The Skin in the Air... Somatic Coalescence
SKIN IN THE AIR … a project of SOMATIC COALESCENCE
Coalescence is the property of things to unite or merge. It refers to when various “materials” come together in one body. It is a concept that comes from physics and chemistry but anthropologists like Tim Ingold also use it in relation to people when they are immersed in a common environmental, ecological event.
Somatics refers to perceiving yourself in the first person as an embodied being, to perceiving yourself in action attending to how we do what we do. But this perception is inseparable from the environment and from other bodies to which we are linked. It is an internal point of view that requires the bond with other organisms – we could say embodied bond following Judith Butler – and the supportive environment – organic or inorganic material bond – to obtain information and cognitive material. Through the somatic there is an empathetic approach to the structure of the living of all times … you deepen your living structure and you understand…
Somatic coalescence would be that possibility of being the body of others. If the immersion in events produces this merging between organisms, the somatic variant also includes performativity, and if it extends to other organisms that only observe, we could say that it is through a meta-kinaesthesia effect that would put empathy and motor imagery of our bodies in action. But in somatic coalescence the bodies perform together. The tool is the ritual. Although it can be extended to observers and recipients of the action and this may be a long-distance geographic effect, the effects of greatest intensity are those of strengthening local networks and ecosystems. Only when performing together in another location does an effect of equal intensity occur.
Somatic coalescence makes multiple bodies act as one… and that one assumes multiplicity as its main characteristic… we speak of a single multiple body while the phase or state of coalescence lasts… but when the union falls apart- the links are dynamic- each body It preserves that somatic network consciousness… an awareness of greater resilience and social capital… an awareness of being part of an immersive political current. During somatic coalescence the relationships between organisms are horizontal, power is atmospheric and embodied in a single multiple body.
Two examples of this embodied coalescence: the first, a few months ago when Chilean women sang and performed together “A rapist on your way.” The second in full swing these days. Every night the people confined to their homes by the coronavirus crisis, go out on their balconies and applaud and shout to thank the health workers, and other groups of workers who support us these days, for their constant action. Word, movement, listening … attention becomes solidary, I attend to what you attend … the attention is the one of a single huge emotive body in the face of a common crisis.
Somatic coalescence opens windows of possibility, breaking habits and generating transformative rituals.
Somatic coalescence proposes a concrete architectural attitude. If we take the new materialism –monistic- point of view, our constructions can also be constituted as infrastructures of somatic coalescence. According to its materiality (it is also made up of living organisms), its transformability / adaptability (it changes over time, it is born and it dies) and its performative capacity in synergy (coalescence) with the bodies that inhabit it – they are made at the same time, They are.
It generates common rituals for various organisms and materialities (incarnate bond and material bond), some bodies assume the way of behaviour of others (eg. facades that behave like the tissue of the petals in a flower), but also some bodies (and obviously I speak here of human and non-human bodies) assume affections and political relations of the others. This architecture shares a political, conceptual, emotional, semantic, physiological body with the organisms that make it up. This architecture is not inhabited, it is made, it is performed. Living organisms and materials are in somatic coalescence forming a single body and also facing crises, together, creating resilience.
An example of this we see in our READY-MADE prototypes (# 1, # 2 and # 3), where the different parts – living or not – mutually constitute each other according to a single body that we emphasize as architectural using subtle manipulations.
We also see it in the systems of the project “THE SKIN IN THE AIR”, where the flowers, the meteorology or the bodies are not in the architecture, they do not inhabit it, THEY are that architecture … or in other words, multiple bodies become an architectural body, in somatic coalescence. Technical systems emerge from their policies, their physiologies, their anatomies, or their chemistries. The skin of a living being, when it becomes architecture in somatic coalescence, diversifies into layers and tissues that perform according to a common ritual.
One of the most interesting somatic lessons* to experience is the so-called “Molding the skin behind the Body” in it, gradually, following a ritual action of little by little putting on a second skin, as if it were an apron that is tied in different areas, we have the experience of seeing ourselves in relation to another skin that is not ours. That skin can adopt the characteristics of a political, vital, emotional, or anatomical body in between others. This will depend on our body image that feeds on the aforementioned embodied bond … in this way, this can create a beautiful consequence of somatic coalescence, of empowerment by having a fusion with that other materiality that becomes support or protection, or on the contrary, it can generate the opposite effect of oppression and imposition from outside, of a huge weight to be carried. The somatic architecture of “The Skin in the Air” wants to promote the first type of experience; it wants to abandon fixed imposition. Somatic architecture becomes with materials and bodies of the different organisms.**
March 15th, 2020, Madrid.
* “Molding the Skin behind the Body” is an ATM (Awareness Through Movement) lesson of the Feldenkrais method of somatic education. This method is the one that has been used as a research tool through performance when doing this project. The lesson is numbered AY # 167.
**Materials: Wood, bio-leather, water, bio-plastic, air, wax, cork, pollinator’s plants, insects… bodies, sun, earth…
Author: María Auxiliadora Gálvez
Status: On going project.