The Situated Body – invitation, play and attention
We rose early in the morning to avoid the heat of the midday sun and travelled back to Bundanon to continue the Situated Body workshop. Equipped with cameras, water bottles, sunscreen and hats I invited Maggie and Biz to join me into the unknown and explore the location I was previously drawn too on the Cedar trail. Having surveyed the location we decided to continue walking further along the path to see what lay beyond. As we continued to walk we could feel the heat and humidity begin to rise uncomfortably against our bodies. Not far up the track we were joined by large noisy horse flies. As we travelled further we came across a part of the trail shrouded by Lantana bushes (considered a noxious weed in Australia).
Our motivation levels to continue on the trail began to reach limits. The heat, humidity, flies, insects and noxious weeds compounded our sense of alienation in the landscape. At this point my body felt compressed and small in these unwelcoming surroundings and we all felt the urge to quickly leave. I had a sensation of invading a territory that was intimidating and trying to keep us out. This was similar to my first experience when the Kangaroos encroached on my location in the previous session. Essentially I was in a space where my body’s senses were telling me I didn’t belong.
As we hastily retreated (once again) a small curled leaf suspended from a tree caught my eye. The leaf appeared to delicately float in mid air just to the side of the path. The leaf was in fact a spider’s nest suspended in air by a single thread of cobweb. In what was a spontaneous and improvised act of movement I decided to attempt to balance the leaf on the tip of my nose, using my entire body to crouch below. This simple playful act focused my entire attention. My body was activated in space and I was suddenly captivated by the action. I sensed my attention was focused on my body as I tried to balance the leaf. Rather than my body being pushed away from the landscape I felt completely engaged in the moment. My body felt presence had increased.
I invited Maggie and Biz to play with the leaf. Soon the oppressive heat and buzzing insects receded into the background as we took turns crouching and balancing. Our focus, attention and play had activated our presence in the landscape. Our bodies had proclaimed being in a space, albeit fleeting and temporal. This magical moment amplified when the spider crawled out of its nest to see what we were doing. These simple bodily interactions encouraged us to play more when I encouraged Maggie (who was initially cautious to partake) to find another location to interact with. More playful actions ensued between us, and within the landscape.
This brief experience on the Cedar trail made me think about the qualities of the felt sensations, and acts performed, when engaging with our demonstration projects earlier in the week. An invitation to engage, attention, focus and play came to the fore in both of these experiences and throughout the workshop.