JER 3.2 (1): “Embodiment and Social Distancing: Editorial”
ABSTRACT: We are at a point in history in which bodies are linked in truly unprecedented ways. There are new types of limitations, new opportunities, and also new kinds of violence taking place through these connections. It is a lot to take in and very challenging to grasp as it unfolds. In this editorial video essay, the editors of the Journal of Embodied Research’s special issue on “embodiment and social distancing” introduce the fifteen video essays that follow.
This is an editorial video essay for the Journal of Embodied Research special issue on embodiment and social distancing. We are at a time in history in which bodies are linked together in truly unprecedented ways. There are new types of limitations, new opportunities, and also new kinds of violence that are moving across these links. It’s a lot to take in and it’s very challenging to grasp as it unfolds.
The Journal of Embodied Research is a platform that explores embodied practice as a kind of audiovisual thought; and in which the formal relations between textuality and audiovisuality are explored from the perspective of embodiment.
The four of us are recording this video essay across twelve hours of time zones and we have an exciting collection of fifteen video essays to share with you, created by contributors from twelve countries, involving at least four languages, and very diverse in their approach to form and content.
This format is also a first for the journal. The call for shorter video essays brought an excellent response and we’re looking forward to doing this again as we continue to grow the journal’s community and address other special topics.
Now I will hand over to my colleague Elizabeth de Roza, who will introduce the first composite video article.
JER 3.2 (2): “Embodiment and Social Distancing: Performances”
[Elizabeth de Roza:]
The first video article falls under the theme of “Performance.” There are five video essays and we are brought into the authors’ environments as they reflect and perform their new embodied encounters of what was once familiar, a passing through of a world that was once normal.
The first video essay, by Ellen Kress, entitled “Rest is Resistance: Embodied Reflection of the Retraction Period in Creative Production,” brings us into her domestic space, through which she performs rest as resistance and the need for retraction despite the current climate and capitalism’s need for productivity.
Lasse Mouritzen and Kristine Samson’s “Pandemic Encounters” closes in on how urban lives have changed into sites of strange encounters, needing to navigate proximities and presence.
Josiah Pearsall, “I All Occur Within Arm’s Reach,” examines his embodied position in isolation and being constrained within the frame of his desk and computer.
Shabari Rao, “Nothing to Show,” performs her embodied encounters with her unfamiliar sense of self as her physical environment is severely restricted because of social distancing.
Charlotta Ruth, “What is liveness and what can it be?,” performs a phenomenological happening of an experience when fiction, real-life experience, and the digital perspective collide.
And now I hand over to Nathalie Fari.
JER 3.2 (3): “Embodiment and Social Distancing: Practices”
In the past six months, we have witnessed a global move of embodied practitioners into the digital realm. Often driven by an urge of keeping one’s own practice or training-routine alive, this move has also brought up a series of complex issues and concerns.
In the first video-essay of this composite video-article focused on “Practices,” Raffaele Rufo draws upon the embodied technique of Tango to lead a group dance improvisation practice that investigates how the absence of touch can be enabled through other means, be it an object or another body on the screen.
In Ana Ben-David and Catharine Cary’s essay, the practice of improvisation is explored further, by using both the domestic space and the internet as sources for creating a common performative language.
Alice Owen, Deanna Borland-Sentinella, and Louise Gwenneth Phillips offer in their contribution another insight into the process of touching, especially by highlighting the memory and sensation of touch in a both virtual and physical space.
In my video-essay, I depart from the 5 Rhythms moving meditation practice in order to fathom what it means to access and enhance an individual and collective bodily awareness in a digital environment.
The final video essay, by Amber Ward and Becky Christ, turns the gaze away from an embodied practice, towards the materiality and agency of things. Anchored in an audiovisual language, it plays out different materials, texts and sounds by establishing an open conversation.
To sum up: This composite video-article is exploring the various ways in which an embodied practice has been affected by either the physical absence of other bodies or the restrictions as well as possibilities imposed by the screen.
And now I hand over to Cara Hagan.
JER 3.2 (4): “Embodiment and Social Distancing: Projects”
The offerings in the “Projects” section of this special issue of the Journal of Embodied Research interrogate the trappings of the digital world as experienced by humans as they critique it, create in it, and establish new processes and improvisations for enacting cultural ritual in a time of forced isolation.
This section takes viewers on a journey through the myriad ways videoconferencing taxes the body and mind, in Annie Abrahams and Daniel Pinheiro’s “Why is the use of video-conferencing so exhausting?”; the creation of new collaborative methods in music-making, in Mauricio Carrasco and Daniel Zea’s “Vortex Decameron: Building narratologies in pandemic times”; the presence of liveness in digital space, in Tina La Porta’s “Internet Art at the Turn of the Millennium”; possibilities for engaging groups in generative practice online, in Alicia de Manuel Lozano and David Casacuberta Sevilla’s “La Maldición de la Corona: Revisiting videoconference as a system to foster group creativity”; and audiovisual abstractions and assemblages in melissandre varin’s “Freezing elements of research.”
Taken together, the projects presented in this section of the journal present a course in embodied inter-human innovation that transcends the boundaries of the skin and offers us a roadmap for navigating the unprecedented historical occurrence and outcomes of the global coronavirus pandemic.
We hope you enjoy this special issue of the Journal of Embodied Research. Please check out past issues and stay tuned for subsequent calls and issues.
Journal of Embodied Research 3.2 (2020)
Embodiment and Social Distancing
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