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Without seeing you can be transported everywhere

Memories from a workshop session in Barcelona

About a year ago, a Sensescapes workshop was facilitated in Barcelona, in Parc de La Ciutadella, as part of Experimental Room Festival – a festival with human/time/site specific performances and workshops, curated and organized by Atelier Escènic Stoyanova.

Six lovely Barcelonian souls participated. One of them had brought her mother, who had never tried anything like this before. Some were artists in the performance field. Some spoke English, some not, so one of the participants also functioned as my translator.

We had two wonderful hours together. The participants curiously inhabited the park and investigated playful ways of embodied relation to each other, to the ground, the plants, other park guests, and to all other sensorial components in our momentary sensescape.

During our time together, each participant had the change to be led blindfolded and to be guiding someone else. Every exploration session ended with a short feedback, where the participants paused from their silence for a while, and shared three words to describe their immidiate impression of their experience. Afterwards I have had their notes with the three keywords translated from Spanish to English, so today I can re-read what they said.

Here is a glimpse of the atmosphere around our workshop in the park that day.

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And here are some of the feedback notes:

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I like the way impressions are mixed and open to interpretation in these feedback notes.

Listening. Frightening. The Unknown.

Hugging trees. Seeds. Water.

Wonderful.

Attention.

Tendernes. Trust.

Fantasy, memories, time travels. Why time travels? Because with eyes closed you can be transported everywhere. Countries, landscape, childhood…

The urge to speak and be in contact with something honest, primal and profound.

Sensescapes contains it all.

Thanks to Experimental Room Festival for making this happen. By the way, this years’ festival is just around the corner, so if you happen to be in Barcelona, you might want to take a look at their program.

With hope of many more blindfolded explorations to come,
Lotus

 

Categories: Blindfolding, Cityscape, Feedback, perception, Playfulness, Workshop | 1 Comment

To re-sense the experience. Reactions from a participant.

This week I will give the words to Stephan Gustin, a talented architect who went with me on one of the walks in Aarhus. Ealier I have posted some photos from Stephans’ walk. A week after the walk he sent me a short recording of his impressions, based on the six key words (or key sentences) he had come up with in our feedback session. The highlighted key words indicate immidiate descriptions of the overall experience and on the landscape (see this post for a collection of key words from all the walks). I have translated Stephans’ impressions from Danish, and bring the translation here.

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Stephan and I in the middle of the road. Photo: Rasmus Skov

”This is Stephan’s impressions from the sensorial walk, which was a very good and strong experience. Something I noticed was atmospheres in spaces. Obviously that is also because I am an architect. But your senses became sharpened enormously in relation to the atmospheres. Both in relation to different spatiality, types of acoustics when walking in open space – nature has its own atmosphere in its own space – but also spaces in space. Though I knew we were in a park and a natural resort, then in some places there was a lot of traffic noise, in some places there was echo and in some places sound fell complete silent. That was a fairly intense experience to get. But also to enter rooms. I mean, the tunnel was a room. Or an inflatable room. Or a dome. To re-sense it. You can register it logically, but to be blindfolded, be guided around and feel for yourself. That was a nice experience! To re-sense the experience.

Something I also noticed was the closeness between people. You had someone who had your full attention. It is not so often you experience that, besides talking about girlfriends and love. Usually that is one person, but between foreign people, other people, it can happen that you experience flirt, poetry, dialogue, social contact or friendship. But to have a certain bond… Even though I was blindfolded I could feel there was one hundred percent contact and attention. And that part is terribly strong!! It was not until afterwards I discovered: oh my god, this is what I give my children. But how important it is to do this, because – wow! – how you lack this in real life! So, that was a pretty impressive experience.

Some of the sensations that also lingered afterwards were sounds and light. When you are blindfolded, you obviously listen more that you see. But actually light was the stronger of the two, because it was such a thing that came sneaking in silently. You started outside, but even in the outside space – as with the sense of space – it varied. There were nuances, lots of nuances! To feel, before going into the tunnel, that now you approached another kind of light, another lightning, to suddenly walk under a bush and become confused – I did not know we were under a bush, I just knew we were outside in open air – and still there was a roof. Things like this that “stumbled”, and were light was tricking in some way. One moment all the light was… what I later found out was frosted glass, but I could not perceive that. It sharpens the senses to become a little confused. When your logical sense cannot register things precisely, then you kind of let the imagination rule. That is interesting.

Then I have written a note on urban nature. I am interested in the way we register nature. At one point I was standing, embracing a tree I the middle of a routing of a road, with cars rushing on both sides, and I experienced the bark smelling extremely of particles, that is, petrol fumes. And this gave way to mixed emotions; because the structure of wood is old and here, you were suddenly given hundred years of history from a person that was a tree… a personality… a personal tree… who has a huge history. But we shower it in fumes, and that was… that was damn unpleasant, actually! I like the urban nature, it is a breathing hole, and the place we were in was magical and enchanting. But it was also enormously forlorn. It gives some sense of being out in wild nature, but it is also a little difficult for me. That was my sense of the urban nature. Still I believe that the sensations you get are completely real and can be compared to wild nature. Of course there is no difference, because the body makes registrations in a way. But I do not think the body becomes relaxed the same way as if you were in a place with no sound of birds escaping from traffic, children playing, a lawn that needs mowing or a bed that needs to be leveled. I also experienced the area as very hilly. It is in reality, of course, but especially you feel it when you are blindfolded and have to feel your way around.  It too gives a new and quite peculiar experience of the landscape. Several times since then, I have driven by and looked at that landscape. Even though I see a lot of landscapes as a part of my job, this sharpened my senses enormously. Very well done! I called it semi-dramatic. On the border between… To rediscover that even little things in the landscape can be dramatic.

The last note I have made is a flood of emotions. No doubt an experience like this creates contact to ones’ emotions and emotional self. I do not know what words to put on it. You become grounded, you get yourself to the ground, you have time to breathe, you lower your shoulders and become less shifty-eyed, you are more focused, your breathing becomes deeper. Afterwards I instantly had the feeling that it is okay to just sit and look, to let the eyes drift and to get this calm feeling. It is okay to do it. There is something natural about it. But that is not the natural feeling you have with a deadline ahead of you, knowing that after deadline there are some kids that need to be picked up, and after picking up the kids there is a new deadline and a lot of things to be done. This here, it makes you get a more simple view of reality, and you see that “oh well”, at the same time as getting things done and do what you need to do, you can actually enjoy life and feel peace in your mind, your belly and your body. So thank you for this good experience”

Categories: Blindfolding, Closeness, Feedback, Landscape Dialogues, Material, Thesis experiment, Touch, Trust | Leave a comment

Impressions from the blindfolded walkers

Sensescapes has officially ended as a thesis experiment. Within the last three weeks there has been 15 sensorial walks in Mols Bjerge and Aarhus. I am delighted to say that the concept has been developed, tested and found fit for future practices! Slowly adjusting to the academic office life, I am now dreaming about more walks, more playfulness and much more curious investigation in the (near) future.

As dreams and visions of Sensescapes unfold, it is time to transcribe interviews, look at film recordings, analyze words and pictures, discuss, reflect… and start writing.

As an anchor and lighthouse in the beginning of this process, I open my guestbook.

A small book with big words.

Here it is.

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In the end of all 15 walks, a feedback session have started by asking the participant to verbalize the overall experience they have just been through, with the first 3 words that comes to their mind. These words have then created a basis for our talk about the walk. In the end of each feedback session, the participants – or the walkers, as I would call them by now – have written their specific words in my guest book. Sometimes, by then, they have chosen new words they would think fit their experience better.

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Here is a line of their first 3 (or more) words, the way they are ordered in the guest book. One line for each participant. (Translated from Danish).

Experiences on the old farm in Mols Bjerge:

Wet- Silent – Waves

Different – Intense

Haptic – Playful – Delicate

Magical – Sensuous – Life force

Trust – Calm – Timelessness

Sensuous – Life-affirming – Spring – Rewarding  – Nature

Closeness – Good guiding – Vulnerability

Presence – Warmth – Comfort

Familiar – Great – Shift

Experiences in the Botanical Garden in Aarhus:

Strong emotions – The present moment – Contrasts

Childhood – Unrestrained – Curious

Senses – Curiosity – Trust

Atmospheres in spaces – Intimacy between people – Smells/Sounds

Cool! – Silence – Sensory

Joy – Merging – Childhood memories

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A moment in a feedback session in Mols Bjerge. Participant: Birthe. Photographer: Rasmus Skov.

Later in the feedback sessions, I have asked each participant to describe the specific landscape they have encountered on the walk, also by 3 words. Here are likewise the landscape impressions, also ordered as they are written in the guest book.

Landscapes on the old farm in Mols Bjerge

Farm – Hilly – Weeping willow

Open – Calm – Silent

Succulent – Hilly – Luminous

Fertile – Hilly – Exceptional

Depth – Lightness – Accommodating

Stillness – Eternity – Joy

Countryside idyll – Intimacy

Wild – Magnificent – Calmness

Vital – Calm – Familiar

Landscapes in and around the Botanical Garden in Aarhus:

Spring – Fertile – Human made

Forest – Breathing space – Cultivated

Differences – Senses – Experience

Urban nature – Natural manipulation – Feel hand – Flood of emotions

Terrain – Different  grounds – Sun, summer, spring

Texture – The wind –  Surfaces

 I will not go into analysis here, but let the words create their own associations and curiosity.

With many hours of recorded interviews, hundreds of pictures and a full film recording of one of the walks, I am drowning in interesting, useful, emperical material. It all comes down to these first hand impressions. I am thrilled by the difference in experience and verbalization, and the various emotions and elements the walkers have brought with them to the feedback table. Though a bit overloaded and exhausted from the last weeks, I am so very grateful for the outcome of the project so far. I CANNOT wait to get the thesis writing done, getting ready to do more of this, that I am becoming more and more happy to do.

See you soon!

Peace and light,

Lotus

Categories: Cityscape, Country side, Feedback, Landscape Dialogues, Thesis experiment | 2 Comments

Small stories of today

Today I started in a course of entrepreneurship, facilitated by the university. We took one of those silly personality tests, and I was quite skeptical in the beginning, but it turned out to be a really useful tool to show important aspects of what I am good at doing, and how I function when I work. I hope the course will help me to better understand my needs as a project maker, and to bring me closer to ideas and decisions for the future, including the life of Sensescapes.

Before that I was at a workshop about supervising in the master thesis process. During the workshop we were given the task to walk around and tell each other about our dreams for our thesis. A powerful action. Often when I speak with other master students we’re too good at telling each other how difficult this and that is. It is hard to work alone. I don’t know what to write about. I can’t find my discipline. I am stressed by the burden of the reading material. I don’t know what I am doing. And so on.

Hey. Let’s start telling each other about our dreams and wishes instead of staring at the difficulties!

These are my dreams:

I dream of a successful production.
I wish that someone will be touched.
I wish to learn something.
I wish to be shaken.

And I wish for peace in the process.

Right there. Back on track.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a speach for positive psychology. It is a speach for the act of sharing honestly and curiously what lies beyond the surface.

This morning was hard. It seemed like it would never end, like I was lost in my own negative thoughts, staring at them, exactly like that. I had to speak out loud, tell my body to behave, to get up, to accomplish something. I didn’t help much. Then I went to the workshop and told a woman about my dreams. She became touched. She touched me back and her words stirred something fragile and strong within, and THEN the negativity ended. Instead: energy.

Tomorrow I will meet my supervisor for the second time and I will have to show him some VERY unfinished writings. The perfectionist in me hate that. But I am fighting her. I am fighting her hard.

I have decided the time for the sensorial walks in April. Can’t wait to be out there. Investigating. Playing. Being in the presence of the various landscapes.

See you.

Categories: Dreams, Feedback, Motivation, Process, Thesis experiment, Workshop | Leave a comment

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