How can a body be abstracted?

Kirsten Packham


The human body schema is subjugated to utilitarian modes of being and colonised by hegemonistic, culturally limited, body paradigms. Could there be strategies for redesigning the body which do not depend on technological interference? In contrast to a humanist ideal of teleological rationality and perfectibility, and to the transhumanist concern with enhancement through technology, I suggest that the site for the posthuman is the diverse body itself; and that this posthuman body is an ongoing investigation.

Abstract art allows for complexity and pluralism in the body; there is a shift from the body being the subject of the work to the body as a site of sensory experience. Similarly, experimental dance practices promote a somatosensory reorganisation, enabling access to corporeal spaces and ways of inhabiting the body which break with cultural conditioning and preconceived limits of anatomy. These two practices share a heuristic, phenomenological approach that foregrounds a perpetual transforming and kinaesthetically active body in exchange with its surroundings. The borders of the body, and the scale of our relationship to our body, shift.

I propose that a posthumanism which gives attention to the dormant minutiae of the body can give us our bodies back. Through abstraction the ontological space of the body becomes, a kinaesthetic, active site: liminal and unfolding. Instead of a trajectory of progress there is an unearthing of dormant minutiae and a perpetual, delicate dance in a constellation of relations.

Słowa kluczowe: body, abstract art, sculpture, posthumanism, dance, Butoh, Body Weather, space, reflexivity

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