robertogreco + sensory   16

The Book That Made Me: An Animal | Public Books
"The Lives of Animals was the first book I read in college—or at least the first book I read in a strange, amazing seminar that rewired my brain in the first semester of freshman year. The course was about animals, and I signed up for it probably because it was a course my dad, who had been advising me on all things college, would have taken himself. He kept animal effigies all over the apartment: portraits of a donkey and a marmot in the bathroom; a giant poster of “The External Structure of Cock and Chicken” in the living room; dog figures of many breeds; pigs, his favorite, in all shapes and sizes, in every single nook and cranny. In the dining room he had a huge pig sculpture made of leather, which in retrospect was a strange and morbid combination: one animal skinned to make an image of another. Our cocker spaniel had chewed its face beyond recognition by the time my mom got around to throwing it out.

My dad passed away in 2016, two years after they got divorced, and I faced the monumental task of disposing of his menagerie. I kept many things, of course, but couldn’t keep them all. It was so easy to throw out or donate clothes, housewares, furniture, even books. I didn’t know what to do with the creatures, who seemed to contain his spirit more than anything else. I laughed when I found a key chain in a random drawer: a little brass effigy of one pig mounting another. That was his humor. That was his mind, his way of seeing, his culture—which was based, like all cultures, in certain ideas about nature. Frankly, he was a difficult man to know even when he was alive. The animals offered me a way in, as they probably did for him.

Anyway, he was the one who saw the listing for a course named “Zooësis” and thought I might like it. And I really did, from the moment our indefatigably brilliant professor, Una Chaudhuri, asked us to read J. M. Coetzee’s weird, hybrid book. The Lives of Animals is a novella, but Coetzee delivered it as a two-part Tanner Lecture at Princeton in 1997, and it centers, in turn, on two lectures delivered by its aging novelist protagonist, Elizabeth Costello. During her visit to an obscure liberal arts college, she speaks hard-to-swallow truths about the cruelties we visit upon animals, making a controversial analogy between industrialized farming and the Third Reich. But the content of her lectures is almost less important than the reactions they generate and the personal consequences she incurs, which Coetzee shows us by nesting the lectures within a fictional frame. People get incensed; the academic establishment rebukes her argument, her way of arguing, everything she represents. Even her family relationships buckle under the weight of a worldview that seems to reject reason.

Her first lecture is about the poverty of philosophy, both as a basis for animal ethics and as a medium for thinking one’s way into the mind of another kind of creature. But her second lecture is about the potential of poetry, and it’s captivating in its optimism about the ability of human language to imagine radically nonhuman forms of sensory experience—or, perhaps more radically, forms of sensory experience we share with other species.

As a person who has worked within the field commonly known as animal studies but has never worked with real animals (unlike so many great boundary-crossing thinkers: the late poet-philosopher-veterinarian Vicki Hearne, the philosopher-ethologist Vinciane Despret, et al.), I often find myself bummed out by the inadequacy of representation: Specifically, what good are animals in books? Are they not inevitably vessels of human meaning? In Flush, her novel about the inner life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel, Virginia Woolf has another way of putting the problem: “Do words say everything? Can words say anything? Do not words destroy the symbol that lies beyond the reach of words?” To which I would add: Do they not destroy, or at least ignore, the creature beyond the symbol as well?

Coetzee has a different view. Or Costello, at least, has some different ideas about what poetry can do. She celebrates poems like Ted Hughes’s “The Jaguar” and Rainer Maria Rilke’s “The Panther”—“poetry that does not try to find an idea in the animal, that is not about the animal, but is instead the record of an engagement with him.” She finds value in poems that try to capture the fluid complexity of a moment of contact across species, rather than try to preserve an imagined essence of the animal in amber. She also defends the human imagination as something more powerful than we give it credit for. My favorite line from the book is her response to Thomas Nagel’s famous essay “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” Nagel insists that it’s impossible for a human to know the answer to his titular question. Costello rebuts: “If we are capable of thinking our own death, why on earth should we not be capable of thinking our way into the life of a bat?” I think it takes an effort of heart, more than mind, to follow her train of thought.

The novella reflects her resistance to the imperious voice of human reason—and her embrace of the messiness of the subjective imagination—on many levels. She’s uneasy at the bully pulpit, as was Coetzee himself. For the longest time I thought that the narrator was omniscient—an impersonal God figure aligned with Coetzee’s own position at that Princeton lectern. But then I read the novella again, preparing to teach it in a lit class where we were also reading Jane Austen. I realized that the narrator filters everything through the perspective of John Bernard, Costello’s son, who has a strange tendency to obsess over his mother’s body (paging Dr. Freud: “Her shoulders stoop; her flesh has grown flabby”) and profoundly ambivalent feelings about her. He is torn between sympathy and repulsion, connection and alienation. He is torn, also, between her perspective, which persuades him to an extent, and the perspective of his wife, Norma, a philosophy professor who loathes her and has no patience for her anti-rationalist message.

The question this novella raises is always that of its own construction: Why is it a novella in the first place? What does Coetzee communicate through fiction that he couldn’t have communicated through a polemic? I think the technique of focalization, which grounds everything in John’s perspective, shows us exactly what an abstract polemic about animals couldn’t: the impossibility of speaking from a position outside our embodiment, our emotions, our primordial and instinctual feelings toward kin. In other words, the impossibility of speaking about animals as though we were not animals ourselves.

Every time I read the book—definitely every time I teach it—the potentialities of its form grow in number. I find new rooms in the house of fiction that reveal how grand a mansion it is. I display it proudly, in the center of a bookshelf lined with animal books like Marian Engel’s Bear, Woolf’s Flush, J. R. Ackerley’s My Dog Tulip, Kafka’s stories, and John Berger’s Pig Earth. The shelf is my own version of my father’s menagerie, brimming with all manner of complex and contradictory creatures. All of them are representations, but that doesn’t make them feel any less real, or any less alive.

I regard my father with some of the ambivalence that John, the son in Coetzee’s story, feels toward his own mother and her thoughts on animals. But I encounter the creatures he left behind with warmth, solidarity, and hope."
via:timoslimo  jmcoetzee  multispecies  morethanhuman  senses  writing  howwewrite  language  whywewrite  fiction  animals  bodies  unachaudhuri  philosophy  elizabethbarrettbrowning  virginiawoolf  vincianedespret  animalrights  vickihearne  rainermariarilke  tedhughes  narration  thomasnagel  imagination  messiness  janeausten  perspective  novellas  kafka  johnberger  marianengel  jrackerley  hope  solidarity  communication  embodiment  emotions  persuasion  mattmargini  canon  books  reading  howweread  teaching  howweteach  farming  livestock  sensory  multisensory  animalstudies  poetry  poems  complexity  grief  literature  families  2019 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Dodie Bellany: Academonia
"In this lively, entertaining collection of essays, Dodie Bellamy has written not only a helpful pedagogical tool, but an epic narrative of survival against institutional deadening and the proscriptiveness that shoots the young writer like poison darts from all sides. By the 90s funding for the arts had dwindled and graduate writing programs—“cash cows”—had risen to fill the slack. Simultaneously, literary production moved from an unstable, at times frightening street culture where experiment was privileged beyond all else, to an institutionalized realm—Academonia!—that enforces, or tends to enforce, conservative aesthetic values.

Among the questions Bellamy raises: how does the writer figure out how to write? How will she claim her content among censorious voices? Can the avant-garde create forms that speak to political and spiritual crisis? Can desire exist in a world of networking structures? To the keepers of the status quo, what is so goddamned scary about experimental writing? Bellamy’s textual body morphs through sex, ravenous hunger, aging, displacement, cuddling with animals. Along the way she invokes Levi Strauss, Kurosawa, Marvin Gaye, Christiane (the faceless daughter in Georges Franju’s 1959 horror classic Eyes Without a Face), Alice Munro, Michael Moore, Quan Yin, Cinderella, and the beheaded heroine Lady Jane Grey. On Foucault’s grid of invisible assumptions, Academonia casts a blacklight vision, making it glow in giddy FX splendor.

*****

There are the institutions that are created without our input and the institutions that we create with others. Both sorts of institutions define us without our consent. Dodie Bellamy’s Academonia explores the prickly intersection among these spaces as it moves through institutions such as the academy, the experimental writing communities of the Bay Area, feminist and sexual identities, and group therapy. Continuing the work that she began in The Letters of Mina Harker pushing memoir and confession out of its safety zones and into its difficulties, this book provokes as it critiques and yet at the same time manages to delight with its hope.

--Juliana Spahr

Way back in the seventies, and before Bellamy, pastiche and bricolage as applied to literature made me yawn. Smug attacks on linear narrative through the use of tired language games aroused my contempt. As far as I was concerned, theory had ruined fiction by making critic and artist too intimate. Then Bellamy’s pioneering graftings of storytelling, theory and fractured metaphor changed all that, giving birth to a new avant-garde. Her writing sweeps from one mode of thought to another in absolute freedom, eviscerating hackneyed constructs about desire and language and stuffing them with a fascinating hodgepodge of sparkling sensory fragments. The result is true postmodernism, not the shallow dilettantism of the “postmodern palette.” She sustains it on page after page, weaving together sex and philosophy, fusing trash with high culture, injecting theory with the pathos of biography and accomplishing nothing less than a fresh and sustained lyricism. What is more, her transfiguration of the trivial details of life by the mechanisms of irony, fantasy, disjunction, nostalgia and perverse point of view prove that it’s not the life you live that matters, but how you tell it.

--Bruce Benderson"
writing  howwewrite  books  dodiebellany  institutions  proscriptiveness  academonia  academia  highered  highereducation  akirakurosawa  levistrauss  marvingaye  alicemonroe  michaelmoore  quanyin  cinderella  ladyjanegrey  foucault  institutionalization  julianaspahr  brucebenderson  bricolage  literature  linearity  form  feedom  structure  language  senses  sensory  postmodernism  dilettantism  culture  bayarea  experimental  experimentation  art  arts  funding  streetculture  2006 
october 2018 by robertogreco
About SYS [See Yourself Sensing: Redefining Human Perception] — Madeline Schwartzman
"See Yourself Sensing: Redefining Human Perception is an explosive and timely survey that explores the relationship between design, the body, technology and the senses over the last fifty years. Get ready to say goodbye to unconscious sensing and embrace cyborgs, post-humans, mediated reality and all manner of cutting edge sensory interventions like seeing with your tongue or plugging your nervous system directly into a computer. Astounding experiments with interaction design, cybernetics, neuroscience and art illustrate how we see and sense, and how artistic interpretation can undermine our fundamental perception of the world and ourselves.

The book presents the work of key practitioners in this field, from Rebecca Horn's mythical wearable structures and Stelarc's robotic body extensions, to Carsten Höllers' neurally interactive sculptures, as well as the work of artists who have emerged in the last five years, like Internet sensation Daito Manabe, Hyungkoo Lee and Michael Burton. The book explores projects such as solar-powered contact lenses that augment reality, LED eyelashes and goggles that allow one to communicate with electric fish, all created with the purpose of transforming and provoking the wearer's sensory experience. Madeline Schwartzman brings together this unique collection of images with provocative chapters and thoughtful descriptions of the concepts informing the work in this book."

[via: "It's an extended research project for her (incl. the book See Yourself Sensing - http://www.madelineschwartzman.com/see-yourself-sensing … - which I helped with the permissions for) and right now she's currently interviewing pilots about the sensory affordances of flying a plane."
https://twitter.com/chenoehart/status/930500542639489024 ]

[See also: http://www.madelineschwartzman.com/teaching/

via "Part of my inspiration for thinking about these vehicles from sensory POV comes from working with my former architecture professor Madeline Schwartzman, who gave us a design project to make a wearable device extending the sensory capabilities of our bodies"
https://twitter.com/chenoehart/status/930500099544719360 ]
madelineschwartzman  senses  sensing  sensory  architecture  design  perceptions  humans  bodies  body 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Sensory Maps
"My name is Kate McLean, an artist and designer, creator of smellmaps of cities around the world. I focus on human perception of the urban smellscape. While the visual dominates in data representation I believe we should tap into alternative sensory modes for individual and shared interpretation of place.

Smells form part of our knowing, but are elusive, often disappearing before they can be described pinned down. Smell perception is an invisible and currently under-presented dataset with strong connections to emotions and memory. I am part of a small but growing number of innovative practitioners committed to the study and capture of this highly nuanced sensory field.

The tools of my trade include: individual group smellwalks, individual smellwalks (the “smellfie”), smell sketching, collaborative smellwalks, graphic design, motion graphics, smell generation and smell diffusion, all united by mapmaking. Download a copy of my smellfie guide to smellwalking.

In 2014 I worked with Mapamundistas in Pamplona creating a bespoke piece of design in situ late in October 2014 and year of “Smellmap: Amsterdam” research collaboration with Bernardo (Brian) Fleming of International Flavors and Fragrances saw a summary exhibition at Mediamatic in April 2014 and at IEEE VIS 2014 Arts Programme in Paris in November 2014.

This year I am working on a unique sensory audit with Guy’s Hospital and St. Thomas’ / FutureCity to generate a London Bridge smellmap for the KHP Cancer Arts Programme and am busy analysing the data and information from smellwalking in Singapore.

I am a PhD candidate (part-time) in Information Experience Design (IED) a the Royal College of Art, a marathon runner and snowboarder."

[via: https://twitter.com/the_jennitaur/status/930267808599961600

"where has this been all my life http://sensorymaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Smellwalk_Intro_Kit_%C2%A9KateMcLean_2015.pdf "]

[See also: https://twitter.com/katemclean ]
maps  mapping  datavisualization  visualization  dataviz  cartography  katemclean  sensory  senses  classideas  cities  sense  mapmaking  smell  sensoryethnography  ethnography 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Commented City Walks | Wi Journal
"This paper presents an interdisciplinary method designed to study urban ambiances. The main goal of the commented city walks approach is to gain access to the in situ sensory experience of passers-by. The key is to acquire accounts of perception in motion. For this, walking, perceiving and describing are simultaneously required. Commented walks are based on three central hypotheses: the situationally-rooted nature of perception, mobility as a condition for the existence of perception, the interlacing of words and perception. This method is applied here to the Grand Louvre in Paris."
walking  perceiving  noticing  2013  urban  urbanism  ethnography  methodology  sensory  senses  citywalks  cities  perception  mobility  everyday 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Millsin' About
"Using the Internet a great deal gives me, over time, the sense that I am rarely or never focusing my eyes in the real world: I am either looking at a screen, or my eyes are just a bit defocused, inattentive. I do not notice textures, colors, details in my environment; I take things in categorically, rather than as they are: jacket (not the details of the jacket); table (not what’s on it).

It is especially notable in its effect on memory: my memories seem more schematic than ever, more like summaries than records of perception. This seems like the habituated result of lots of textual Internet living. I note what happens, but as a tag or a description, not as actual sensory data. I mean: I’m not seeing, not looking. My eyes aren’t targeting anything; my life is in my mind, and it’s blurry and unmemorable."
attention  color  texture  brain  mind  sensorydeprivation  sensory  text  mechanization  internet  online  senses  2012  millsbaker  memory 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Punchdrunk
"Since 2000, Punchdrunk has pioneered a game changing form of immersive theatre in which roaming audiences experience epic storytelling inside sensory theatrical worlds. Blending classic texts, physical performance, award-winning design installation and unexpected sites, the company's infectious format rejects the passive obedience usually expected of audiences. Lines between space, performer and spectator are constantly shifting. Audiences are invited to rediscover the childlike excitement and anticipation of exploring the unknown and experience a real sense of adventure. Free to encounter the installed environment in an individual imaginative journey, the choice of what to watch and where to go is theirs alone."
art  culture  alternative  interactive  storytelling  london  theater  immersive  sleepnomore  classideas  sensory  experiencedesign  space  performance  audience  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
(hm) Electric Literacy Playground
[Wayback link: https://web.archive.org/web/20101028060343/http://www.headmine.net/electric-literacy-playground ]

"In the 20th century, youth culture gave birth to a new sensory training ground that helped us explore and adapt to the emerging electronic environment."

""To think of such a culture as 'preliterate' is already to distort it. It is like thinking of a horse as an automobile without wheels." - Walter Ong"

"Since we are, like the ancient Athenians, living through the beginning of a major technological revolution that is putting pressures on every aspect of our cultural fabric, de Kerckhove's study of the Greek theater should make us pause and ask ...

"What would a playground for electric literacy look like?" and "Have we already created such an environment?""

"What would a sensory training ground for electric literacy feel like?"

"The distinctions between art and utility are already beginning to blur in our digital world."
education  technology  culture  history  media  art  headmine  utility  glvo  cv  literacy  senses  sensory  training  unschooling  deschooling  digital  marshallmcluhan  ancientgreece  play  digitalliteracy  society  sensemaking  bighere  longnow  walterong  tcsnmy  lcproject  shiftctrlesc  secondaryorality  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
Wired Science - Mixed Feelings: Scientists Rewire the Brain through the Tongue | PBS
"Most of us see with our eyes, but what if we could see with other parts of our body, too? The idea may seem ridiculous, but it's already been done. Nearly a half-century ago, maverick neuroscientist Paul Bach-y-Rita discovered that it was possible to "rewire" the adult brain, connecting regions in ways no one ever had imagined. Today, his ideas have given a handful of blind people the ability to see for the first time—using their tongues."
brain  medicine  sensory  senses  science  paulbach-y-rita  tongues  sight 
september 2008 by robertogreco
New Nomads - Royal Philips
"New Nomads illustrates the research that Philips Design, together with Philips Research, has carried out on wearable electronics.
neo-nomads  nomads  clothing  wearable  electronics  research  ambient  ambientintimacy  sensory  embedded  wearables 
october 2007 by robertogreco
[stop]Kontakt
"Its interface consists of several 'electron' and 'proton' shaped cartoon like characters, spread out in the space. These 'contact points' invite you to close several electrical circuits, using your body as a conductor between them."
interaction  interactive  installation  sensory  tactile  art  design  technology 
september 2007 by robertogreco
Irving Wladawsky-Berger: Playing (Serious) Tricks on the Mind
"only beginning to discover the power of Internet-based social networks and virtual worlds. Physical devices...add a whole new class of possibilities. You are playing tricks with minds, but in a...different way than the tricks involved in the Turing Test.
psychology  robots  social  socialnetworks  physical  sensory  senses  interface  virtuality 
september 2007 by robertogreco
PingMag - The Tokyo-based magazine about “Design and Making Things” » Archive » Moving Brands: Into Multi-Sensorial Branding
"Moving Brands from London/Tokyo is a rapidly-growing creative agency that tries to bring a fresh wind to branding methods - by means of so-called multi-sensorial branding."
branding  brands  design  london  technology  japan  sensory  art  agency  pingmag 
june 2007 by robertogreco
Wired 15.04: Mixed Feelings
"See with your tongue. Navigate with your skin. Fly by the seat of your pants (literally). How researchers can tap the plasticity of the brain to hack our 5 senses — and build a few new ones."
body  brain  cognitive  senses  synesthesia  tactile  tangible  technology  human  hacks  data  perception  psychology  neuroscience  science  research  input  future  evolution  engineering  sensory  haptics  bodies 
may 2007 by robertogreco

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