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Reciprocal Sensing (Insensible Sensibilities)
posted by Erich Berger on 25 January 2019

Hosted by Kira O'Reilly with Heather Barnett, Martin Malthe Borch, Antye Greie, Lumi Greie-Ripatti, Mari Keski-Korsu, Avner Peled, Antti Tenetz

KOR

The questions I had considered as starting points for the Reciprocal Sensing group were based on the idea that the environments we find ourselves within in are inherently communicative, that the notional bodies we define, with their provisionally sensory extensions are as receptive as they too are communicative.

AGEEEEEE

       How does a rock sense?

KOR

Nan Shepard’s prose of her moving through the Cairngorms in Scotland, The Living Mountain provided a textual indication, as did some of the psycho-physical practices I have worked with over the years, that facilitate somatic sensitivities to ones environs.

Here then may be lived a life of the senses so pure, so untouched by any mode of apprehension but their own, that the body may be said to think. Each sense heightened to its most exquisite awareness, is in itself total experience.’

Our group was discreet with overt technologies at the beginning of our time together, preferring modes embodied sensing within the scapes around Saana Fell, however later, as the week wore on, thoughtful additions were welcomed onto, around and within our physicalities.

If I had other senses, there are other things I should know. It is nonsense to suppose, when I have perceived the exquisite division of running water, or a flower, that my separate senses can make, that there would be nothing more to perceive were we but endowed with other modes of perception.’

Our collaborative approach was loose, the looseness of the carrier bag described by Ursula LeGuin, which is holding and containing, but also is soft and adaptable for movement of it’s contents so that they can form, undo and reform connections, partial and otherwise.

We were concerned with scale, depths of field, layers and what it was to move across these intermeshings of layers from the macro to the micro and back again. What is it that occurs in this movement? What are the sensory capacities that respond, reciprocate and what kinds of stories or understandings emerge? And, how we might think and do politics within it all? To facilitate these movements approaches were embraced that ranged from silent sensing herd in landscape, slime mould activation, study and caretaking, sauna whisking, wearable sauna whisks, contact improvisation, eating, drinking, sensitive adaptation of rituals, the performing of several sonic scores, breathing with CO2 sensors, tree respiration meditations, rainbow gazing, whiskey drinking, fire watching.

How could we imagine flavour, or perfume, without the senses of taste and smell? They are completely unimaginable. There must be many exciting properties of matter that we cannot know because we have no way to know them. Yet, with what we have, what wealth! I add to it each time I go to the mountain — the eye sees what it didn’t see before, or sees in a new way what it had already seen. So the ear, the other senses. It is an experience that grows; undistinguished days add their part, and now and then, unpredictable and unforgettable, come the hours when heaven and earth fall away and one sees a new creation.’

AT

     From: Antti Tenetz
     Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2018 4:04 PM
     To: reciprocal sensing
     Subject: Hey Herd

I was pondering between pack and herd, but became more familiar with the term herd in our case. "Every wolf in a wolf pack has a place in the pecking order, and they have a very strong leader. Herds have no such hierarchy, and are led by the will of the majority. For example, a pack attacks an animal based on a decision of the leader. A herd flees from a predator, instinctually, and all at once."

I am in bus and hooked to you through its local wifi network.

So I propose from this tele-presence situation that we make some kind of field journal or notebook with our thoughts, quotes, that you think relevant, links, texts, preselected photos, videos etc. as base and also as herds field notes to be used and read afterwards.

      Antti

      Missing you All

Lumi

Key–words: Senses, Many headed, Herding
How we incorporated them in our group:

Senses and herding...
We were walking around for an hour silently in the wild near Saana, without clear destination or purpose but for me personally it gave me a chance to open my senses more. I focused more on smells and sounds of the nature and taste of berries, the feeling of cold on my hands. I first felt the need to say something, but then I slowly realized that it wasn’t necessary. We were communicating in different ways.

AGEEEEEE

      enjoying the driftwalk

MB

Herding / Pack / Leading

The groove and beat from the city, the plain, the train, the bus slowly fades. After 3,5 days my body starts to relax… walking up the hillside in the sunset.  The path is still hard. Filled with traces of the busy tourists, moving up and down every day.


Part of a herd. Wondering around, picking berries that I want the most, time to smell and sense. Focus shifting, tuning in. giving time to the bodily senses to rise in presence of my mind and body. No overruling brain, deciding. 

I can hear and sense the pack around me. Their scrambling around in the low alpine vegetation around me.

HB

To wander, to feel, to roam, to see.
To smell, really smell. Those dark scents of the deep wet earth.
To think in a meandering fashion… like all thoughts, but more focused and more free simultaneously. The luxury of time and space.
 
The blurring of boundaries, the ambiguous edge of me and them, 
skills seep and conversations loop.
Each iterative day a new formation.
 
The meta, the tangibles, the reflections…
 
These are the fragments of this exercise, of trying to put experience into words.

AGEEEEEE

POLITICS OF SENSES - re SILENCE IS BULLSHIT
ecology of privilege
digital sensing (sensing in digital space, lack of senses)
sense and political activism
politics of listening, listening and democracy, listening and dissonance
critical sensing in social-political context

mkk

What is on the other side of the mountain? These familiar creatures, the herd I'd like to be a member of, moving as a unit of not really knowing. The landscape carries the scars of land conflict, war, climate breakdown, tourists, borders... Silently and without comments. Through the herd, I put my hands on the slowly or non-healing scars, cracks and lines. 

AT

Moving and seeing life on the move.

We did some visual exercises based on outdoorsmen and hunters skills on seeing and tracking animals in vast landscape based on recognizing anomalies, differences on landscape in movement, shape and colour. Our group explored and adopted ways of seeing so as to be more alert to movement with three dimensional vision and side vision by using different angles of our seeing, focusing on certain areas on landscape and using concentrated seeing that can able us to focus on certain areas of landscape with a higher capacity for a shorter time. Animals that we actually saw where mainly reindeers, lot of human apes with canine companions and some predating birds and crown and lots of local fauna juniper, lingonberries, crowberries, different mosses, molds and mushrooms. autumn was on its way and most of migrating birds where already on move to south. Ruska Autumn foliage was on tis brighter and most poetic phase during our wanderings and flocking on mountainsides.

AP

How does the human experience differ with various levels of mediation in sensing ? Levels of participation of the body. The common saying is that "human activity has always been technologically embodied", that we always perceive through an apparatus, that the virtual is equally physical. These sayings flatten the different levels of embodiment and of openness to the outside world. . Glasses are not the same as VR googles, numbers are not perceived the same way as movement. Perhaps a richer, more fleshy, deeper bodily sensing experience grants us a better ability to learn and adapt ourselves with the world. Does sensing through more abstract, high level data through technology lead to 'fetishization' of the source matter? Antti was talking about how the hunting hearing aid enriches some frequencies but reduces other. Manipulations of the mind and body.

Lumi

Many headed....
With our group, we got to wake up and take care of our own slime mould. As we accompanied the slime mould growing, we saw that it’s heads split in many directions, earning the term, many headed. When we went outside for a walk, we stopped to do an exercise, where we lied on the ground and pretended to be slime mould. For ten minutes we left our human bodies behind and became the many headed slime mould.

KOR

Slime mould was introduced to the Reciprocal Sensing group by Heather Barnett which provided some layers of material semiotic modeling for our groups organisation and work. i.e. how to be a many headed body with a distribution of ideas, impulses and agencies, how to learn together, how to transfer learning, understanding, sensibilities and sensitivities within a shared environment. Heather provided access to the slime mould as an organism, as well as its presence as a metaphorical enabler.
 

HB

//take 8 practitioners interested in sensing
//between physical and virtual
//between human and nonhuman
//between body and environment
//between self and other
 
//add 
/sleeping slime mould
/environmental sensors
/robotic hands
/juniper leaves
/screaming sounds
 
//results
 
A mash up of the senses and sensibilities, of practices and preoccupations, of methods and madness. A collection of polarities. 
 
What is the collective noun for a group of people exploring the idea of ‘reciprocal sensing’ in a remote landscape? A clutter. A mishmash. An amoeboid. A gloop ??
 
Gloop is a soup. 
Made from a bunch of ingredients, thrown together and cooked slowly on the hob.
It is warming to eat.
 

AGEEEEEE

LOVE FOR OTHER SPECIES
I love my kombucha mushroom
starting to care and love for my slime mushroom

mkk

Okay, berries.
Crowberry. The water. Lingonberry. Sourness of dinner. Blueberry. Sweet sweet. 
I rest my head on the moss and then we play. The world is upside down. Mountain and sky are the underworld, our smiling faces going round and round, I watch trough the leaves that are almost gone: this herd, finding their places, roles, weaknesses in a beautiful dance with strengths. We can wander for so long. Care of trees - care of mother and daughter - care of.

KOR

Avner created an adaption of the Tefillin prayer practice beside Saana järvi on me; facing north, with copper wire, working with the magnetic pole and the yokiebus on my head (please provide proper technical term and explanation Avner). The bodily action of the prayer creating an electrical charge.

AP

It's a 3-axis magnetometer (MLX90393) measuring the exact force and orientation of our surrounding magnetic field, varying along with your blessing's motion. Data is being fed into my computer through a WeMos D1 microcontroller.

KOR

He also created the Tefillin on Malthe; facing north, this time with a compass on his forehead.

MB

Conversations / Discussion

Do we sense the magnetic signal when waving the arm with a copper wire on a mountain side? Are we provoking “science”? Tech and devices sensing vs. bodies. What are the stories we create? Directing our attention overly much to the tip of the finger. Tickling? Tight ? Cold ? Or magnetism? Or solar activity?

Trying to monitor the aurora long wave frequency with devices, but interference comes from the sun and high voltage electric wires.

AP

The Coiling.
The Coil is a pretty magical interaction with the world, with space-time. The Coil is also how Merleau-Ponty connects between the bodily experience , ideation and meaning. The way our body is modifying itself constantly in response to the environment, and then dissipates back, that's how ideas are formed in our body. The coiling is this fleeting relation between what we perceive as the world and our existence in that world.

From The visible and the Invisible :

"Once again, the flesh we are speaking of is not matter. It is the coiling over of the visible upon the seeing body, of the tangible upon the touching body, which is attested in particular when the body sees itself, touches itself seeing and touching the things, such that, simultaneously, as tangible it descends among them, as touching it dominates them all and draws this relationship and even this double relationship from itself, by dehiscence or fission of its own mass."

The Tefillin is the coiling of invisible forces on our body. Is it that without a god we are still constantly looking for this cosmic and spiritual connection with the universe? Energies that we cannot explain. A mysterious meaning for our embodied existence. Why do we keep looking for intelligence in the nonhuman? is there an obsessiveness with post-humanism? Is there fetishiation of the non-human? Are we projecting our deepest fears and desires on the non-human? No matter how much we distance ourselves, any theory that we come up with is ultimately a humanist one. We should be careful not to assign external properties to things without recognizing the fact that these properties are a human invention.
Thinking about *Bookchin: Perhaps we need to dissolve human hierarchies and domination before we can dissolve our domination of nature. Our exploration of nature and the universe is done using our body, and it is our body that is modified as a result. The brain is also part of that body. Our body learns, habituates, understands. But our body is also a part of the world that it studies and speaks the same language. the same flesh. That is why the level of cohesion of the body with matter effects our ability to adapt.

[*Murray Bookchin, writer of ‘Ecology of Freedom’ who inspired many, including the Kurdish leader Öcalan and the federation of Rojava. Antye is also a fan. He proposed this theory regarding human hierarchies, suggesting that they must first be dissolved, if we ever wish to relieve our domination of nature.]

AT

Animals and us don’t express themselves through vision of us, of nature as freeze-on-focus frames of photograph, rather than active, peeking, playful, hiding force fields on landscape.

The base of how you try to see them is through gently recognizing differences in the surrounding environment, in movement, shape; colour and sometimes with integrated senses - combining mainly hearing and on some rare occasions smell but mainly through seeing, visual perception.

AGEEEEEE

FIRE SCORE (in the hut - recording)
- record
- listen to fire for 20 seconds
- imitate the fire for a while
- start "throwing" vocal sounds into the fire
- listen to the fire
- listen to the recording

MB      

Agency spirit and actors

Memory
Agency of the object - shaped - designed
Communicating with the umwelt sharing a semiosphere- interface.
Memory as a way of giving life, Only the storage of information.
The stones has physical / material memory of the shapes, form, the minerals it consists of. - same matter gives it agency –
The shear randomness, materiality and size…
“Where are we going?”  to the top of the hill?  To that big stone in the middle of the landscape. Not a special place… two paths run by it. People have tried to crawl up on it. Scraping the lichen of the most accessible side.  Toilet paper lying on the side of the stone not facing the path.


We sit down against smaller stones lying around.  The berries and the moss is dead next to the stone i direction of the best view.  The agency of the stones, it’s shape, it’s location with a view. Directing people to sit up against it or on it. Keeping the grass, moss and berries from growing here.


I’m sitting against the stone. Enjoying how it acted on me, affected my free will.  There is not a lot of free will, constantly affected by the things around us.  A lonely mountain tourist walking up to us, around the big stone: “Aivan mahtava” [super Awesome (stone)] 

AGEEEEEE

SONIC MEDITATION
based on Pauline Oliveros 

AP

The landscape looks so flat from a distance. Can this perception be fooled by the use of VR? The closer we look at things, we see more details of the 'flesh of the world'. How would it be if we looked at the world through a Selenite crystal which makes everything look as if it's in the same distance? Maybe even when we look at things at a distance, we absorb the details subconsciously. Like the subtle differences in the wind on my face, our interpretation of shadows. Would a painting really be a more accurate representation of our world than a picture? (Merleau-Ponty Eye and Mind) Can I shift the attention of my vision from the world seen to my body seeing, and being seen by the world?

AT

American cognitive scientist Alva Noë claims that perception is something that we do as a bodily skill, obtaining information rather than something that occurs to us. Based on this Mikko Ijäs claims in his PHD thesis Fragments of the Hunt that perception is bound to us through exercise of bodily skills. We as other animals in landscape are attached to it through bodily movement, connected through visual perception and consciousness. If vision can be seen as evolving as a mechanism for motor control, our playful herding and slime mould movement and tests are exploring single cell organism operating in swarm base for sensory input and output and communication. You could say that this was playful approach to origins of our exploration as individuals forming herd in Reciprocal Sensing (Insensible Sensibilities) group.

MB

Agency and spirit of microcontrollers

Sitting in a circle holding hands. Breathing at a recorder, microcontrollers and wifi-modules.
Modulating the sound of nature. Blowing our life energy and spirit on the electronics. As a ritual to bring them alive, while they are a medium for us to make art music that reflects the “Natural” Environment around the sensors manipulated by us


 

AGEEEEEE

1 MYCELIUM SCORE (actually making sounds)
2 actively imagining sounds
3 listening present sound (SOUND OF STONES)
4 Remembering SOUNDS

AP

We shift between states of mediation. Yoga, Hiking, Microcontrollers, Sauna, Sound Synthesis, Wi-Fi. Connecting between them - Copper coils on the body. Sonification - magnet and CO2 sensors to sound, modulating a recording.

AGEEEEEE

Sound of care and empathy - sauna recording
making sauna/tree techno with Mari

MB

Comment:
It already has agency over us the electronics that we have designed, it decides what we do, how we do it. Everything we put into existence, everything we touch. We shape the agency of that matter. Thus it’s super important the intention, and the consciousness we have while designing. What are the underlying behaviours ecologies and cultures that we carry with us.

Being in the middle of nature like this. Highlights the techno-sphere-influence that we carry with us, all the materials, gadgets and tech things we carry with us. 

Mari tried to fight it with the sensing through the dried leaves. Letting the “local” inhabitants (the trees) influence our perception that we had while walking around. 

AP

The robotic hand and vihta hat. An experiment in mediation. Wearing the vihta augmented my perception, but maintained its richness. It was a soft mediation, non-intrusive. The soft hand was my mini-telepresence, an extension of the body. There was no direct proprioception, but I could feel the resistance of the berry on the robotic arm transition to my forehead. I was operating the hand with a syringe, and sensed haptic feedback, because I could feel the resistance of the syringe. I did feel as if the arm was mine. Why is it that our hand doesn't go through the table when we touch it? (Richard Feynman in that video about magnetic repulsion) These are also forces of electromagnetic repulsion. The hand was a soft robotic hand, did it matter? I think it did. This nonlinear soft movement has a deeper connection to the natural world than a mechanical arm. A mechanical arm would hardly even be able to touch the berry without crushing it.


 

mkk

Is a mushroom pretty? How does a rock sound like? What would you like to show me? Mist on the skin as the humidity of the cave surrounds our existences and screams. The mountain turned around because we did.

And the mountain did.