Move reMove

The project looks at body movement as an outreach to inculcate presence of mind. As per performative somaesthetics, daily practice alters perception of experience. In this embodied process, we develop conscious behavior to our likeness. To enhance this process, a somaesthetic intervention brings attention to the bodily.

Reaction occurs to response to the environment. Our body relies on proprioception (spatial-temporal view of self) to develop a sense of space and time. It is common nowadays that in times of stress, we are unable to break chain of thoughts unless there is another stimulant in the surrounding. Dependence on the outside to drive the inside is emphatic to intrinsically motivated action. Enhancing body awareness through conscious movement can help distract from fearful thoughts that generate anxiety about the future or the past. A presumptuous mindset may distract us from creating and enjoying authentic experience whereas our body does the opposite for us. It call for attention to act on particularized intention. Sufferers of anxiety make use the five sense technique to calm themselves by bringing in observation of sensory input. Based on the same principle the project seeks to interact with surroundings, to rouse novelty through an internal focus and body awareness in movement.

Our bodies develop as a result of exposure to certain conditional settings within which inherited tendencies of the body evolve. Conscious actions and repetitive lifestyle patterns sets the trajectory for mind-body development. A combination of genetic material, social structures and intuitive abilities have allowed us to develop continually evolving methods of self-recognition, identification with others, and application of knowledge for survival.

The body nowadays is constantly reaching out for digital devices. Its effects have penetrated life across all age groups. Shaping the behavior of the body and how motor development progresses. The extent of reach of our body has become limited to a cubicle. We are designing artificial beings to imitate even though we are yet to comprehend the overall dynamics involved within such interaction.

Our digital devices represent us. We make effort to individualize the devices so they speak of us and to us. Digitization is able to make product customization unique to each users. The ease of technology is embedded within many of us now. It has become inseparable to our bodies and mind, a tool which comes to aid as easily as embodied knowledge.

As our response to technology, cognitive or behavioral, continues to shape us, our identity is becoming increasingly dependent on it. Although technology may be accessible only to some of us, it has drastic repercussions on mental health and everyday functioning. We attribute many social differences and commonalities based on the relationship each one of us has with their devices. Our bodies and cognitive abilities are constantly under its influence.

Looking at body movement, the design attempt investigates unique behavior and body language of each individual. Routine movement occurs in daily life outside of isolated intentional activities. Applying the principles of performative somaesthetics, what we do as part of our daily contributes to the development of self over a period of time. The project looks to extend the design space to include conscious body movement in the daily rut. It attempts to break monotony through empathy, awareness and experimentation that changes our relationship with our bodies, its surroundings and others.

We come to see ourselves so much from the outside that our internal point of view is lost somewhere. As designers, we have to design for the client and the end users of the design. Starting with a set of design methods that are rigid can make outcome less authentic even if the principles are designed for inclusivity and newness. While conducting research, we have a certain approach, but what happens if we enter situations full of curiosity to learn and grasp all bits of information without differentiation and willing ignorance? The body constantly experiences something new, the change every passing moment. Carrying forward practices without consideration for self and ones’ own rich pool of knowledge may create a similar version as has been made before, lacking the individuality we contain. Each one of is unique owing to distinct experience of life. We are embodiment of inherent knowledge, the society we live in and the passing unacknowledged information. Entrusting the body to make intelligent decisions for itself is not taken into account always. We have come to trust external resources but have forsaken intuition and gut instincts. One can trust their body, its intuitive decisions towards altruistic goals if only we care to remember how we have metamorphosed and adapted over eons to fit so many lifestyles as a civilization. Our body can be utilized as a tool following an outward-inward process where we can open our bodies to be receptive to more insights.

Within information design, we have a design-oriented process. Since design is separate from art, designers are expected to follow identical identified methods and process already discovered, even though they seem to meet at the horizon. When looking at art, one is able to trace how an artist eventually created the masterpiece, thus we see the design to it. As designers, we aim to achieve an outcome with a method already created and experienced by someone. If given the freedom, as designers, we can find and craft our own methods of design. Just as an artist masters their own technique and style of expression. Can designers develop own means of interrogation and invention, well-suited to each individual reaping from the singular perspective that only they could have provided?

Each field of design looks at users as commodities (numbers that determine success rate) in varying contexts, we do this as we generalize, standardize, make associations and draw insight. We try and design to make information accessible and open to assessment against certain parameters. Individual experience is an unsure estimate of possibilities. Outcome oriented approach may keep us from all the available information in any situation. But if we generate value for our own unique experience of the context, can we then obtain from the same an increased empathetic understanding into the effects of the design on the human soma of others?

Positioning myself in the design space where we look through the bodily lens before venturing into the external perceptions, I was enthused to apply the knowledge that resides within my body. I have learnt about the evolution of the body across time and culture. Personally, within the lifetime I have lived, my body has undergone several changes on account of gender, physical activity and changes in perception. This occurred under the influence of dance, theatre, society and the in-between, observing dynamics to social structures in public spaces. The difference in behavior as we interact with different people at different times of the day in a different mood creates our experience of life, even objects. Labels to objects manipulate our degree of engagement that ranges depending on strangeness and familiarity. So far, I have followed an inward-outward approach, letting my mental state manifest easily through the body. Within this project, the aim became to explore the outward-inward approach; to attend and draw attention to the sensory response more keenly than rely on cognitive tendencies. I hope to explore and get a more comprehensive understanding of somatic imagery, sound and movement. Sound shows an uncanny influence on day to day, it may be our own pronunciation, tone, choice of words or in our preferred music. A combination of somaesthetics within a film can provide narration in the most unexpected ways. It would be interesting to see how my somatic practice leads the culmination of the project.

Theoretical underpinnings of a Somaesthetic approach

The Use of Self by M. Feldenkrais

The Technologies of Self by Michael Foucault

Human Nature and Conduct by John Dewey

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

Rhythm-analysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life by Lefebvre

Somaesthetic: a Disciplinary Proposal by Richard Shusterman

Dance, Philosophy and Somaesthetics by Eric C. Mullis

Returning to Health by Anna Halprin

Natyashastra written by Bharat Muni

An understanding of the soma will guide us to effectively reduce our own bias while designing as well as give is insight into possible avenues for behavioral change among users that can create space for conscious living. To perceive as the human soma creates a distance between the objective and subjective observations. It is quite meditative. Working through internal awareness, to give up barriers of language and culture, can give way to a more basic and fundamental way of perception common to most of us deriving knowledge from the body. As animals we have shared ancestors across land and sea. The anatomy is the same which regulates response and reception. Culture differences cause a way of looking that are specific to communities. It creates differences and alignment. Once we begin to practice behavior as means to empathize and understand, we can alter our own experience of situations as we learn from others conscious of how we exert influence as well. Behavioral tendencies are innate to us but with external focus, we forget the immediate unconscious motions we make. With our minds on the run chasing the future of missing the past, we lose on the present. We under utilize our capacity to transform experience by mere navigation of attention. Attention to present brings about a pause necessary to regain peace and serenity in order to appreciate and value the already existing.

Since the commencement of the course and through it, I tried to listen and be attentive and aware of wherever I was. With an optimistic approach and intention to respect and imbibe all the knowledge that was made available during discussions with peers and facilitator alike. Following my somatic practice on an everyday basis, I engaged with movement in different ways. To bring freshness to daily routine, I paid attention; to the object at hand or the muscles that made me move. Giving up intellectual notions and existing definitions created a different experience of things and people, to be curious as a kid.

It is rare for events to occur like they did yesterday, or else we call it deja vu. And considering how many of us are surprised to witness deja vu, I’d say it is not as frequent even though we call life monotonous, it is not really. I realized that familiarity and expectancy dulled experiences if I had inbuilt associations with it, I had to think less of accumulated memory and stimulate mind through interaction with the environment. Observing others in how they relate to their bodies for their own well-being or other purposes provided me with the avenue that I wished to design for.

Applying techniques of behavioral psychology played a significant role in how I obtained information from others. If it wasn’t direct communication, I played with visible behavior to note changes in the others’ response towards me. Along the way, I came to understand intentionality better as it enables an individual to accurate execution of intentions. Optimism and pessimism has an overarching umbrella that guides behavior and body alike were interesting questions that are perplexing. I hope to know one day, if it was the chicken or the egg; whether our perception creates reality or does reality create perception?

Explorations within the design space invigorated astonishing reflections. A personal practice found its way to be a part of the project and has reached a point where I am willing and looking ahead to bring it to others to share experience and learning.

Intuitive experience unearths insights that do not surface until an individual looks within and reflects on their own behavior. Conscious movement as a somatic practice for adults can bring in awareness of habits of the subconscious, allowing us to effectively shape our identity. Whereas for kids, it will help establish a nuanced relationship with the body, given the early start; a more naturalized intervention requiring less effort in future.

Key insights

List key observations, analysis and most importantly, your Insights from them. Include maps, charts, diagrams and critical insights that led you into framing the brief for your outcome/intervention.

Design principles

There is eternal balance to everything.

Design for two facets : the material and internal consciousness

A designer’s imprint on the design is inherent

No matter how accurate the design may be to achieve the designer’s goal, it is still open to the viewer’s subjectivity.

Somaesthetic interventions aims to reduce the gap between the objective and subjective by manipulating the sensory experience of it.

Doing is more effective than thinking, plan at random.

Intentions before, during, and after action determines authenticity of outcome.

Elements contained in dance movement therapy; control, time and weight.

Art is more design-oriented than design itself.

A design statement must be narrow for an even smaller target audience, that may end up being used by many.

Way forward

PROBLEM STATEMENT

Introduce Movement therapy as a meditative practice to Generation born between 1995 to 2010, through Somatic Awareness to inculcate a sense of control over experience improving mental health.

Reflection on ones’ behavior empowers us to detect and identify our triggers, encourages acceptance on the level of the body which reduces judgement towards self and others over time.

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