Documentary: Embodied Cognition Practices for Performers as Researchers (Spanish subtitles)

Documentary:  Embodied Cognition Practices for Performers as Researchers (Spanish subtitles)



the legacy of humanity that has allowed human beings to understand themselves through the observation of their own personal stories emotions fears and deepest desires both theater as well as stands as an ancient lineage that can be traced back to the beginnings of every tribal community and civilization the path of the physical actor consists in practices and trainings which open doors to self-knowledge creativity orderly and vocal abilities and to the exploration of his own imagination and service of creating new interpretations of reality and also options of new realities we can understand the path of the physical actor as the art of experientially knowing the human phenomenon I am a choreographer a dancer I could also define myself as a mover I be working also as a theater director and I've been teaching movement to actors and dancers and people from different sources of life the an active presence lab has been introducing and researching different practices that are giving to both actors and non-actors researchers bring the possibility to really embody those principles those understandings and using our body mind set into a whole different perspective hmm in that way we are in reaching also the whole field of acting and we are putting actors as our researchers not necessarily in order to create performances but more to become themselves researchers interdisciplinary researchers that can collaborate also in different works of investigation with other fields of knowledge this video is not about the art of physical theater itself but about embodied cognition and the importance of developing practical methodologies for the education of actors and dancers as future researchers what is embodied cognition cognition as a faculty possessed by all living organisms through their physical structure with which we know reality its environment and the different types of interaction that we generate therefore embodied cognition is something there is always happening in us as living beings that possesses a body it is important to understand that cognition is not just something that happens to living beings like humans as if cognition were the apex of knowledge of the human being where is something that we share with all living beings cognition according to matter ohne ende Varela is the activity that involves the self generation and self perpetuation of living systems in other words cognition is the very process of life so when we begin to move our body in multiple ways it enhances the ability to know ourselves in the dynamic interaction with our environment as cognitive entities incarnated in the body that process opens up the possibility to much greater and more diverse experiential range being also rich and possibility to dynamic interactions and creativity that is why embodied cognition is something that involves us deeply because we are made of cognition and we are designed to know we are made to know yeah well I have the the the luck to be in the University of Chile in the laboratory which is a kind of a de Santiago a school of cognition isn't a name that some people call it English Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela founded a way of thinking about living thing about living organization the autopoietic concept and from this starting point there is a many ways to look for searching how to understand the life in all the aspects the animal life and the human life and I started to think that cognition is like it's like a filter it's like is how the perception that we as living beings are put some kind of parameters to understand what is happening in the way that we find stimulus from the environment and how this stimulus start to have sense in in our lives is a filter that in some way serve to us to minimize the cause of the world so it's a filter which consists in the different patterns that our brain used to minimize the unpredictability because in we have flux of energy that comes from our senses you know vibrations electromagnetic vibration in many ways but this electromagnetic we interpret in some way which is the different way that they had interpreted the same electromagnetic waves or a dog but there are some patterns that are common to different species and didn't this make us the difference in which a cutter see the world a vat see the words or humans see the words we can we need to find the answer in our own experience and that is because its importance to connect with our body because we feel experience with our body if this is our is the mind in our body that defines the way that we see the world let us take a look at the title of this practice based research called an active presence lab in order to get closer to the meaning of the word in active let us shortly meet the Chilean neurobiologist Francisco Varela one of the main thinkers of modern cognitive science this is a great interview from 1983 where Varela was already very clear and intuitive about his epistemic turns for an animal for a living being to have a world it's something that he actually shapes and creates over evolution and in its own history it is not something that is given so these two questions are are fundamental and unique to living beings in that sense biology holds the key to the understanding of cognition of completely convinced of that and I think that if the field is slowly slowly recognizing that an example you have just to look at the nutrients invent in the engineering-oriented artificial intelligence to realize that many people are beginning to turn around to say hmm interesting what we thought it was the hardest is in fact the simplest and vice versa when we thought it was the simplest is the hardest what is the simplest for example is the fact that you can have a little tiny insect that flies around the room without bumping onto a wall tiny little thing there's no human device that can do that and people in artificial intelligence are beginning to say this very simple living things can do something that it is so profound that that's where we have to look to understand what is truly intelligence while in the early 60s the idea was that true intelligence was proving theorems and doing deductions so all the effort went into building a machine that was like a gigantic reasoner again with the notion rationalistic tradition that mind is logic its deduction is inference it's mostly about logical rules in fact to me and I think again this is beginning to be appreciated even by the engineers mind and cognition is fundamentally about being embodied into actions in the world very simple sensory motor tasks absolutely key an active presence lab research within this research the word presence is understood as one of the main foundations of the art of physical theatre presence is composed of the word present and essence in other words the art of being present while preserving the essence an active comes from the word an action proposed by Francisco Varela for cognitive sciences that could be defined as Co emerging representation our knowledge is neither simple perception of an objective reality out there nor a processing of information captured by our sensory windows but rather process that is built from our sensory motor body experience embodied cognition allows an important epistemological turn regarding the essential question how do we know the proposal for the research of the in active presence lab is to establish basis and concrete practices to situate actors and dancers as researchers through updated and innovative ways of generating reflexive theory based on experience the in active presence lab dialogues with other sources of knowledge such as applied neurosciences transpersonal psychology sports sciences and contemplative studies among others to put the exa dancer as a future researcher and generator of knowledge based on first-person experience and on the understanding of interaction with other sources of knowledge the main three pillars of connective presence lab our movement practices alone with partners and in groups always with the focus of activating the intrinsic intelligence of the performance body a more primal body then breathing practices and meditation from yogic pranayama Tibetan salong breathing principles to more modern breathing and visualization techniques for lead sports and finally the primordial phase a unique practice that reconfigure eights the face of the performer or researcher in order to experience an amplified perceptual mode of exploration for that Elias Cohen explored diverse psychophysical practices designed by himself throughout his career of 20 years as a physical theater director movement teacher and researcher with different groups of theatre and dance students as well as professionals the Cole researcher is Adnan Diaz a neurobiologist that collaborates in the same laboratory in Chile where Francisco Varela developed part of his work the research was supported by data that emerged from the performing practices through EEG technology that can measure brain activity such as brain waves to transpose the results of the subjective experiences of the performers into quantitative measurements a brief summary there five main brainwaves Gama appears and heightened perception learning problem-solving tasks better associated with alert an active thinking alpha when we are physically and mentally relaxed and soft meditations and being creative data associated with creativity inside dreams and deep meditation and Delta the slowest of all brain waves strongest when we are enjoying restorative sleep in a dreamless States this kind of data is relevant and necessary within a project involving artistic and scenic practices as research as the scientific and quantifiable aspects allow us to increase that I mention of information and interpretations of the experience that usually have a high amount of intersubjectivity the EEG system was operated via emotive epic technology which is a wireless helmet that permits to see the brain functioning while performing any activity in real time by sending signals to program decoding them into EEG by using this device specifically made for neuro scientific research it is possible to trace and see which areas of the brain get more activated than others while performing different tasks it can register the intensity of emotional emergence extent of muscular tension extend of interest while doing an action and the interconnection between brain hemispheres the participants were trained to pay permanent attention to their objective and subjective experiences during the practices objective attention corresponds to physiological perceptions such as state of respiration heart rate sensation and body temperature subjective attention corresponds to the perception of feelings distractions arising thoughts and mental associations during practice main results and conclusions the introduction of contemplative practices such as meditation in its different kinds is essential in order to train the capacity of accurate self attention that enables performers the introspective awareness of mental processes and behaviors while engaging in both passive and active embodied practices normal performers without any contemplative practice showed to be less accurate in the moment of verbalizing the experiences about the objective and subjective attention after any given practice another result of this research showed that different embodied practices generate changes in the perceptual states of the performer modifying the brainwaves during the practices of the in active presence lab 80% of the participants managed to produce alpha waves in a sustained manner alpha waves appear in an optimal state of relaxation allowing focused attention and associative capacity enhancing creativity maintaining that brainwave despite the different intensities of physical work and even in physical interaction with others can be a great contribution of an active presence lab control groups without any body work experience showed to be mainly in better waves during practice with few periods of alpha waves a main idea behind the active presence lab is that physical actors and dancers become researchers an active collaboration within investigations of other sources of knowledge such as psychology biology physics mathematics or social sciences to just name a few the embodied practices from an active presence lab were concretely tested in collaboration with several different research projects one of them coming from astronomy let us meet with Sebastian Paris and onion Micawber speaking about the experiences with embodied learning practices within their own researchers and the future of embodied learning in the ademma chol context so my name is Raskin Paris I'm an astrophysicist currently professor in astrophysics working on the problem of how planets are formed that's my my line of research so the grasp a CL is embodied learning experiences to learn the fundamental laws and the basics of astrophysics so learn the building ball the building blocks of our theories what's our position in the galaxy how things move what's conserved in the dynamics of the universe what is already quantities energy angular momentum mass what are these things there are conserved in the and then what are the forces that are involved in the interactions like mainly gravity so after you acquire this in an intuition for those fundamental laws for for those building blocks of our theories you can apply it to a more difficult astronomical problem that's the physical problem that's what we did with this group of professional dancers and movers and move movement artists we acquire an intuition for the angular momentum conservation for the energy conservation for what gravity is and then we proposed one of the astrophysics problems that we have today that we haven't been able to solve how our planets formed so we asked these groups of answers to improvise because that's what scientists are doing at the same time we are trying to improvise add terms to the equations remove some other terms play with simulations and see what happens do more observations gather more data play with it and that we find an ingredient that allows us to understand how planets form so they knew the movers started moving across this studio and that was the instruction that was the narrative we want to form a planet you are all articles planetesimals in this protoplanetary disk you have to orbit the star you have to continuously with a lot of energy and you have to manage to create this more well-defined structure during the lifetime of the of the protoplanetary disk and a lot of interesting structures started emerging the movers were just using their intuition as bodies as planetesimals as building blocks for a planet and at some point I noticed that one of the movers started walking on four legs like it kind of slow down a little bit and started working with four legs and the others started climbing on top so that mover was kind of sacrificing himself for others to piggyback or ride along with him and that's exactly one of the ideas that we have people doing involved in learning people using these tools to teach and allow for their students to acquire intuition rather than rather than a very specific symbolic knowledge it's something that it's happening there are more every day there are more people doing this it's hard because you want to keep the depth and the rigor of the of the knowledge but it's perfectly doable it's actually quite powerful my name is anya mccullough currently finishing up my doctorate at Harvard in history of logic and math and weaving it together with contemporary narratives and embodiment and apart from that I'm also composer and a dancer I'm also just finishing some art science projects so I think the best way I've come to understand what embodied learning is what embodied learning could be it's a way of improvising first first and foremost understood as what is improvisation understood as putting kind of well-defined constraints on something constraints that must necessarily have your body in it so not constraints that are abstract but constraints that also take into account where your body is situated within those constraints and then exercising freedom exercising a way of being free and then those constraints they can shift they can move they can be dynamic but for some point of time they have to be well defined then the act of freedom necessarily involves your body one can't be free without their body right a very important aspect and result of this practice based research was the introduction of the primordial phase practice inside the in active presence lab it showed to be one of the most relevant factors and the experience of many of the performance what is the practice of the primordial phase the primordial phase is the possibility of letting all the muscles of your face drop when you drop all the muscles of your face or the configuration of let us say your social phase we give less stimulus to the brain and we let the neocortex somehow get little bit we could say block so this kind of sequential rational development of our mind in order to understand in a logical way stops and we create the capacity or establish the possibility of connecting with a more holistic perceptual capacity of interacting with the reality you just relax the face you drop little bit the eyes you let the eyes be and focus and even you can turn your eyes to the inside letting your white eyes but in the moment you do that your brain is no longer spending energy in trying to create a configuration of what is going on from the outside usually what the brain will do is trine in a normal way of perceiving your brain will try to complete the information of the oldest stimulus of your senses of what you are seeing what you're hearing the whole face has a configuration in order to do that but when you drop that configuration the brain enters in a completely different mode this mode is important because it brings you the possibility of perceiving or being yourself in a different perceptual mode and within other perceptual mode you can also register a different experiences so where you can create a complimentary story about a certain experience it has been really enriching for people to practice different ways of movement or researching or ideas through the primordial face possibility that's why we encourage you through the practice a large percentage of the performers managed to quickly activate theta waves these are brain waves occur most often when sleeping but are also dominant in deep meditation theta is a gateway to learning memory and intuition and theta our senses are withdrawn from the external world and focused on signals originated from within and theta we are in a dream vivid imagery intuition and information beyond our normal conscious awareness we consider that the practice of the primordial phase can be a powerful tool at the moment of letting emerge intuitive knowledge within research processes to train embodied researchers who can sustain and produce both alpha and theta waves while exploring different inputs can be of great interest for any given practice based research undoubtedly more exploration and quantifiable research should be conducted regarding this practice so far cognitive sciences and the promising emerging field of studies called contemplative Sciences have carried out fantastic and in-depth studies based mainly on contemplative practices and first-person in recent years a large number of theoretical investigations on the phenomenon of embodied cognition and the perspective of an action proposed by Varela have had a great development in the academic environment unfortunately during this research few practical and embodied approaches were found in the academia on the phenomenon of an action that have scientific measurements on the human interaction with other humans and other environments within a dynamic process and not only through static measurements of contemplative practices this research proposes through the in active presence lab the physical actor not only as a performance maker but also as a promising practical embodied researcher with solid tools of exploration on the integrity of possibilities within the field of embodied cognition in collaboration with other disciplines of knowledge

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