Interactive dance installations and interactive sound systems controlled by body motions (Oral presentation)
I will give a short overview of my current research dealing with interactive systems that provides sonic and/or visual feedbacks to movements.
This work spans from fundamental research on sensori-motor learning to collaborations with dancers and choreographers on artistic installations.
The Ilan Lev method (hands-on demonstration)
The main idea on which the method is based, is that the central nervous system, as well as serving as a monitoring system, also delivers new input from the body to the mind, directly to the sub-conscious in the sensory part of the brain. The logical brain is an obstacle when it comes to unknown information. The sensory part of the brain goes around this obstacle, as in hypnosis. This direct reception evokes an unusual, deep and intensive learning process.
Luciana Chieregati & coletivo qualquer (Performance)
We propose doing a part of the structure of the performance we are currently working on “about the things that cannot be said”, where maybe we could glimmer an open field between what we are-do and what we say that we are-do or between what we see and what we say that we see. By the organization of our actions into pattern synthesis, we will turn our attention to the ways in which the act of observation can amplify the space.
Spiral Pendulum (Performance)
The dance addresses themes of intimacy, performance and presence. Through a repetitive and self-sustaining movement, the performer verbally reports from a state of body-level consciousness. What influences the performer’s experience is the immediacy of the space wherein the performance takes place and all matter contained within it – the here and now of the space.
The performances began in November 2008, each performance documented with video and has an average of 45 minutes duration. The performance has an immediate and lasting effect on the viewer, visceral and intellectual. In viewing the videos in the space, one is invited to witness the delicate fluctuations in each performance in each space.
Suzanne Cotto (Oral presentation)
Suzanne Cotto will be presenting a dance conference about her own experiences, thoughts and questions such as:
How does focus on the functional body networks go to poetical images ?
How, when touching people as a therapist, do comments with images about the cranial movements I can feel, connect with some truth about their life story (or real life experience)?
When and how does the trigger from moving to dancing appear?
Why and how are hands mediators between the brain and the center of gravity – between thought and physicality ?
Florence Daupias d’Alcochete
Why phenomenology ? Merleau-Ponty and the limits of objective thought (Oral presentation)
To study the nature of consciousness and of our subjective experience, what method and perspective is the most appropriate? First of all, the “first person” perspective would seem more suitable, if there was not the suspicion of a lack of objectivity and scientificity. Indeed, the “third person” vantage point has been considered for many years as the only reliable and scientific tool. But is it that obvious? However this objective thought contains many difficulties and insufficiencies: that is the point that we will develop.
In his Phenomenology of Perception, Merleau-Ponty shows the limits of “objective thought”. There is a form of “hypocrisy” in the fact that it implies a subjective experience, borrowing its pattern from the structure of one’s own experience, without seeing its presupposition. There are also some domains that objective thought will never be able to understand for what they really are and for what they mean for us, for instance dream or existence. Moreover, the objective perspective does not only reject many phenomenon that it can’t explain: it can also lead to mistakes and false projections, for instance in the conception of movement or in the interpretation of a pathological case.
So the purpose of our discussion will be to understand how, to study movement or body awareness, a phenomenological tool can be more truthful and less biased than the pure external perspective.
Yoga practice and body-related sensory conflict monitoring (Poster)
Researchers have now convincingly demonstrated that regular meditation practice—in addition to benefits for mental health— alters cognition, emotions, brain functioning and morphology. Another form of mental training is yoga, which has also been considered as “meditation in movement”. Even though yoga is more extensively practiced and distributed around the world compared to meditation, virtually nothing is known about how yoga—and, thus, bodily exercises—may shape the mind.
Ashtanga Yoga represents a particularly body-related type of yoga. It is characterized by the synchronization of a fixed series of postures, with a specific breathing pattern and particular points of gaze (e.g., the nose). As postures are always done in the same order, Ashtanga Yoga is taught in a supervised self-practice, in which the student goes at his own pace, without verbal instructions by the teacher and without visual feedback by mirrors.
Here we tested the hypothesis that a body-related physical practice may alter the representation and the awareness of one’s own body by exploring the impact of Ashtanga Yoga on a number of body-related perceptual tasks. To this end, we tested Ashtanga Yoga practitioners compared to and non-yoga participants using behavioral tasks such as the Rod and Frame Test and the Rubber Hand Illusion. The results of this research will be presented and discussed during the meeting.
Antonio Jesús de la Fe Guedes
I will be performing the short version of my solo “Va por Vds.” as well as doing a short presentation of OPENLAB, the ongoing performance research group which I lead since February this year.
The solo “Va por Vds.” was the practical section of my MA final independent project. The subject of my MA was on deep engagement with the application of mental imagery specific processes during the choreography and, moreover, during the performance of “Va por Vds.”
Although I focused on mental imagery during the development of the piece and during the dissertation that follow it, I soon realised that mental imagery alone did not suffice to explain the whole processes that I was experiencing and deploying during the performance of the solo. Mental imagery did play a very important role during the whole process and was the main subject of my mental discourse during it. We could say that the score of the piece was built in relation to a succession of different mental images.
However, after my MA I continued exploring the idea of engaging with mental processes with the main aim of achieving high states of stage or performance presence. OPENLAB emerged out of this route of exploration. I initiated the laboratory and I have lead the sessions every time we meet but now I am rather the facilitator more than the owner of the project. All the participants are invited to bring their own experiences and share their insights with the rest of the group. I keep leading the exploration and therefore it could be pointed out that OPENLAB is not a democratic collective. Nonetheless, OPENLAB’s development has depended on a communal endeavour. I would like during the session to present and talk about OPENLAB: how it started, what have been done and what is its relevance in the present times.
The irrational body: Philippe Ramette’s installations and cognitive neuroscience (Oral presentation)
It has long been known that our perception of verticality is highly constrained by gravity. Recent studies have also highlighted the role of an internal model of gravity, resulting from the multisensory integration of somatosensory, vestibular and visual signals, for our sense of self-location, a key component of bodily self-consciousness. Further, gravity, visual perspective and body orientation in space have been shown to influence the perception of static and moving objects, including human bodies. Here we draw parallels between this body of knowledge and the work of French plastician Philippe Ramette. His series “Expérimentations irrationnelles” vividly and playfully illustrate visuo-vestibular conflicts by using elaborate and ambiguous displays of his own body in impossible situations, a technique he calls “visual quiproquo”. We propose that his work uncovers the links between basic perceptual processes underlying bodily self-consciousness and affective experiences of the uncanny involving on the one hand humor and irony, and on the other hand anxiety and fear. We develop this idea by presenting selected works of Ramette, linking them to recent work in cognitive neuroscience and discussions conducted with the artist.
If we were together in print (Performance)
‘If we were together in print’ refers to the situation of being together through reading a score or a book. We will probe the experience of reading movement, and the movement of reading with the book-performance ‘Sync’ in our hands.
When a score refers to itself rather than to something external, what change can occur in norms of relation within choreography? How does reading affect our sensorial perception? How does it affect our relation with our neighbor?
I will share observations from the case study of ‘Sync’ in relation to research on New Media Poetics by Adalaide Morris (2006), Rancière’s theory of emancipated spectator (2004/2007), and Janez Jansa’s ‘terminal spectator’ (2011). When the body of the book encounters the one of each reader, it provokes movements of thoughts, of perception, actions. One becomes conscious of one’s own breath, one’s position in the room, relations with others; one begins to add, construct and contribute with our imagination and action. Reading turns into writing, re-inventing.
‘If we were together in print’ proposes a definition of Choreography moving from its Dorsal Fin (Writing), considering all implicated bodies, and constituting swarms of intelligences: choreography as space/time/opportunity to think together.
More about ‘Sync’: http://www.post-cie.com/en/sync.php
The sense of action completion and agency in obsessive-compulsive disorder (Poster)
Patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) lack the experience of action completion and agency. This diminished or uncertain sense of self-efficacy and control over actions and their sensory consequences is a central clinical feature in OCD and well documented in ‘not just right’ experiences or an inner sense of imperfection and incompleteness. The sense of being in control of one’s body may involve feelings like owning one’s movements or feeling completely at home in the world. Research has shown that feelings of agency strongly depend on internal predictions of action outcomes generated by forward models of the motor system. Such motor predictions are also critical for inhibitory gating of actions and their sensory consequences.
The present study explicitly investigated forward modeling in OCD by testing central modulation of sensory processes on the basis of foreknowledge associated with an action. Electrophysiological data (EEG) was collected in 18 OCD patients and 18 healthy control subjects. Participants completed tow tasks in which they self-induced a visual stimulation or observed an externally imposed visual stimulation. In addition, the visual stimulus was either predictable or unpredictable. In healthy controls, we observed a typical reduction in early cortical responses for self-generated visual feedback as compared to externally imposed feedback. This sensory attenuation was not found in OCD patients. Moreover, additional predictive motor cues contributed to the attenuation effect in controls but not in patients. If explicitly asked to report agency judgments, larger estimates were observed for patients, which correlated with the strength of incompleteness feelings. These findings show that OCD patients fail to predict and suppress the sensory consequences of their own actions. The constant mismatch between expected and actual outcome caused by this forward model dysfunction may explain the persistent feeling of incompleteness even after properly executed actions and the obsessed searching for control in these patients.
Performance and cognitive neuroscience : an interdisciplinary approach (Oral presentation)
This presentation will map out the interdisciplinary research between performance and cognitive neuroscience that has been taking place in the last few years and will problematize the ‘neuro-turn’ that is thereby indicated. Ranging from empirical research (fMRI, EEG, PET) to cognitive theoretical research (questionnaires, interviews, cognitive tests) the majority of these examples indicate a conceptual re-turn to binary and essentialist modes of thinking (body/mind split, regarding the text as the basis of theatre, looking at the dancer as virtuoso par excellence etc.). However, since the discovery of the mirror-neurons, developments in cognitive neuroscience emphasize inter-subjectivity, processes of embodiment / embrainment and an understanding of action and perception as happening collectively among our brains. Against this background, it will be argued that methodological experimentation and theoretical discourse need to be developed alongside the interdisciplinary research, in order for this field to be fertile.
Gods in the Flesh. Learning emotions in the Xangô Cult possession cult (Poster)
Drawing on first-hand ethnographical data from the Xangˆo, an Afro- Brazilian Cult in Recife (Brazil), I defend that learning possession means in the first place to learn to identify and react to specific emotional states in accordance with cultural representations and expectations. This emotional learning would take place through two potential processes during ritual activity. On the one hand a powerful coupling process linking “uncanny” body arousals to mythological imagination captured by the highly evocative content of songs, invocations, objects and substances during ritual activity. Ritual features such as archetypality, rigidity, regularity, redundancy and spatial and temporal delimitation are propitious for eliciting and “boosting” this coupling process. On the other hand, a social referencing process through which emotional and behavioral reactions towards possessed persons act for novices as reliable indicators of how to recognize, interpret and regulate their own emotional states associated with possession. With growing familiarity with possession’s conceptual and experiential background, their emotional reactions might evolve from largely undifferentiated arousal states to “orixá-specific” somatic signature and novices might become more active towards their own possession. They also demonstrate an increasing sensitivity to isolated emotional elicitors of possession as well as a better control over their emotional reaction.
Still here (Oral presentation)
In this presentation I discuss my current research project that explores the relationship between self and other through the context of participatory performance. I consider the importance of exterior conditions to the type of relationship two people engage in. I question if being in relationship is a type of interactivity between two separate entities or if there are ways in which two persons can be said to share subjectivity. I question whether the act of relating necessarily references another person. I propose that we intra-act as we interact, exploring how we negotiate different aspects of ourselves as we relate to others. I investigate the extent to which my relationship to myself is defined by my relationship to others and vice versa. This leads me to identify different qualities of interaction that constitute different modes of presence. My focus is on the relationship between performer/choreographer and the audience member. Performance theorists argue that participatory performance work is re-defining the role of the audience within the performance. The act of participating transforms their role from that of the passive viewer (as in traditional theatre) to that of an active participant.
This presentation is a reflection on the explorations I undertook in the making of the performance work Still Here.
In this presentation I outline three main issues related to the question of relationship that emerged through my practice. Firstly, I propose that we rethink how we define the relationship between performer and audience member allowing space for the conditions of the performance to be considered as an integral element of this relationship. I discuss how in the work Still Here the conditions created by the choreographer (set, lighting, timing of events, sound score, dramatic unfolding of the action) and by the performer, in particular their mode of presence pre-determine the type of relationship the audience and the performer are able to engage in. Secondly, I discuss how the element of fragility and uncertainty that is prevalent in live performance work is heightened in participatory work. I propose that the fragility of the performer is experienced by the fact that she is constantly negotiating different aspects of herself during the live interaction. I explore how this negotiation may in turn result in various modes of presence that illicit different types of audience-performer relationships. Lastly, I consider the mode of presence of the audience, and suggest that participatory work requires that they engage in what I call ‘attentive presence’.
Blog-journal for the creation of Still Here: join-the-journy.com
Platform for an exchange between academics and artists: http://spiralsandhorizontalconnections.wordpress.com
Movement improvisation and decision making (Poster)
Movement improvisation allows the observation and modulation of behavioral patterns implying decision-making (choice of a movement or a sequence of movements in response to inner motivations like sensations, emotions, thinking etc. and/or to outer stimuli – other person’s movement, touch, sound etc.). How is a particular movement, action or a course of action selected instantaneously and then combined to give rise to a readable and understandable structure? What are the processes underlying these decisions and how are they represented in the nervous system? In order to tackle these questions I will on one hand try to elaborate some principles of compositional improvisation and the example of tools that are being used to facilitate/stimulate the decision-making process and try to relate them to the principles of embodied cognition.
On the other hand I will use the example of behaviors that occur in response to somatic stimulations in the fruitfly larva to show how a simple nervous system could be exploited to unravel the principles of the neural basis of decision-making.
Being moved by the self and others. How empathy influences whole-body self-motion perception (Poster)
The observation of conspecifics influences our bodily perceptions and actions: Contagious yawning, contagious itching, or empathy for pain, are all examples of mechanisms based on resonance between self and others. These effects are associated with a mirror neuron system, which has been demonstrated for the processing of motor, auditory and tactile information. To date, however, no study has yet investigated the role of a mirror system in whole-body self-motion perception. Using a state-of-the-art full-body motion we showed that vestibular perception is modulated by the observation of a full body (either one’s own body or another age- and gender-matched body) in motion. Viewing one’s own body or another body being passively rotated influenced vestibular perception, but in different ways. The observation of one’s own body in motion disrupted the detection of physical self-motion when it was incongruent, while the observation of incongruent motion of another body had a weaker influence. In addition, we found that empathy traits modulated this effect: The congruency effect was correlated with individual empathy scores, subjects with high empathy scores being more disturbed by the observation of another body being moved incoherently. The results from this study provide first evidence for a vestibular mirror system.
15 min whole group feldenkrais excercise
I will be offering a short Feldenkrais Class – one that brings awareness to one side of the body and direct people’s attention to how that not only changes the internal perception of the self but also the perception of the world around us.
Malcom Manning will also be offering a physical warm-up in the morning :
One of my specialities is the application of somatic and postmodern dance practices to everyday life situations. The aim is to foster a physical dialogue with ourselves and the environment in which we become empowered to be our own experts. A major element of my work is the ability to create the conditions to greet ourselves with a childlike sense of wonder, to engage playfully with our innate curiosity unhindered by expectation. This attitude, as much as the material itself, is what I offer according to my students. I am particularly interested in playing with the implications of how movement and perception are two sides of the same coin. We will do some simple things to awaken ourselves comfortably to the coming day.
Learning to like it: Aesthetic perception of bodies, movements and choreographic patterns (Poster)
Observing human movement can be a powerful aesthetic experience. We have investigated experimentally the aesthetic effects of three levels of movement representation: body postures, movements and choreographic patterns, using apparent biological motion. Symmetrical (ABCDCBA) and asymmetrical (ABCDBCA) sequences of apparent movement were created from static postures, and were presented in an artificial grammar learning paradigm. Additionally, “Good continuation” of apparent movements was manipulated by changing the number of movement path reversals within a sequence. In an initial exposure phase, one group of participants saw only symmetrical sequences, while another group saw only asymmetrical sequences. In a subsequent test phase, both groups rated individual static body postures and all sequences on an aesthetic evaluation scale. Both groups gave higher ratings to symmetrical sequences with “good” continuation and lower ratings to sequences with many path reversals. Both groups also preferred static postures that maximized spatial symmetry. Additionally, participants who had been initially familiarized with asymmetrical sequences showed increased liking for asymmetrical sequences, suggesting a structural mere exposure effect. Aesthetic preferences thus depend on body postures, local apparent movement continuation and global choreographic structure. We propose a hierarchical model of aesthetic perception of human movement with distinct processing levels for postures, movements and composition and discuss our findings in the light of existing theories on embodied cognition and processing fluency.
Dance and somatic education work as a space of social experimentation : notes on an ongoing practice-based research (Poster)
Starting in 2011, this research reflects on the collective and social dimension of dance and somatic practices. It is attached to investigating the political uses of dance and somatics in the field of mental health and social work in France, through the experience of bringing dance and somatic workshops into several psychiatric and social work contexts. Working not only with socially vulnerable people concerned by psychiatric suffering, but also within the complexity of the apparatus of institutions in charge of supporting them, this research focuses in a situated and interdisciplinary approach of dance and somatics as possible practices of empowerment.
Dr Ana Tajadura-Jiménez
Action sounds recalibrate perceived tactile distance (Poster)
Almost every bodily movement, from the most complex to the most mundane, such as walking, can generate impact sounds that contain spatial information of high temporal resolution. Despite the conclusive evidence about the role that the integration of vision, touch and proprioception plays in updating body-representations, hardly any study has looked at the contribution of audition. We show that the representation of a key property of one’s body, like its length, is affected by the sound of one’s actions. Participants tapped on a surface while progressively extending their right arm sideways, and in synchrony with each tap participants listened to a tapping sound. In the critical condition, the sound originated at double the distance at which participants actually tapped. After exposure to this condition, tactile distances on the test right arm, as compared to distances on the reference left arm, felt bigger than those before the exposure. No evidence of changes in tactile distance reports was found at the quadruple tapping sound distance or the asynchronous auditory feedback conditions. Our results suggest that tactile perception is referenced to an implicit body-representation which is informed by auditory feedback. This is the first evidence of the contribution of self-produced sounds to body-awareness, addressing the auditory-dependent plasticity of body-representation and its spatial boundaries.
Mark Lewis Tompkins
Willfulness and surrender (Oral presentation)
Since my encounter with Lisa Nelson and Steve Paxton in 1978, the study of body/mind systems has been fundamental to my teaching and nourished my performance work immensely. Working hands on with the senses and perceptions has continually opened many exciting and unknown territories for me and my collaborators. I taught Contact Improvisation extensively in Europe and abroad for about 20 years, until my interest and practice evolved more towards real time composition. I participated in and organized many performances and festivals, most notably ON THE EDGE in 1998 in Paris, Strasbourg and Marseille with Steve Paxton, Lisa Nelson and Simone Forti and other improvisors.
In the 90’s, I began to practice extensively in the real world, in urban as well as natural sites, beyond the safe place of the studio, where the irruption of unimaginable meetings and events created concrete situations to play with and against. These experiences were then translated or reenacted on stage in performance.
A new phase began in 2002, when the restoration of an old farmhouse into a studio and guest house was completed in Arbecey, a small village in the east of France. I began offering summer intensives with a direct link between the studio and the forest and farmland of the surrounding countryside. In these workshops, I transmit the consciousness of a feedback system that flows between the rude awakening that nature offers and the urgencies that the abstraction of the studio demands. The work operates simultaneously between the poles of willfulness and surrender. When to push, when to let go.
In my set performances, this notion of willfulness and surrender is more oriented towards the relation between what is happening on stage and how the spectator is witnessing it. I create images, states and expectations, then let go, or go somewhere unexpected. These shifts produce (hopefully) a suspension of belief for the spectator that allows other sensations and perceptions to open and operate. I call this a dramaturgy of complex images.
Impaired “motor resonance” in emotion recognition in Huntington’s Disease (Poster)
Patients with Huntington’s Disease (HD) have marked motor impairments, but also cognitive and emotion deficits. Notably, their impairments in recognising emotions in others is correlated to their own difficulties with performing accurate emotional facial expressions. Here we opposed the hypothesis that this double impairment is tied to impaired motor representations for emotions, to the alternative hypothesis, that feelings and internal body states are no longer understood by these patients. 1) Overt imitation, 2) performing emotion expressions from words, and 3) spontaneous micro-mimicry when viewing emotion expressions were tested using electromyography (EMG) over three facial muscle regions (zygomatic, corrugator and nasalis) in 28 early HD patients and 18 matched controls. 4) the ability to describe and identify feelings and internal body states were tested using an alexithymia questionnaire. 5) For comparison, emotion recognition was also assessed. For 19 patients we additionally acquired structural brain scans. HD show specific muscle activation in overt imitation and production, but significantly less than control subjects. Spontaneous micro-mimicry is absent. This is paralleled by impaired emotion recognition in these patients, but contrasts with normal performance in the alexithymia questionnaire. Emotion recognition and imitation performance is correlated to structural brain changes in the caudate nucleus, the inferior frontal gyrus, and somatosensory cortex. These results suggest that neural systems supporting motor aspects of emotion expressions, shared for self and others, are impaired in HD patients, while their ability to understand feelings and internal body states remains intact.