This post presents two audio files which can be found within the article In Touch and Between: A Tactile Toolkit for Creative Practitioners to Navigate Touch within their Creative Practice under the subheading Acclimatising the Body and Sonic Dominance. They have risen as part of my practice as research which began before the Covid 19 pandemic and has been ongoing throughout. This research investigates how touch can be used as a tool to develop creative practice through a somatic methodology using passive, active and intra-active touch within the solo body and between bodies. This initial enquiry stemmed from research around the displacement of touch in Aristotle’s hierarchy of the senses (1951) and this catch-22 between negative associations of touch and the longing for touch due to the pandemic. It aims to challenge power dynamics between the giver and receiver of touch, in a way that can offer opportunities for the receiver to have agency and attend with their sentient body; present new tactile engagements to deepen our relationship with our practice; and open up suggestions of touch being a collaborative mesh for us to be in touch with one another. This was analysed within my own solo creative practice and case studies including professional practitioners and university students, in relation to artistic identity and creative inquiry within dance and movement. As a result of this a tactile toolkit has been created which offers a variety of scores/ exercises to be explored through improvisation and offers different methods of engaging with touch highlighting the reciprocal interplay between the internal and external worlds.
This post presents two different audio files which you may use for your own inquiry or to facilitate within a studio/ class environment. This first audio (Acclimatising the Body (figure 1)) is a somatic guided offering which prepares the body for somatic practice, whilst the second is a score/ exercise itself for you to respond through improvisation and your sense of touch. Findings have been collated for the second score (Decibel Negative (figure 4)) and are presented in the article mentioned above, however it is not a necessity to have read these as they are just observations. We have our own tactile language and so what we experience will be subjective and significant to ourselves.
Acclimatising the Body (figure 1)
This is a guided offering which aims to prepare the body for somatic practice by drawing awareness to the sense of touch whilst releasing any thoughts or pre-conceptions which may be present. It will enable the body to become more receptive to stimulation and approach the scores/ exercises presented in the article through a holistic presence. This audio can be used for your own creative practice and engagement with the scores/ exercises or within a class environment to enable students to settle. This audio could also be used independent from the article and become incorporated into any form of somatic practice which encourages tactile awareness. It will ask you to find a comfortable resting position and close the eyes so please ensure that you feel comfortable with your environment to do so. It is recommended to be done with stillness so to help draw attention to the body. Throughout, I ask you to listen to the offerings through your sense of hearing but also to notice sensations through the skin and promote a tactile awareness between ourselves and the world.
Decibel Negative (figure 4)
This audio is a soundscape Joe Mathew curated as part of the research and the sound itself is used as a score/ exercise for creative improvisation. The sound uses low frequencies in order to enhance the vibrations and offers awareness on how we perceive this through our sense of touch rather than hearing, also known as ‘sonic dominance’ (Henriques 2010). It will begin to introduce the lived notion of the skin in that our body may respond subconsciously and the creative choices will further highlight our processing of tactile composition (Gunther and O’Modhrain 2003). Due to the low frequency, the volume will need to be turned up to its highest volume to feel the full effect and it is recommended to use a good speaker to become fully immersed in the sound. Headphones can also be an option but the vibrations may be reduced. This can be used for solo creative practice or facilitated within a class environment. Whilst exploring this score I would like to invite you to consider the following and please do share any experiences in the comments:
How can you experience sound as a tactile phenomenon?
How does it infiltrate your anatomy and how do you respond?
How do you move, or perhaps it prevents you from doing so?
How does it affect your relationship to the external environment?
How might it affect your composition?
Knowledge of works
Aristotle. 1951. De Anima. Translated and edited by Kenelm Foster and Silvester Humphries. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Egert, Gerko. 2019. Moving relation: Touch in contemporary dance. 1st ed. London: Routledge. doi:10.4324/9780429030901.
Gunther, Eric and Sile O’Modhrain. 2003. “Cutaneous grooves: Composing for the sense of touch.” Journal of New Music Research 32 (4): 369-381. doi:10.1076/jnmr.32.4.369.18856
Henriques, Julian. 2010. “The Vibrations of Affect and their Propagation on a Night Out on Kingston’s Dancehall Scene.” Body & Society 16 (1): 57-89. doi:10.1177/1357034X09354768.
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. 1968. The visible and the invisible: Followed by working notes. Northwestern University Press.
Olsen, Andrea and Crayn McHose. 2014. The Place of Dance: A Somatic Guide to Dancing and Dance Making. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press.
Sheets-Johnstone, Maxine. 2010. “Kinesthetic experience: Understanding Movement Inside and Out.” Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy 5 (2): 111-127.