INVESTIGATING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CITY (EXTERNAL) & BODY (INTERNAL)
LIVABLE BODY LIVABLE CITY
This project was installed for 3 days as part of the 2016 Market Street Prototyping Festival. Many of us move through the city unconcerned with how it’s organization guides us; likewise many of us live ‘in’ our bodies unaware of how our own internal organization guides us. Realizing that we can affect real changes in both is a first step. Examining the two in relationship—internal environment & external environment—sheds light on how they co-create each other, & how we might better embody both ourselves & the city to create more livable bodies, more livable cities.
A USEFUL PUBLIC SPACE
Our site was on a wide stretch of sidewalk on Market St. @ 6th, an area where many different lives intersect. First & foremost, we wanted to create a space that can be used, whether it’s engaged with simply by glancing at it while walking by, as a place to stop for a chat, or by participating in one of its many activities. It’s pretty simple for us, as every one walking down Market Street is embodied, everyone is capable of being surprised & delighted by experiencing something physical they’ve never done before. When we create an embodied public space, that space is transformed into one that supports the engagement of a group of people–no matter their background, ethnicity, race, etc. How? Livable Body Livable City encourages direct experiences of embodiment—by feeling our stability, resting & widening our view, moving more fluidly—that shift our perception. What’s super exciting about shifting perceptions in public is that we can vitalize public space by vitalizing ourselves and what we notice.
Planter Box Posture Activity
Someone you love is walking toward you from a block away. You can’t see their face but you immediately recognize their ‘movement signature’. How we stand feels so inherently normal to each of us that even when we change our position—when we dance or sit with a friend—we usually remain in our structural patterns. By momentarily creating imbalance, we wake up to both our habits & new options. This activity offers a fun & challenging way to ‘taste’ a very different posture, one where the pelvis is upright in relationship to gravity. We set this up so two people could stand facing each other, interacting while feeling something very new. How do we usually ‘hold or carry’ ourselves? How does that affect how we orient in space? To the street? To each other?
"Legs Up the Wall" & 'We have Your back!"
Imagine: I was just walking quickly down Market Street, now I am resting, looking at the expansiveness of the sky with my back supported, my legs leaning up a wall…Physiologically, positioning our legs above our hearts has multiple benefits: it balances our nervous systems, drains lymph & changes the relationship of our organs to gravity. Equally important, as our visual field relaxes & expands, so too does our body. This structure encourages this kind of ‘being’ on Market St. The other side of the structure invites people to step up higher than normal to rest their backs against a leaning wall. Changing what movements & body positions we see & make while in public is a way of changing our center of gravity & comprehending our surroundings in a new light—physically, socially, politically…
Scales -- Center of Gravity & Interoception
This activity demonstrates how our center of gravity shifts with every movement we make. This is because everything inside of us is connected to everything else. And…our bones do not hold us up! Like the poles in a tent, it is the tension on the strings that hold the tent in its shape, not a stacking of the poles. When we shift our weight (in a multitude of ways) we redistribute tension. It’s not about ‘stacking’ our bones on top of one another, nor is it about affecting any particular external shape. It’s about moving in ways that create sensations of balance and spaciousness. People are asked to step each foot on a separate scale. Is the weight evenly distributed? Does it change by making a movement with just one toe? Play is encouraged as you gather surprising information about yourself, your habits and the effects of your movements.
We are amazingly delighted to have Mary Bond, author of the New Rules of Posture, contribute passages from her latest forthcoming book on topics like: Fascia & Tensegrity, Proprioception & Interoception, & Posture. We believe that imbuing new & well considered concepts about the body encourage deeper embodiment & more creative movement. More to come!
A truism is a claim that is so obvious or self-evident as to be hardly worth mentioning. In comparing the existing wealth of knowledge about the body/brain and movement to what is generally believed, practiced & perpetuated, these statements act both as mirrors & provocative invitations to examine our individual & collective attitudes about body, movement & its relevance to all we do. Inspired by the work of Jenny Holzer, the ones that we have written & collected here will reflect a variety of sources, opinions & backgrounds. These are placed standing upright throughout the space, so that people have to physically move through them. The truisms lend a greater context to the intersection of body literacy & public space.
take our body literacy survey!
Share your experience
‘Literacy’ is a term being used more & more in the somatic world. ‘Where are’ we when it comes to our own knowledge & experience of how our embodiment informs our choices & beliefs? How does that relate to public space? Your individual responses could be incorporated into Livable Body Livable City!
Interested in participating?
Interested in helping? The festival happens October 6-8th. We’re looking for people to help in all sorts of ways. We’d love to hear from you if you you’d like to get involved or put us in touch with those you’d think would be interested!