Inward Facing - Somatic Mapping

Body Map Norma.jpg

As part of considering the landscape of the body and relationality, I offered an exploratory body mapping workshop. I see this as a continuation of understanding and making connections between my practice and the geographer's fieldwork techniques I experienced at Blencathra

I was  joined by members of GGDC, Dr Matt Jenkins ,  Prof Trish Winter and visual artist Lesley Hicks.

Language matters and there are particular words or phrases that I keep coming back to which invite my curiosity and playfulness. Words that speak to movers and geographers alike.

Core  Centre  Globe  Atlas   Space  Axis  Meander  Ground  Map  Story  Embody

During the field trip to Blencathra I was struck by the importance given to looking at shape, contours, patterns, rises and falls. These observations and measurements became the means by which the students and staff gave context, theorised (told stories) about how the place we were in was as it was....and is as it is....NOW. A story perhaps  of the playing out of time and space and forces. So why not get curious about our sense of inner the business of standing up....of being a biped, bears witness to our daily play with time and space and weighty, pressing matters like gravity!

How does the body feel, what is our sense of our body space and how might the cartography of the body  look? What are its contours, layers, measurements, networks, pathways, routes and poles? If all maps are associative then how might we represent the felt sense of this everyday land we dwell in. What is it like to come down to earth...?

Wherever you go, there you are

The first few days of my Leverhulme residency were spent looking at the photographs and text on the stairs and in the foyer area of the Daysh building. Very simply I wanted to get a sense of what is the message of geography, what is communicated  as people such as me trot up and down and in and out of the building?

What is the impression of geography, because first impressions (that pressing inward) count.

My notebook says:

"Here be geographers, standing on places , going up or across places, geographers getting hot, cold and windswept, geographers being with other people in places. Geographers pointing, geographers sitting on things alone or with others. Is geography ever about going in, going into self, about inner landscape?"  

Since that time, thanks to all my geography chums and some (admittedly very light) reading on my part I know that there are all kinds of wondrous inner, touchy feely geographies like...

Psycho geography, Necro geography, Emotional geography , Affective geography....really it's like yoga there is a brand of it for everyone!

However despite all our technology we still only have a tiny sense of the everyday territory that we inhabit all day everyday and I still hear the language of divide between our physical selves and our thinking selves.

Most of us pay  close attention to our bodies only when we compete or endure and or encounter pain, disease and change...

In the world of the everyday we tend to be outward facing in oh so many ways, superficial, a show of our surface or topsoil!

So this wonderful reciprocal body story/body map workshop sought to lightly, playfully invite us all to go inwards, toward a sense of a deeper self....of a knowing in your bones,of daring to ask

"Who am I?..Where am I?"  - You know, just light superficial questions !

Is there a philosophy/geography combo? I refuse to search for it  but I  bet my funny bone that there is.

As an improviser and a self appointed somatic geographer I tend to follow my nose, my heart, and my gut instinct to try things out, to better know, to better sense and feel and connect. So I won't be reading any academic papers on the above range of geographies but I will be doing what my teacher of presence taught me which is to "do the do Paula..." and so I am.

So here is a little sharing of some of the doing, the thinking, the expressing, the playing and the not knowing....and for those of you who want to get involved there will be another body map adventure get in touch.

We are mountains of flesh riddled with the caves and fissures of our pores and orifices, like enclosed valleys, we shelter our ancestral cultures and like the open hillsides and plains we team with a microbial bustle of new citizens and migrants. We have become an ecology of earth and air as well as one of water
— Deane Juhan

Feedback from workshop.

The space between action and articulation - how do we describe what we have done today?

How do we enumerate it?

My body is concentrating. It has been intriguing, unusual.

You start noticing in a new way.

We have been supporting and have been supported

I am in the present, the now, creating, doing being.

Ideas are forming and reinventing themselves.

We have told and shared our body stories and listened to the stories of others

We have curated these experiences

As an academic it's good to have this kind of experience, it reminds me of the value of taking time, of paying attention  and of open ended processes.

Photography Iain Garrett - with gratitude



LeverhulmePaula Turner