging, making it challenging to compare results across studies.

We discuss the variety of dance experts that are recruited for scientific studies in movement perception and draw upon research in dance education to form a richer definition of dance expertise. One possible way to parameterize expertise in dance is by role (e.g. performer, teacher) and style (e.g. ballet, hip-hop). However, the challenge in differentiating expertise by style or role is that many many dancers have trained in multiple styles of dance and commonly have overlapping roles–thus creating a knot of expertise.

To untie this knot, we propose an enactive approach. Rather than label dancers as experts or novices based on an arbitrary requirement of the number of years a dancer has trained in a particular style or role, we suggest that broader categories of expertise will emerge from the data that go beyond both style and role. We predict four main types of expertise: Virtuosic, Expressive, Kinematic and Expressive expertise. Through combining methodologies such as psychometric measurement, eye tracking, brain imaging, phenomenological and analytical accounts of movement we can develop a more complete understanding of how expertise relates to the ways in which dance experts observe, learn, and articulate movement. This research can both inform the study of movement perception and help define gaps in dance education.

Panel: Embodiment and Aesthetics

Michael Fuller: Neuronal Post-Structuralism: A Humanist’s Perspective on the Mathematics of the Construction of Memory

In recent years, coordination between research in the mathematics of biologically plausible neural networks and studies in the dynamics of cortical activation has produced very successful models in which each cortical layer develops a predictive model of the dimensionality of the “world” of data received from below. These self-organizing maps work by a mathematical logic of mutual differentiation, in which the ever more complex “objects” represented in successively higher-order maps are not atomic but follow the structuralist rule of “meaning by difference.” This paper argues that when one takes into account the sorts of emotional systems that Jaak Panksepp delineated and others have explored in the field of affective neuroscience (the amygdala, the dopamine system for novelty detection, oxytocin hormonal production, etc.) and their role in biasing the construction of memory—from the basic development of intermediate self-organizing maps to the construction of semantic memory out of the details of episodic memory—it becomes clear that memory, the mapping of experience, and the construction of the self are not structuralist but post-structuralist. The specific ways the world impinges significantly on the body and the ways in which these events are mapped in the cortical structures of the brain—in joy as well as in sorrow, fear, pain, thirst, and hunger—define a semantic realm that is not neutral but is shaped from the beginning by a logic of bodily need, pleasure, power, and control.

Peter Cariani, Time is of the essence

Temporal order and pattern is a common aspect of events in the world and their representations in brains, yet time is still our “lost dimension.”

We are developing a general theory of brain function based on direct temporal coding of perceptual qualities, event timings, anticipatory predictions, and coordinated actions. The theory is based on neural timing net architectures that operate on complex temporal patterns of spikes (i.e., an alternative to both classical symbol systems and connectionism). Multidimensional time codes afford high-dimension vectorial representations, neural signal multiplexing, broadcast strategies of goal-directed coordination and informational integration, and nonlocal, content-addressable memory. Short-term temporal memory traces consisting of complex temporal spike patterns circulate in and are actively regenerated by neuronal circuits (loops, re-entrant paths,). Neuronal signals related to current motivational and affective states permeate these regenerated patterns and temporal memory traces. Neural information processing is realized though competitive and cooperative vector dynamics of interacting complex temporal patterns of spikes, with goal-signals steering behavior.

Those signals actively amplified and regenerated within global neuronal workspaces form the contents of current conscious awareness (neurophenomenal isomorphisms, bridge laws). In cybernetic terms, the self can be seen as a locus of control for a purposive, adaptive goal-directed percept-action system (realm of internal circular causation).

If the brain is a temporal anticipatory system, then time becomes a common unifying dimension of both perception and action, such that each directly informs the other. Music impresses its time structure widely on temporal firing patterns of many diverse neuronal populations. Temporal microstructures yield musical pitches, timbres; event timing macrostructures yield rhythms, meters. Temporal pattern expectancies are created by pattern repetitions (reinforcements) and divergences (violations). Coordinated movement requires coherent timing of muscle activations, with resulting temporal patterns of action fed back to the brain via stretch receptors (muscle motion) and sensed subsequent environmental changes.

“Luis H. Favela, An Introduction to Radical Embodied Cognitive Neuroscience

Embodied cognition is no longer a fringe movement in the mind sciences. With few exceptions among the less radically inclined, embodied cognition is generally relegated to investigating and explaining lower order cognitive processes involving perception-action and not higher order cognitive processes such as abstract thinking and imagination. Those who accept that lower order cognition could be cases of embodied cognition, but who resist the idea that higher order cognition is also embodied, often demonstrate two commitments: First, cognition functions via representations and manipulations on those representations; and second, explanatory “smallism.” In the cognitive, neural, and psychological sciences, explanatory smallism is the idea that cognitive phenomena are not explained until the account stops at small things like neurons or molecules.

What follows is an introduction to a non-representational, non-computational, and non-smallist framework for investigating and understanding both lower order and higher order cognition: radical embodied cognitive neuroscience. Radical embodied cognitive neuroscience treats cognition as systems phenomena that spread across brain, body, and environment. Unlike its predecessor, radical embodied cognitive science, radical embodied cognitive neuroscience explicitly places the brain and central nervous system within its explanatory purview. By utilizing a kind of computational modeling (i.e., nested dynamical modeling) and conducting research guided by the search for and application of principles of activity (e.g., self-organized criticality), radical embodied cognitive neuroscience provides a scale-free framework for investigating both lower order and higher order cognition. Such a framework can facilitate accounts of phenomena as apparently disparate as single neurons and neural networks, to coordination activities among dyads and larger groups of agents.

Geoffrey Bowker, Where is the body in all this?

Many of us are entering into modalities of increased instrumentation and data analytics – either from outside our bodies (through the emergent Internet of Things) or through our bodies themselves (the quantified self). I explore the emergent ontology of the body in this new era. After an historical survey of the body and technology from eighteenth century govermentality through Samuel Butler’s Erwhon to the present, I argue that this new era is one in which we are distributing bodily qualities and cognition between these instruments and our bodies, in such a way as to dissolve distinctions between the two.