Embodied Cognition at the Crossroads of
Philosophy, Linguistics, Psychology and Artificial Intelligence

May 13-15, 2021, Cluj-Napoca, ROMANIA

Section 11A


11A: Performance studies in arts, sports and other areas



Saturday 15/5, 17:00-18:20



Antonio Ianniello

Affiliation: La Sapienza University of Rome
Title: Enactivism and performance art: putting on display our perception
Abstract: I propose to consider the performing arts as a model for the analysis of human perceptual processes. Seeing, according to the enactive approach, is not something that happens inside our brain, rather it is something we do. Seeing rests on the background of our abilities and knowledge is conditioned by our environment and social context; in this sense, it is much more similar to climbing a tree or reading a book than to a digestive process (Noë 2009). External objects are not exclusively stimuli that trigger internal events affecting the nervous system; rather, they constitute opportunities or 'affordances' (Gibson 1979) for our dynamic 'transactions' with them. The world, then, does not manifest itself to us as an image in the head but as a playground for our activity. Here, we do not mean the activity of the brain but the activity of an 'embodied mind' that involves the whole of animal life. The brain obviously plays an important but not exclusive role in this dynamic and distributed relationship involving the eye-brain-head-body-ground-environment system (Gibson 1979). The world does not open up to our observation for free, simply offering itself to our eyes, as in Mach's famous illustration, but presents itself to us only if we actively bring skills and competencies into play. The performing arts, with their characteristics - transformation of performer and audience, co-presence, co-agency, autopoietic feedback loop, spectator/performer exchange, the oscillation of the dichotomous subject-object/body-mind pairs (Erika Fischer-Lichte) - constitute a model through which to investigate the nature of our perception. The performance offers an opportunity to grasp ourselves in the act of accessing the world. In live works presented by artists like Tino Sehgal, Anne Imhof, Maria Hassabi the audience is called to move around the room, to define the object of their vision, to physically engage with other people, to set up a relation and a conversation. What we see and experience, what we get, is an achievement that allows us to come into contact with reality. To go from not seeing to seeing – or from seeing to see differently – we are forced to act, to cooperate, to change our proprioceptive patterns and sensorimotor models, to negotiate and to establish the object of our attention, to drop our familiar frameworks. What is present is up to us: what I can do, What I know, what I’m ready to do. The performance put on display (Noe 2015) that the possibility of grasping aspects of reality is not only linked to the affectation of sensory receptors but is determined by a multitude of factors, thus giving us a complex image of our existence.


Klara Łucznik

Affiliation: University of Plymouth
Title: Creative flow in dance improvisation
Abstract: Dancers frequently associate high-quality performance with ‘being in the flow’ state. This state characterises deep involvement, energized focus, and success in the process of doing things, especially creative tasks. Further, group flow was connected to the peak experience when a group is performing at its highest level of abilities and reaches a collective state of mind. This research examined the role of group flow in creative practice of dance improvisation. We observed the dynamics of group flow in dance by adapting a video-cued recall tool that captures the temporal patterns of flow experience and narratives of conscious thinkings in group interaction from an individual perspective. The first study explored the occurrence of flow and its shared character within group improvisation (n=16, 4 groups of four dancers). It showed that group flow was rather rare and it was more likely when a group had worked together for longer. In their narratives, dancers reported that a group in a high-flow state engaged with a task in a more complex way, sharing, transforming and supporting each other’s ideas, while low-flow groups worked more with mimicry and bodily manipulation. The second study explored the relationship between dancers’ flow experience and creative outcomes. A total of 203 participants (77 experts and 126 nonexperts) rated excerpts of high- and low-flow dance improvisation (five each) using consensual assessment technique. Experts judged high-flow collaborations as more creative, and more coherent, technically advanced, aesthetically appealing and meaningful, however there were no significant differences in nonexperts’ ratings. Overall, it was confirmed that flow is a highly creative state for dancers, in which they performed better. The presence of others and quality of group collaboration supports the occurrence and amount of flow. However, group flow occurred rarely and was more likely when a group had worked together for longer.


Maria Gargoles

Affiliation: Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Title: Performativity in the embodied experience with virtual reality
Abstract: The perception of our environment can be modified by artistic practice and virtual reality. Thus, creating a multiplicity of subjectivities. Embodied cognition in the immersive environment creates new spaces of knowledge through body interaction. This affects the body’s connections and the relationship with the environment. The main objective of this research is to show different approaches and factors that have modified the perception of the avatar itself and the environment. The individual and subjective experience is augmented by the embodiment of an avatar. Therefore, from art and artistic creation, it is possible to generate new subjectivities, bodily connections and mental virtualities. For the analysis of the avatar I use my own expertise in creating environments and experience with other artworks. I use a methodology based on artistic practice and active participation. Spatial-temporal connections are made through the hand and the haptic control that represents them in the virtual environment. The hand is an extension of our body that connects us with these elements. In moments of connection, our body has vibro-tactile sensations that connect with such element. There is a sensory increase that perceptually draws our attention. The virtual environment or bubble vision has other norms and compositions not commonly perceived. These can alter the perception. We can only observe a small part of the virtual space and this part lacks a stable and fixed floor on which the heaviness of the virtual body rests. This produces instability, placing the body in a temporary weightlessness both during and after the virtual experience. The virtual avatar can be either invisible or constructed by polygonizations, creating a representation that does not match our appearance. In any case, an individual atmosphere of virtual interaction and connection is created. The virtual body connects with our body movements, but also with the mental guidelines of movement. The avatar is not only the reflection of the self, but also the reflections of other users. In the virtual world, the physical body is affected by mental virtuality and sensory perceptions that modify the own perception. Our mental guidelines and movements connect us experientially with the virtual environment and its properties.


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