Author Archives: Lotus

Explorations of the unknown

Still feeling the rush of creativity and intense togetherness after nine days and 75 hours of intensive theater training during the workshop “Creating Transformative Encounters” at the theater Cantabile2. In what felt like and endless bubble of performance art making,  we where drawn into the world of theater director Nullo Facchini´s “human specific theater” – a genre or approach in which the performer invest all of herself in intimate, non-fiction, one-on-one meetings with the theater spectator, aiming for a personal transformation for both of them in the here-and-now of the performance.

And so I found myself taking departure in the most crucial of life´s happenings in my own, personal here-and-now: the growth of a new life within me – literally.

And so we performed together, the tiny one in my womb, and I. Listening, moving, feeling, responding. It ended with a 25 minute one-on-one performance, exploring the Land of the Unknown, in the dark. And there were beautiful, fun and surprising meetings with strangers.

With a tribute to the life on of the unknown that grows in the dark womb, and in all of our own personal different darknesses, and in the darkness that is felt and real and physical and rare.

And with the hope of bringing this format with me, in my continuous development of intimate, personal and performative meetings through sensation and sensorial relation.

Thank you, Cantabile and all the participants, for a wonderful journey!

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New logo

Yay!! For years I have been dreaming about a logo, and now it has come to life, thanks to talented artist Nanna Rosalia. Based on my idea of a visualization of a sensory neuron, Nanna has created the figure of the logo and made it into a wonderfully aesthetic blend that gives associations to neurons, plants, mythical creatures, rune letters and joined sensory organs. For me the logo captures very well the interest I have in making projects that combine story telling, sensorial theater and poetic explorations of darkness. I love it!

In the process, Sensescapes has now become SenseScapes. However, nothing has changed besides the spelling, which hopefully makes the name easier to pronounce – especially for Danes 🙂

Huge thanks to Nanna for setting her print on the future life of the sense laboratory.

 

 

 

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Notes on darkness

Since before its birth, Sensescapes has been growing from a both practical, philosophical and artistic interest in the aesthetic potential of carefully facilitated, sensorial experience. Sensescapes is intended to be a multisensorial laboratory – An aesthetic playground for the senses, encouraging deep realizations and impressions to appear through and with the body as a sensitive, living being.

Sensescapes is inspired by theatre and performance, philosophy, pedagogy and ethics of nature. These are huge fields, hard to capture and make concrete in small company with big ambitions. Yet, within all the explorations and works towards making sense of sensation so far, runs a thick, black thread of darkness. Darkness as an ungoing theme, a fascination, a material, a phenomenon, a dialogue partner and first and foremost an aesthetic strategy.  Here some notes on darkness:

Non-visible sensescapes

For years, the work of Sensescapes has evolved around personal, blindfolded explorations as a method to create, sustain and share aesthetic and playful experiences of relation between self(s) and surroundings. Not as performance, but as a simple, practise-based method of the philosophy of the phenomenolgy of embodied perception. Read more about the investigation of blindfolded sensorial walks, and about turning landscapes into sensescapes, in the Sensescapes master thesis published here on the blog.

Lately, new modes of sensorial exploration and deep listening has come to surface. On a summer afternoon in 2017 a beautiful collective sound improvisation was facilitated in the end of a workshop with young folk musicians at Rethink Folk Music Festival. In this task, each personal non-visible sensescapes from our one-on-one blindfolded outdoor explorations, transformed into a shared moment of playing-as-listening and listening-as-playing, making the whole group of players and audience one sensitive organism in a non-visible sensescape.

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Memories in the dark

This year, an exciting new project, titled “Mit Barndomsalfabet – 28 fortællinger i mørke” (My Childhood Alphabet – 28 stories in the dark) has begun to find its form. A journey away from outdoor explorations and workshops, into the dark walls of the theatre blackbox as a secret room, an intimate space, a personal cave. Framed as a solo performance piece for a small audience, a fragmented, text-based narrative of childhood memories is staged in darkness, using the blackbox as a sensorial and intimate frame for profound listening and playing together.

The performance has been curated and developed through a series of test-showings at Museum Ovartaci in Århus 2018, and will continue its production and development before its premiere at Ubåden, Bådteateret in Copenhagen in August 2019.

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Good night stories

For around a year now, Sensescapes has held storytelling workshops with 4-6 year-olds and their teachers in many local institutions. With “Good night stories” as our theme, we have explored the atmosphere of darkness related to sleep, dreams and the dramaturgy of being put to bed. The children are wonderfully imaginative, and each workshop has given form to a unik good night story in rhyme, based on drawings and stories from the participants. The programe is compressed, introducing the kids to blindfolding and guiding, dream meditation and dream-drawing, fragmented storytelling, new songs, audience-participants and other theatre-related elements. Whenever the physical conditions allow it, we work in dimness or darkness, however the slow pace of sleep and night is present in the work no matter how lit up the room is.

Thanks to the local cultural institution, Børnekulturhus Aarhus, for enableing and supporting this project!

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In the context of darkness

This month, Sensescapes was invited to participate in three enriching days of Performing Arts Relay lab and Articulating Artistic Research seminar at the University of Calgary, Canada. The overall theme was “context” and thus Sensescapes was asked to set the frame of a research process connected to the theme. For three days, artists and scholars from all over the world was therefore encouraged to curiously approach and investigate darkness as a specific context, tool and phenomenon. Immersing ourselves into the dark, our journey brought to surface strong impressions, moving moments, and a space for respectful sharing of work and of reflections.

The outcome of the lab is rich: new tools for creation, new relations, and new ideas for future projects. Perhaps most important is a higher awareness of the importance of reflection of both one´s own artistic language/signature and of the importance of reflection in one´s own production process.  As is many lab processes, a few questions are answered and many more have risen, such as: How to tone darkness? How to capture personal darknesses? How to approach the environmental conumdrum of darkness? And wonderful ideas, such as: darkness as a shower, a variation of sensation and a poetic potential for interbeing. Gratitude to Barbara Simonsen from Seachange Lab for the generous invitation, and to facilitors in Canada for a rewarding week.

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Ending with an anecdote told by one of the participants in my lab group – the canadian puppeteer and director Peter Balkwill – who´s old school teacher would begin every movie class by demanding:

TURN THE DARKNESS ON!

Dark greetings from a dim winter afternoon in Denmark

Lotus

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Wuuups. Wrong email address.

Wuuups. There has been a mistake in the contact information for Sensescapes. Huge apologizes to those of you who have tried to be in contant and recieved no answer. Please direct your emails to

mail@sensescapes.dk

Best,

Lotus

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Welcome to the Sensescapes blog

Dear reader

Perhaps you are new. If so, welcome to the blog. If not, welcome anyway. The blog has just been updated with information on the latest project, etc. Feel free to wander around, scroll down, and let yourself be distracted by thoughts and associations between the pages. If reading makes you want to leave the screen and go for a playful walk outside, or pause to listen deeply to the presence of whatever is around you, great! Do it. Personal sensescapes are available for everyone every moment everywhere, alone or together. All it takes is a serious interest in openminded perception.

This year, I have been extremely busy with lots of stuff, and Sensescapes has been taking a long nap from its activities. Now the laboratory is slowly waking up to new experiments.  Ideas are stirring, concepts are forming, unknown land is in sight.

To be continued.

Lotus

 

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Reflections on play

These days of busy holiday businesses, long to-do lists, cold mornings and bodies in thick black winter coats rushing up and down the streets in relentless search for perfect objects to buy and consume, a word keeps rumbling in my mind:

Leg [ˈlɑjˀ]

In Danish, this does not refer to one of the two body parts that connect your feet and your torso. It means play, or game.

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Leg. Lege. Legende. Legesyg. Legeplads. Legekammerat. Legebetingelser. 
//
Play. Plays. Playing. Playful. Playground. Playmate. Play conditions.  

The playful body

When was the last time you shared a playful moment with someone?

A couple of weeks ago I was in a four day workshop with two lovely teachers from Teatro de los Sentidos – an internationally acclaimed theater company, who for decades has been making immersive, sensorial theater plays with an actively involved audience.

Theatre play. The connection between play and performance is obvious here. In Danish, not the word play, but the word “stykke” (piece), is traditionally used about a piece of drama. However, the Danish word “forestilling” (imagination) can as well be used as a synonym for the theatrical performance.

So, we can say: “I saw the imagination (at this or that theater), and really liked it”

Imagination. Play.

In the workshop, Theatro de los Sentidos kept circling around the intention of creating an imaginary. How spaces can be transformed into imaginaries. How rooms, houses, nests, and other built spaces can encapsulate and evoke dreams.  How this is crucial for their method of creating sensorial journeys where the audience is the protagonist.

The workshop became such an imaginary in itself. For four days, we played countless games. Mostly they were plain, simple children’s games, but they made us laugh, sweat, loosen up and become better listeners. (When was the last time you played hide and seek with someone at your own age? Try it!). We immersed in countless blindfolding practices. And we explored countless rooms in the old, historical buildings of the workshop venue, and made short experiences for each other. Most of the time we worked inside, then at last going out for a while on the last morning. For me, the closed non-space of the theater black box was beautifully contrasted by a stunning winter landscape outside. There is magic in this dark, slow time of the year.

Thank you, Teatro de los Sentidos and Den Danske Scenekunstskoles Efter- og Videreuddannelse, for the (re)treat.

 

The playful city

In the unfolding of Sensescapes, my interest is mainly in how to implement methods from artistic fields of sensorial performance and body work in the everyday lives of everyday people, who work, move and live in everyday surroundings.

In other words: If embodied, sense-based knowledge is as equally important as rational, scientifically based knowledge, how can sensation, sensitivity and sensuousness become more present in our private lives, our homes, work places and  – not the least – in the public space, that we share?

In November, a shared sensescape was created in public, as a Sensescapes workshop was held at the water front of Aarhus, in and around the temporary urban space Dome of Visions. It was part of a three-day urban laboratory program, centered in the fundamental question: How do we create a livable city? (See the whole program here)

Familiar and unfamiliar participants came to explore the space and transform the area through sensorial intervention. The frame of the sensorial workshop was simple as always: After a brief introduction, the participants paired up and tuned into each other’s presence for a moment. Then they set off to investigate impulsively together, hand in hand, without words. One was blindfolded, the other not.

This time, a special emphasis was put on the equality of participation. In any game, so much power lays in the few sentences of instruction! In the intro, I therefore asked the participants to act on their impulses, no matter if their were blindfolded or not. The intention was to create a clear frame for potential curiosity and action to grow. Instead of a blind citizen, waiting for a seeing guide to lead them somewhere, the couples were encouraged to become one joined, impulsive, investigative, playful body.

The game began. Within minutes, individual and shared sensescapes arose.

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Sound play. Photo: Thea Green

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Role play. Photo: Thea Green

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Jump. Photo by Helle Arensbak, Dome of Visions. Take a look at Dome of Visions’ article about the laboratory, for more of her beautiful photos from the workshop.

Later the same day, a few of us blindfolded ourselves and curiously engaged the inside of the dome for a while.

Slowly. In silence. Alone.

 

In a debate on the last day of the laboratory, we re-posted the question: What is a liveable city?

Engaged debate participants suggested various answers to the question. A liveable city is a co-shapable city, a place with diversity, with green areas, with spots to breathe, with respectful meetings, a place where individuals have a sense of belonging.

And so on.

What would you answer?

What is a city worth living in, for you?

Homo Ludens

In 1938 the Dutch cultural theorist Johan Huizinga published Homo Ludens. A study of the play element in culture.  In the book he argues that play is not only a fundamental phenomenon in human culture and society, in fact, “culture itself bears the character of play” (from foreword in J. Huizinga, 1949: Homo Ludens, Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd). I have still to read the whole book, but as with many great theoretical books, reading the first couple of pages already brings plenty of food for thought:

[…]even in its simplest forms on the animal level, play is more than a mere physiological phenomenon or a psychological reflex. It goes beyond the confines of purely physical or purely biological activity. It is a significant function-that is to say, there is some sense to it. In play there is something “at play” which transcends the immediate needs of life and imparts meaning to the action. All play means something. If we call the active principle that makes up the essence of play, “instinct”, we explain nothing; if we call it “mind” or “will” we say too much. However we may regard it, the very fact that play has a meaning implies a nonmaterialistic quality in the nature of the thing itself.

(Chapter 1, page 1)

… a nonmaterialistic quality in the nature of the thing itself! This corresponds wonderfully with the theoretical background of Sensescapes, where the aesthetic is regarded as an intentional search for impulsive perception with no other aim or agenda than the aesthetic experience itself. Thus, throughout the last months, is has become clear to me that the essence of Sensescapes is play. To playfully explore a relational world that is present in this moment, with and through the body, with and because of each other.

But what can you use it for?  Nothing! Sensescapes is useless! It wants to be useless! It intends nothing else than – borrowing Huizinga’s words – transcending the immediate needs of life in the here and now. No hidden evaluation forms. No efficacy measurement. No promise of life changing fitness results, and obviously no materialistic gains. Sensescapes intend to facilitate playful relations between bodies and their surroundings with no other aim than the powerful force of play in itself.

These are the good news.

The bad news is that this work-and-life philosophy is having a seriously hard time in real, actual, globalized life.

As I write these words, news are constantly throwing bombs of depressing information from all over the world. Horrified, dust-covered children from Aleppo. A truck driver killing randomly at a Christmas market in Berlin. Wars, refugees, climate crisis, natural catastrophes, terror, political madness, suspicion, inequality, trauma.

Have our world lost its playfulness?

Let’s hope not. Recently I met a great guy who is founder of the locally based Counterplay Festival. We chatted about play, and he said, almost in a side comment, that playing is highly political.

Of course it is. Perhaps more than ever.

In a time of too much hopelessness, despair and desperation, let us be deadly serious in bringing back playfulness to society. If playing together is transcending the immediate needs of life, play is not only for kids. It is for everyone. I dare even say, it is a human right to play.

With wishes of a seriously playful midwinter season,
and a New Year of hopeful togetherness,
Lotus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: aesthetics, Blindfolding, Cityscape, Playfulness, Workshop | 1 Comment

VILD SANS // VILD DATA invitation

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-13-27-16Have you listened to your city today? Have you felt it? Smelled it? What did it say?

For three days, a team of curious artists, process consultants and researchers invite all citizens of Aarhus to explore the area Aarhus Ø. Together we explore, experience and enrich the atmosphere in the rough, open harbour area, based in the temporary urban space Dome of Visions.

We play with perspectives. We use the body as a mapping tool. We record moods, emotions between pebbles and tower blocks, and challenge each other’s usual way of being in the city. The events are gathered and interpreted through technological data and in the end we look at the result and ask: What is a liveable city?

The urban lab is facilitated as a collaboration between the sense laboratory Sensescapes, the research project Making Sense of Data and the process consultant company Urban Goods. Our vision is the to make a bridge between artistic practice and academic research – between embodied experience and data based analytics. And to give citizens a possibility to explore an urban area that is going through major transformation these years, through experience, reflection and dialogue.

Time: 22-24.11./ 2016
Place: Dome of Visions, Aarhus Ø

Entrance fee: Free

Participants: Everyone are welcome for a couple of hours, one day or for the whole program. Just remember to sign up at vildsansvilddata.dk at the latest the day before your participation.

Sign up and follow the development of the full program at vildsansvilddata.dk and on our facebook page

SEE YOU!!!

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Explorations at the Port of Aarhus

Glimpse from an improvised research walk on-site as preparation for our facilitation of a collaborative, open urban laboratory in Dome of Visions on Pier 2 at Aarhus Ø, coming up in November 2016. Thrilled, trembling and thankful for the opportunity to play with bodies and senses in an urban area that is going through major transformation these years.

Official announcement of the lab in November coming soon!

Photographer, data researcher and observer: Thomas Bjørnsten
Blind walk test participant: Thea Green
Sensorial explorer and guide: Lotus Lykke Skov

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Forest encounters with little people

Greetings from the late summer forest Risskov, where the performance figure Flora is wandering this month.

Flora is a curious and playful nature explorer, who loves to go for a walk and see what happens. She likes her own company as well as being with other childlike souls.

This time, she has invited groups of 4-5 year-olds and their pedagogues to investigate the forest with her. She has brought her backpack, a blanket and a basket, and she has brought her most important tool:

All the senses.

Come along and get to know what experiences the forest will provide today!

Read more (in Danish:) here

Photos: Marianne Duus, Børnekulissen, Aarhus Kommune

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Categories: aesthetics, kids, Landscape Dialogues, perception, Playfulness, Sight, Touch | 1 Comment

Exciting summer news from Sensescapes

A New Era

WITH GRATEFUL SHOUTS OF JOY, it is a tremendous pleasure to announce the long awaited birth of Sensescapes as a sense laboratory, officially organized as an association where YOU can become a member.

This is our fundament:

  • Sensescapes is a laboratory for multisensorial exploration.
  • The aim of Sensescapes is to inspire people to become more sensuous, sensible and sensing in their everyday life.
  • The laboratory seeks to provide, facilitate and develop sustainable activities with aesthetic quality. 

Everyone who agrees with the above principles, can become a member of the Sensescapes association.

The official founding happened last week. On a wet summers’ day, six dedicated souls joined around the wooden dining table in my living room on fourth floor in the middle of Aarhus. Our purpose was to bring the work of Sensescapes to its next level.

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Regulations for our association where written. Papers where signed and a wonderful board constituted itself. The leaders of the Sensescapes association are now:

Chairman: Inger Kærgaard, teacher, biologist and environmental activist with special love for trees (read an interview with her here)
Vice Chairman: Lauge Rasmussen, MA in Experience Economy and co-founder of Pitcherific.com
Treasurer: Jacob Vibe, forester and owner of Vibes Træpleje
Board member: Ida Krøgholt, lector and Ph.D. at department of Dramaturgy, Aarhus University
Board member: Pernille Kølbæk, Ba in Aesthetics and Culture, MA in Experience Economy, project manager at LEGO

 

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Signing the regulations of the association of Sensescapes.

With this lovely, diverse leadership group, and with myself as daily caretaker and developer of the laboratory, Sensescapes is now open for new experiments, new encounters, new immersions and new horizons.

Thrilling.

Would you like to become a member and supporter of the laboratory? Then read more about membership here.

Exploring taste – eating the local

In the spirit of sustainable, sensory encounters with the everyday, a little experiment was made for the meeting. It began with a restriction: All servings was to be made only from locally grown ingredients. Usually my shopping basket contains lots of things that has been shipped from all over the world. By changing my natural behavior with this one-time restriction, I wanted to explore the personal changes in food perception and eating experience. Since I live in the middle of the city and own no garden, this seemed like a fitting challenge for an exploration of the local.

It was midsummer. I took my bike and a couple of books about edible plants and went along Brabrandstien, a path running alongside a lake just outside the city.

This is what I found and brought home:

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What Brabrandstien could not provide, I found and bought at the local farmers market and in local stores.

Coming home, another major change appeared. Usually I do not spend hours in the kitchen. Here there was no choice but to follow the speed of slow preparation. Chopping, baking, cooking, mixing, washing, cutting, spreading, sniffing, arranging, saving, waiting, tasting.

As hours went by, food preparations evidently became a sensory meditation. Not meditation in the sense of relaxing wellness, but in the sense of focused awareness of the present beings, movements, scents, colors and emotions in the here-and-now.

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In my living room the board meeting was at its end. In the kitchen, food was ready.

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Dinner was served

Værsågod (here you go):

Cherries from Brabrandstien.
Homebrewed mead from our wedding two years ago. Strawberries from Samsø. Apple juice from Fyn, and beer from Den Gamle By.
Beets from a nearby field, slowly baked with onion and chili from a family member’s green house.
Nettles and beet tops stewed in homemade butter from the local farmers market and cream from the south of Jutland.
Salats with potatoes from Samsø and goat cheese from Horsens, topped with rapeseed oil from the north of Jutland, and various flowers from around.

Plus some more.

In my home we have an everyday ritual of holding hands and saying thanks for the food before eating dinner. Not as a religious prayer, but as a mindful verbalization of the long procedure of growing, picking, sending, buying, making and sharing the food.

This night, performing the daily practice of gratitude made deeply sense. For the first timer ever at a dinner table, I had an actual, embodied knowledge of the origin of nearly every single ingredient on the table. The presentation took a while, as I listed all the things and the places they had grown or been made.

After hours of talking, the atmosphere shifted as we started eating. Collectively we fell into tune with each of our sensation of the time demanding preparation and the appearance of the food for our eyes, tongues and hands. It was a pleasure.

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A few days later, I read a short book about taste by the Danish food anthropologist Susanne Højlund. She describes taste as a multisensorial phenomenon, not only a sense located in our mouth, but involving all parts of our body. Besides the sensory stimulation of eating, she adds, taste is also a culturally situated experience, colored by our expectations, the history of the food, and the social aspect of sharing it (Højlund, Susanne, 2016: “Smag”, Aarhus University Press). This approach stems perfectly with my experience of our meal. For me, the meal became a full-body sensation of eating a piece of Danish summer.

With great hope for future projects and explorations to come!

Lotus

 

 

Categories: aesthetics, Birth, Cityscape, Country side, Dreams, Euphoria, Gratitude, Motivation, PR, Process, Sensorial meditation, Short experiment | Leave a comment

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A philosophical exploration of the potential of combining academia, art and critique

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