Thinking Through The Body is an interdisciplinary research project exploring the use and potential of movement, touch and proprioception in body-focussed interactive art and design.
For 14 days between July 2008 and July 2009, eight practitioners working across the disciplines of art, design and somatic bodywork came together over the course of three intense workshop-events to discuss and explore new approaches to ‘the body’ in contemporary art practice – with a special focus on the phenomenology of body-focused interactive experiences in art and somatic bodywork.
Developed in response to a call from the Australia Council for the Arts, Inter-Arts Office, for open-ended ‘blue sky’, interdisciplinary research and development projects (Art Lab initiative), our aim has been to create a laboratory for the creation of hybrid practice-based research work combining approaches from interactive art, somatic bodywork and experiential aesthetics.
The Thinking Through The Body – ArtLab 2008-2009 research group was Jonathan Duckworth, George Khut (Producer/Director), Garth Paine, Somaya Langley, Lian Loke, Lizzie Muller (Cutator/Facilitator), Maggie Slattery, and Catherine Truman.
At the final ArtLab-funded workshop at Performance Space (Sydney, July 2009) we presented a collection of interactive art experiences (The Sensorium Gymnasium) – devised as ‘offerings’ to an invited audience. These prototype artworks and the collaborative processes we have used to devise them, provide the foundation for our continuing explorations.
A notable feature of many of the works we presented at this event was the use of prerecorded inductions recorded by Feldenkrais Trainer Maggie Slattery amd Catherine Truman. These spoken word recordings, usually between 2 – 5 minutes in duration where designed to sensitise and focus the participant’s body awareness to the specific forms of body experience that each of the works involved: lying downm standing, leaning forward, feeling gravity through the skeleton etc. The video’s below document some of the experiences we presented at the Sensorium Gymnasium event at Performance Space – and include edited excerpts of the guided awareness recordings that participants listened to prior to ‘entering into’ the (non-narrated part of) the work. As we had hoped – these recordings, and the presence of the researchers as observant facilitators – supported a very careful, attentive and refined quality of attention, enabling participants to savour something of the quiet miracle that our experience of embodiment can be.