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: Cross Cultural Art and Embodiment

Yu Zhi, Hand Scroll and the Seeing: An Embodied analysis of Chinese traditional Painting – telepresentation

Hand Scroll (手卷、长卷、卷轴、横卷、横轴) is a genre and the classical mood of existence of Chinese traditional painting. It can be only appreciated while a person deploys it to several viewers, rather than to be suspended or hanged in a public space such as a museum or gallery. In comparison with Western oil painting, Hand scroll has many embodied characteristics:“Embodied presence”, “Roll of hand and extension of body”, “mobile viewing and point of view” and “private space and communication of body”. We can find these embodied elements in some celebrated hand scrolls, for instance Thousands Miles of Rivers and Mounts (《千里江山图》) by Wang Ximeng (王希孟), Along the River During the Qingming Festival (《清明上河图》) by Zhang Zeduan (张择端) and Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains (《富春山居图》) by Huang Gongwang (黄公望).

“Duan Siying, From “Harmony” to “Tension”: the reconstruction of “body” in Chinese New Ink Art

With the heated debates on whether Chinese painting should keep it’s brush and ink tradition at the end of 20 centuries, a series of New Ink Art works declared their existence in a series of exhibition named “An Experiment in Tension: An Exhibition of Expressive Ink Painting” (1994) and “Tension and Expression: An Exhibition of Ink-Wash Painting” (1995). In contrast to the pursuit of a harmonic world in traditional Chinese painting which involve the freely “walking, seeing, playing, and living” (Guo Xi) of both artist and viewer, the New Ink Art works push this four-dimensional world to an extreme moment of power, speed and tension by borrowing the western painting techniques of pouring, breaking, collage or modern technology of light and electricity.

Instead of keep focusing on the political background and identity arguments of the issue of Chinese New Ink Art, this paper tries to investigate the profound shift in mode of time-space perception as well as the idea of “body-cosmos” relationship during the radical modernisation period in China which fully embodied in the transformation of Chinese Ink Art.

After carefully revisit some conventional painting principle under the Confucian and the Taoist contexts compared with Merleau-Ponty’s aesthetics, several New Ink Art works including Xu bing, Qiu anxiong, Yang yongliang would be examined as a reflection of the lost of “Yi Jing/poetic world” and an expression of anxious bodily experience in a globalised urban world.

“Yuedi Liu, Somaesthetics, body and Chinese Art Tradition – telepresentation

As we all know, The body action plays an important role in Chinese traditional art, especially in Chinese Ink Art. In the perspective of Chinese Aesthetics, painting is not just a kind of production from artist’s creation. and Chinese regarded it as a art of living. Today, there a main stream in Chinese aesthetics: Aesthetics of Everyday Life, and the new aesthetics present another mode of Embodiment. In west, “somaesthetics” as a new branch of aesthetics is focus on the relationship between body and aesthetics. Actually, in China, somaesthetics is belong to a Chinese Aesthetics of Everyday Life, and it interpret how body acts in Chines art. The importance of the creative process was highlighted as early as Chinese classical culture. In calligraphy and painting, in the process from “bamboo in the hand” to “bamboo under a brushstroke”, the artist must be left in an unrestrained state of great ease. When writing a small character, the artist moves his wrist, while to write a big character, he moves the elbow, “lifting his elbow, with qi of the whole body going from shoulder through arm and wrist to the fingers. When qi finally reaches the tip of the brush, the power of the whole body penetrates through the surface of the paper to the back.” Meanwhile, the “bamboo in the mind” has been reproduced in the “bamboo in the hand”, with the strokes of the brush swaying to the free flow of the mind. This is not only an externalization, but also a psychosomatic merge. Furthermore, calligraphy is a pan-art process, which not only focuses on the finished works, but also the process of writing. Of course, the highest value of miao shu (wonderful writing) lies in the rhythm of life being presented.

Chae Yoo and Michael Fuller responding.