Post-Bundanon Reflections: Some threads

Here are some threads that I’ve pulled out from my Bundanon experience, that Ive been turning around in my head over the past week since the workshop.

George and Lizzie enjoying the view from the workshop space at the Bundanon Trust Boyd Education Centre, Riversdale.

George and Lizzie enjoying the view from the workshop space at the Bundanon Trust Boyd Education Centre, Riversdale.

ATTENTIONAL INFRASTRUCTURES for an aesthetics of touch, movement and proprioception: having and/or developing the ability to attend to sensations and feelings arising from within their body – ‘knowing how to appreciate’ the significance of what is felt (like appreciating unfamiliar foods and flavors? or music? – needs to develop from social practice?).

This is something Catherine emphasized at the beginning and end of the Bundanon workshop, and through her ‘Distinct Body’ workshops – without this ability to listen and unfold insight from the sensation of our breath, skeleton, muscles and skin, how much can we more can hope to achieve?

We need an experiential vocabulary for thinking through the body, a vocabulary of tactile, proprioceptive and kineasthetic experiences and reflections, that can enable us to move from sylables, to words, from words to sentences, and from sentences to stories. This, like any other language, is something developed over time, with other people.

EXPERIENTIAL NARRATIVES – Dramaturgical Aesthetics of Interaction, Aesthetics of Participation. A focus beyond the technical aspects of the artwork, towards structure of the situation as a whole (location, entry-points, social context and conditions, etc.), and the development of the participant’s experience within it (how it starts, develops and comes to an end).

RELATIONAL SYSTEMS AND STRUCTURES: Human-Human Interactions that explore proximal modalities as their primary modality (touch, smell, taste, temperature, movement, proprioception). ‘Live Art’ intimate performance forms: one-to-one engagements between a host and their guest. Taking full advantage of the incredible emotional intelligence and multi-modal sensitivity that we humans posses (in contrast to our machines). To what extent is my own fixation on exhibiting computer-based interactions a product of a tradition fixated on the so-called autonomy of the art object? Autonomy from what …other humans?
[Note to self:why do I feel obliged to exhibit my work as a stand alone experience - without someone there to guide people into the work, to listen  to their stories, to bear witness (and to value) their experience in the work?]

Maggie invited us to explore various forms of hand-to-hand contact incorporating skeletal sensation and contact

Maggie invited us to explore various forms of hand-to-hand contact incorporating skeletal sensation and contact

THE ART EXPERIENCE AS INVITATION, art making and curating as a form of hosting, induction, hospitality (hospice?). In connection with Making Strange – offering participants some support along their journey – a base from which explore, or temporary shelter and resting point along the way. [this brings to mind pilgrim cultures: wayside shrines, wells, cairns, storm-shelters etc. I wonder what their contemporary equivalents might be?]

SOMAESTHETIC GYMNASIUM: a place for cultivating somaesthetic abilities/sensitivities – consisting of semi-structured body-focused experiences, that stimulate the visitors capacity for somaesthetic pleasure, beauty and critical reflection.

‘INTELLIGENT’ BODY-FOCUSED INTERACTIVE ARTWORKS – Body-focused interactions that acknowledge, and are sensitive to the emotional dimensions of our physicality: the capacity for movement and touch to facilitate strong emotional recall, release, insight, inspiration etc. Maggie mentioned the idea of interactive art makers process as being one of ‘growing the computer’s neurology’, I think this is a powerful concept – to understand and expand on the computerised interactive systems ability to be in the world – to hold a representation of its environment, and its behavioyr within this environment – regardless of how simple this may be. [The memory of of our brain-mapping workshop comes to mind, with Lizzie's reflection that the maps she drew of her brain, could equally be a map of the world…].

SENSUAL TACTILE AND KINAESTHETIC PLEASURE AND BEAUTY IN HUMAN COMPUTER INTERACTION
“any use of a new tools and technologies involves new uses (and postures and habits) of the body, which means new possibilities of somatic strains, discomforts, and disabilities resulting from inefficient body use that cultivation of somatic self-consciousness could help  us to reveal, remedy or avoid.” – Shusterman, 2008, p. 13

Lizzie’s note: “What about the somatic pleasures and enjoyment that these technologies might also support?”

George testing a Wii controlled sound design - tracking slow movements

George testing a Wii controlled sound design - tracking slow movements

Artworks that depend on specific qualities of human action – tuned in such a way as to draw you into moving, standing, behaviong in unfamiliar and/ort enjoyable ways (in contrast to interfaces that draw you into familiar but painful and frumpy ways of being – i.e. laptops and bad mice).
[Can I imagine an inteactive art experience that was FUNDAMENTALLY, a pleasure and a joy to experience?]

After accepting/imagining this possibility, we  can go on to consider what kind of pleasure that such works might offer (obviously, there are many kinds of pleasure), and the philosophical and ethical ends (no matter how fragile or fleeting the gesture) to which these pleasures might be directed.

Tracing my outline in Catherine Truman's 'The Distinct Body' workshop. Photo by Catherine Truman.

Tracing my outline in Catherine Truman

The map I drew of my outline and skeleton in Catherine's workshop.

The map I drew of my outline and skeleton in Catherine's workshop

SUSPENDING OUTCOMES-ORIENTED RESEARCH PROCESSES, IN FAVOR OF GENUINE, OPEN MINDED ENQUIRY. Drawings made by feeling, paths made by walking. I’m still a little shocked to see how fixated I was on making a ‘correct’ drawing, going to extraordinary lengths to physically trace the outline of my own body, when Catherine’s instructions, were quite clearly to ‘draw an outline of our body, based on our felt experience’ …some more homework to do in this area!

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