4.1 Embodiment and Technique

19 April 2021

Embodiment and Techniques  

I will be sourcing the interpretation of the term: embodiment from performance theorist Ben Spatz (2015). In Spatz’s widely sourced book “What a body Can Do”, he defines embodiment in a way that correlates to the manner of practice-led research to which  ‘The Frame’ (this webpage) is geared. Spatz states that the ‘mind is an emergent property of the body, just as 'body' is the material basis for the mind’ (Spatz, 2015, p.11). This inter-being of mind and body is the first essential definition of embodiment which is important to point to as it prevents the confusion of embodiment through a Cartesian mind/body separation. Through further consideration of the cartesian mind-body split, I would like to consider Spatz’s notion of embodiment and adding to it the perception that it is a realm of playability that comes through practice, which determines the depth in which the mind and body are inter-beings or not. However, this standpoint presupposes that there is no actual mind/body split and that knowledge is embodied. ‘The Frame’ can be perceived as a collection of phenomenological techniques that can be applied as methods of awareness to engage with or produce epistemic knowledge (Spatz, 2015 p. 23). The question arises about how one engages with or produces knowledge. To tackle this question, firstly, I will create some ground on which to work. It is within phenomenology that I would like to define how techniques in ‘The Frame’ are to be considered. Phenomenologist Gabriella Farina says that phenomenology; “[…] is not a doctrine, nor a philosophical school, but rather a style of thought, a method, an open and ever-renewed experience having different results” (2014, p. 50). It is the unexpected that is to be found in practice, as it is the practising that informs what it is one is doing, like subcultures, it those who join the subculture that make the subculture become what it is; the outcome or goal of its practice and social function is not presupposed. Phenomenology is a “style of thought” (Farine 2014, p. 50). In suggesting that there is a ‘style of thought,’ one can deduce that there must be other ‘styles of thought’. To then, bring the notion of ‘style’ into practical genres such as dance (‘Jackin’), music (Djing) or the making of art (painting), it is possible to consider the many different 'styles' of dance, music or the making of art in each genre. The way these different ‘styles’ manifest, I argue, is through the ‘techniques’ applied in the action of dancing, in the playing of an instrument or the action of painting. The different techniques of ‘The Frame’ are based on the different subcultures theories and sociological and philosophical behaviours of embodied knowledge. Through the different combinations of the subcultural theories and sociological and philosophical behaviours — by using the different techniques — different styles and qualities of movement will be generated. I believe it is important to clarify that, like with all practices, it is in the doing that the techniques become known to the practitioner and that through practice-led research can the embodied knowledge of this research be understood epistemically.