Friday, 24 April 2015

Life is precious! Dance dance dance!

This is Alice Barker, aged 102.

In the 1930s and 1940s she was a chorus-line dancer during the Harlem Renaissance, dancing alongside luminaries such as Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly.
But despite starring in films, commercials and TV shows, Alice had never seen herself dance on film, so Mark Cantor of Jazz Film and David Shuff helped to remedy that, and it's a beautiful thing...

“making me wish I could get out of this bed and do it all over again”. -- Alice Barker

The Marble Hand Illusion

Just came across this study via that provides some interesting evidence that our self-image is easily modified, and that the modifications have physiological consequences.
Moshe Feldenkrais was fond of saying “we move in accordance with our self image.”
I think he was on to something...  

Here is the abstract...
 Our body is made of flesh and bones. We know it, and in our daily lives all the senses constantly provide converging information about this simple, factual truth. But is this always the case? Here we report a surprising bodily illusion demonstrating that humans rapidly update their assumptions about the material qualities of their body, based on their recent multisensory perceptual experience. To induce a misperception of the material properties of the hand, we repeatedly gently hit participants' hand with a small hammer, while progressively replacing the natural sound of the hammer against the skin with the sound of a hammer hitting a piece of marble. After five minutes, the hand started feeling stiffer, heavier, harder, less sensitive, unnatural, and showed enhanced Galvanic skin response (GSR) to threatening stimuli. Notably, such a change in skin conductivity positively correlated with changes in perceived hand stiffness. Conversely, when hammer hits and impact sounds were temporally uncorrelated, participants did not spontaneously report any changes in the perceived properties of the hand, nor did they show any modulation in GSR. In two further experiments, we ruled out that mere audio-tactile synchrony is the causal factor triggering the illusion, further demonstrating the key role of material information conveyed by impact sounds in modulating the perceived material properties of the hand. This novel bodily illusion, the ‘Marble-Hand Illusion', demonstrates that the perceived material of our body, surely the most stable attribute of our bodily self, can be quickly updated through multisensory integration.

and if that's caught your interest check out these articles...

The Thermal Grill Illusion
Review of Lorimer Moseley Conference Part Three
The Rubber Hand Illusion
More on Pain and Illusions
Watch Your Back: Mirrors Reduce Back Pain

Thursday, 23 April 2015


Roots and leaves themselves alone are these;
Scents brought to men and women from the wild woods, and from the pond-side,
Breast-sorrel and pinks of love—fingers that wind around tighter than vines,
Gushes from the throats of birds, hid in the foliage of trees, as the sun is risen;
Breezes of land and love—breezes set from living shores out to you on the living sea—to you, O sailors!
Frost-mellow’d berries, and Third-month twigs, offer’d fresh to young persons wandering out in the fields when the winter breaks up,
Love-buds, put before you and within you, whoever you are,
Buds to be unfolded on the old terms;
If you bring the warmth of the sun to them, they will open, and bring form, color, perfume, to you;
If you become the aliment and the wet, they will become flowers, fruits, tall blanches and trees.

--Walt Whitman


Touch is a series of hyperreal paintings by Korean artist Kwangho Lee.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

natural colours

"Flowers, and thoughts of flowers, were Miss Foxe's main occupation. She didn't especially care for motion pictures; she found them too noisy. She would have liked to have had friends to lend books to and borrow pie dishes from. But it was difficult for Miss Foxe to reach that stage with anyone. She spoke so quietly that people couldn't understand what she was saying and quickly lost patience. When she paid for things in shops, the change was invariably placed on the counter instead of in her hand. Miss. Foxe occasionally wondered if she had spent her life approaching invisibility and had finally arrived at it. She encouraged herself to see her very small presence in the world as a good thing, a power, something that a hero might possess."

--Helen Oyeyemi, Mr. Fox.

Gerhard Richter
"Hang your roses upside down and keep the last love in
The great thing about winter flowers is they look alive when they're long gone
So hang your roses upside down and keep the last love in them"

-- Martha Tilston, Winter Flowers

take heart

"We take heart in ourselves for being a conglomerate of things that don’t necessarily work out. We are temporal and fragile, but we get a strength from being mended and repaired. That in-between of existence..." 

-- Kiki Smith

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Pina Bausch, Masurca Fogo
each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not the events have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose what it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, im going to be happy in it

- Groucho Marx

a life time

Over 14, in the middle and over 65 all dancing Pina's Kontacthof
Watch, move with and play with people of all ages. You'll learn alot!
“ Better a broken arm than a broken spirit." 

- Lady Allen of Hurtwood, 1968

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Saturday Poem

a piece of quartz

"My brother once showed me a piece of quartz that contained, he said, some trapped water older than all the seas in our world. He held it up to my ear. ‘Listen,’ he said, ‘life and no escape.’
Anne Carson, Plainwater.

Saturday Cartoon

Tom Weksler

Friday, 17 April 2015

Eadweard Muybridge

Eadweard Muybridge was an English photographer important for his pioneering work in photographic studies of human and animal motion, and early work in motion-picture projection.
Sometimes you have to slow things down to understand whats going on.


"Movements are not programs. They are intent, followed by constant adaptation to variables. The more control a person has over their individual articulations, the more degrees of freedom = better adaptability."

--Dr Andreo Spina

Shared Balance


Getting to know yourself through movement is not like instant coffee.
You gotta grow the beans,
Pick them
Dry them
Roast them
Cool them properly
Grind them
Brew the coffee
Warm the cup
Add the milk
And then you realise you prefer tea.

It's a process!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

slow motion

Cheetahs on the Edge--Director's Cut from Gregory Wilson on Vimeo. The spinal motions! Can you see the similarities in the suppleness of the spine?

why slow movement builds coordination

"There are several excellent reasons to use slow and gentle movement as a means to develop coordination. Probably the most interesting reason (I’ll start with that one) is based on an obscure principle called the Weber Fechner rule. The Weber Fechner rule describes the relationship between the magnitude of a particular stimulus and the brain’s ability to sense differences in the amount of the stimulus. The basic rule is that as you increase the stimulus, the ability to tell a difference in the amount of the stimulus decreases. This is a very common sense idea. Imagine you are in a dark room with only one candle lit. It will be very easy to sense the difference when one additional candle is lit. But if you are in a room with two hundred candles, you will have no idea when an extra candle comes on.

This rule works for all varieties of sensory perception, including sensations of muscular effort. So, imagine you are holding a one pound potato in your hand while blindfolded. If a fly landed on the weight you would not know the difference, but if a little bird landed you would know. Now imagine holding a fifty pound potato. You wouldn’t be able to feel the little bird landing. It would have to be an eagle. The point is that when you increase the weight from one pound to fifty pounds, you become about fifty times less sensitive to changes in the amount of muscular force you are using to lift the weight.

Why do we care? Because if you want to make your movement more efficient, you have to be aware of when you are working too hard. If you slow down and thereby increase your ability to sense differences in muscular effort level, you increase the brain’s ability to sense and correct any potential excess and unnecessary effort. Imagine that every time you try to extend the hip, you are at the same time slightly contracting the hip flexors instead of relaxing them. This means that your muscles are cross-motivated – the flexors are fighting the extensors a little in their effort to extend the leg, making them work harder. You will be much better able to sense and inhibit this inefficient co-contraction by moving very slowly and easily. By contrast, if you move fast and hard, you will never be able to sense and correct the problem."

--Todd Hargrove (extract from a blog post, read the rest on his very informative blog here)


Found here

It’s non-threatening stuff

BB My ex-boyfriend used to tease me, he’d come in when I was working and say, “Working on your dowry?” At certain times I’ll put myself on an art diet, I’ll say: no more dishes, no more 19th century, no more household objects. The use of them becomes a habit and then a style, which is not ever what I intended, it’s embarrassing. But then I think, why am I so drawn to these things? It’s not that they’re from the feminine domain, although I’m certainly aware of it, but it has more to do with scale. I’m attracted to the enormous, important matters of life that take place on a small, everyday scale. Nabokov, a favorite writer of mine, pays incredible attention to details, like a glass breaking. In our culture everything which is large and grandiose is assumed important, and everything which is small is considered of less importance. I don’t think that way. I’m interested in a gesture or an expression on someone’s face. And that gets paralleled in the object-making world as well.

KS It’s non-threatening stuff.

BB I guess. It’s quite presumptuous but I want the experience of looking at my art work to change someone’s life. And I feel that if you give someone a big experience then they have to translate it back into the normal world. But if you give them a small experience which is somehow confusing or profound, but in the realm of their own world, then it doesn’t have to be translated, it’s already there. Because it’s not that far away from theirs. Does that make sense?

KS Yeah, it has an accessibility to the here and now, except that it’s an altered accessibility.

BB What I present is not the real world, it is fantasy, but the fantasy world spins off the real world. It’s not about War and Death; it is about loss or absence. Recently, I’ve been thinking that I’m attracted to these objects because they are breakable. I’ve always been attracted to objects which because of their fragility have an implicit absence, like glass and porcelain. I’m slowly working on this piece that has to do with things that have been broken and repaired. They’re based on the traditional Asian art form of repairing broken objects with gold. It’s almost like dental work.

KS It’s making the repair evident and obvious, a part of the experience.

BB Rather than hiding something that’s broken, it aggrandizes it, saying that something that has a history, that is not perfect anymore, is more beautiful and more valuable than something which has no history. It’s the opposite of our culture. When I was in Japan and saw these for the first time, they were so beautiful that they made me cry. And then with this accident that I had recently where I—got so broken. This is the perfect metaphor: to think about objects that are repaired with gold. These objects are stand-ins.

KS We take heart in ourselves for being a conglomerate of things that don’t necessarily work out. We are temporal and fragile, but we get a strength from being mended and repaired. That in-between of existence . . . Glass and ceramics are the two materials that are the most telling. Pot shards are found all over at archeological sites, glass ceramics all over the Roman colonized world.

BB I love that a culture could be told by its pots . . .

KS Both of those materials in terms of art are marginalized, and regarded in low esteem as craftsy-waftsy.

BB Not anymore.

KS I think ceramics is pretty marginalized in the art world.

BB I don’t think that I’m making ceramics.

KS Yeah, I know. Porcelain. (laughter)

Brilliant conversation between Kiki Smith and Barbara Bloom over at Bomb Magazine
Read it in full here.

Beatrice Wood

A Mother of Earth!

Lucie Rie (again)

Lucie Rie

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Mexican hope chest

Barbara Bloom

"Recently, I’ve been thinking that I’m attracted to these objects because they are breakable. I’ve always been attracted to objects which because of their fragility have an implicit absence, like glass and porcelain. I’m slowly working on this piece that has to do with things that have been broken and repaired. They’re based on the traditional Asian art form of repairing broken objects with gold. It’s almost like dental work."
-- Barabara Bloom in conversation with Kiki Smith.

The Hope Chest

"My mother owned a long narrow cedar trunk that looked to me, when I was a little girl, like a coffin. It was at the end of her bed and my mother would pile quilts on the coffin, covering its surface. If the quilts were spread over a bed, I would see that the wood was carved with flowered panels. Among these flowers sat a small copper lock, cool as a wasp, securing my mother’s box from the destructive forces of curious children like me.
Eventually, I found a way to break into the trunk, but when I saw the contents, I couldn’t understand why my mother had locked it to begin with. It was filled with the most mundane things imaginable: A stack of white embroidered napkins, china cups and plates with silver at the edges, a cut crystal candy bowl, an album that contained mementos of me, my sister, and my brother: locks of hair, scraps of baby blankets, inked baby footprints. The air was musty inside the trunk, as if I’d entered the closed darkness of a cellar. I’d expected to find bars of gold bullion, jeweled cups, or at least a birthday present hidden among the tissue paper."
True Romantic #5: The Hope Chest

in praise of slowness

Highly recommend taking a look/listen to Carl Honore on the subject of slowness. His book, and this TED talk, describes The Slow Philosophy, a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.

“Spending more time with friends and family costs nothing. Nor does walking, cooking, meditating, making love, reading or eating dinner at the table instead of in front of the television. Simply resisting the urge to hurry is free.”
― Carl HonorĂ©, In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed

(image found here)
“I’m in no hurry: the sun and the moon aren’t, either.
Nobody goes faster than the legs they have.
If where I want to go is far away, I’m not there in an instant.”

― Alberto Caeiro, The Collected Poems of Alberto Caeiro

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Saturday Poem

If you gave me
half a moon of a chance
i would
kiss the incisors
out of your mouth, clean
and hold them in my
own, like chippings
from an old mug
pray my tongue into
a bowl of holy water
and ask god to never
leave you thirsty

-- Warsan Shire

Saturday Cartoon

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Anthony Gormley

Chinese Manchu porter carrying tray on head.
Found here.

Gokhale Head Cushion

If you have nothing suitable to play and practice the art of head carrying with may I suggest this head cushion from Esther Gokhale...

 Here is the website has to say...

"Of all the techniques Esther has experimented with, her favorite way to help people with upper body posture is placing a small amount of weight on the head. This is our oldest and most primal way of carrying objects and it evokes all the neck and back stabilizing muscles semi-automatically. Most students find the cushion helpful to:
  • Find their natural axis of the spine,
  • Strengthen the deep cervical (longus colli) muscles
  • Remind them to keep their head’s up!"
I concur!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Elderly farmer couple head home carrying their... by WildFilmsIndia

Head Carrying

a very natural human you do it?


Loads Are Like Snowflakes- Every load experienced by the body, whether the distortion is created by our activity (or lack thereof), the position of that activity, the impact of that activity, or the receptiveness of that activity (or lack thereof), is its own “nutrient”.

-- Katy Bowman

looking at head carrying this week...
"Kiki's studio is practically her body"
Artists need some kind of stimulating experience a lot of times, which crystallizes when you sing about it or paint it or sculpt it. You literally mold the experience the way you want. It's therapy.
--Erykah Badu

David Hicks