Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Thinking touch, thinking haptic

Week 14 Phase 2 May 22nd 2018

Thinking touch, thinking haptic

My observation today reminds me of the significance of touch in childhood.  From our immediate entry into the world from our mothers womb we are greeted by what Obstetriaian Fredrick Leboyer call "loving hands".  The first connection and contact we have is an embodied, corporeal experience. These "loving hands" continue to be a vital source of our growth and development.  The affective capacities of touch has been extensively researched by Tiffany Field among others, and show huge benefit to wellbeing in humans. Through infant massage the infant benefits by way of boosting the infants immune system, promoting a good sleep pattern, relieving colic, supporting muscle tone, skin tone, and premature infants gain weight more quickly (in SCBU).

With this in mind, as I observe the intricate finger movements and hand strokes (swirling, curling, twirling, tapping, threading, pulling and plucking and picking) the children make across Dave's fur and body (much to his sheer delight) I ponder what embodied memories they may be re-working and re-enacting.  The caressing of mothers breast when taking in nourishment (physical and biological), the twirling of her hair during snuggles together, the reassuring feel of a fathers hand, or the feel of a favourite comforter such as a snookie blanket or teddy bear.  Such sensory memories awakened and revitalised through the fur coat and warmth of a classroom dog.

This also links with philosopher Haraway and the curious question she asks "what do I touch when I touch my dog?"

We communicate so much through touch. It can be more powerful than words. It overcomes language barriers. It is indeed a force of nature. 

Monday, 23 October 2017

Attunement and assemblages

Fieldwork observations (10th and 19th October) 5 and 6 /phase 2
My etudes depict the nature of materialisation of affect through images of thought and non conscious cognition (Hayles, 2017). In using my sketches I display a non- representational narrative account of the child- canine encounter adhering to a Deluzian paradigm to portray affect as a rhythmic, sonerous assemblage of movements which radiate into an affective atmosphere as affective capacities are felt between bodies both human and non- human.

Etude 5, 6 and 7: The children's stroking of Dave's fur is rhythmical and finger tips are moved up and down on Dave's body in a similar action to playing the keys on a piano.  Children are also using tapping motions on Dave's hind quarters as if they are playing drums. Dave seems to be an instrument in which the musicality of communication is literal and affective. This adds to as sonerous, affective space which transforms the atmosphere.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

A parliament of lines: the sociality of touch.

Fieldwork observation 10th October, 2017 (observation 4, phase 2) revisits my fascination with anthropologist Tim Ingold's 'Parliament of lines'.  I can see through my sketching, how I have become perceptive to the children coming together, not just to to stroke Dave (usually in small groups of 3-4 children at a time)  but to create lines of connectivity through the sociality of touch (Htu, 2014). Or as one child said, 'Dave's creation of pathways' of connection. This in turn enables a meshwork of movement and growth, temporal 'lines of becoming'.  Rather like a rich tapestry, lines of cotton are made and joined together forming a picture or portraiture of the moment I am drawing, yet if we look closely at the process, turn the tapestry over, we see many loose threads, intricately woven that do not appear to fit together.  Meshwork is then rather different from a network. Human and non-human relationships are tangled and enmeshed.  The wonderful beauty of such communication can be its musicality and rhythm. The children rarely talk during these moments as they are not only sensually experiencing (Dave's silky fur lines and contours) but engaging active and passive intent as the same time.  In observing and drawing this I too am telling their story - not with words - but through the use of my pencil becoming like a musical instrument that draws the line that "tells" (Causey, 2017).  This is far greater in showing the transmission of affect, as drawing helps me understand and see the essence of experience in the encounter between Dave and the children, perceiving it differently.

In order to consider movement, rhythm and meshwork, I need to enact it through my drawing, my own encounters with Dave, and giving him a belly rub are part of my participant-observation and how my seeing-drawing is from my own "body memory" too. In this I am entering a culture, through ways that fit the particular social identity, as it is within the social environment of the classroom.  I am carefully perceiving and moving, acting and copying the children's everyday performances as a way to 'fit in'.  This language of communication would be invisible as 'written word' and by making the invisible visible, deeper understanding of the social phenomenon can be shown.

Etude 4: Dave and the children creating lines and "pathways" of connectivity and musicality and rhythm of communication through movement and sensory experience:  
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Sunday, 1 October 2017

Drawing out the lines of the event

My fieldwork observations from Tuesday 26th September (Obs 3 phase 2) encapsulate the ideas of Derek McCormack, (2004) and how various movement practices and participation can be translated into the provision of a space(s) . By remapping the children's movements during a Spanish lesson it gives me a hook into the potentiality of these spaces in becoming fluctuated between 'smooth' and 'striated' (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987). This can afford childrens agency, enabling something abstract to become quite real. The regulated/striated space becoming a liberated space of 'becoming'. The line can be something corporeal, with its contours moving and meandering (Dave's "lines of fligh") into unfamiliar territory. McCormack says that these are lines 'that go for a walk, lines of orientation'.  This is an apt description of Dave and the children as they come together in the encounter, the event of rhythmic stroking, the children's hand movements tracing the contours of his body and fur, encompassing pathways of  'movement vocabulary' in a space of shared embodied emotion. This assemblage becomes a "kinesphere" and lines of intersection which create sonorous rhythm. These qualities afford connective entanglements that have affective properties such as the creation of a space to 'be' or 'attune'.

The presence of moving bodies (such as Dave the classroom dog) affords physical transformation of the space but he also alters the affective, sonic, imaginative and social qualities of this space. Another way of thinking about how bodies (human and non-human) move between spaces is by considering the rhythmic relations between bodies and spaces; Lefebvre (1991) on "rhythmanalysis" states this is a technique for creative engagement with and through the sensory experiences of everyday life. These sensory experiences become affective energies that infuse the classroom atmosphere, perhaps transforming feelings and non-conscious processes.

Drawing out the lines of the event is remapped below:

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The rhythm of stroking movements: embodied emotion

My etudes today reveal the rhythm of stroking observed when children touch their classroom dog 'Dave' during carpet time. These moments appear to afford the children a space to feel calm, relaxed and perhaps de-territorialised within the structures of the environment.
During a lesson Dave joins the children and sits alongside them. His close proximity on the carpet once again seems to afford the children a space to connect,  transforming their sense of place to feel "like home".
Poppy tells her classmate Dave is "like her brother". Dave is invited to share her space and sit in her chair. Dave's non-human charisma means he is getting to know his new classmates very well, very quickly.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

The curious incident of the squeaky ball

Today my etudes are ones that depict curiosity and playfulness and 'Dave' mirrors the children's behaviours in class

Friday, 7 July 2017

Visual Ethnography

Drawn to see - the Causey way

Using drawings as an ethnographic method has become fundamental to my rhizome research.  This helps support my researcher participant-observer position in addition to elucidating my own embodied experience of the social phenomenon under study (child-dog interactions within a classroom).  I call these 'etudes'  a term coined by Andrew Causey in his illuminating account of how to be an authentic ethnographer in the field . By using etudes each week they help make connections with concepts and ideas related to my theoretical framework, viewing the world through a post-structuralist, post-human and new materialism lens. They also move beyond text and convey meaning to depict the aesthetic and sensory nature of the relationship between the children and their classroom dog  'Dave'. This can often be lost and conveyed differently through text.  My first etude below resonated with Deleuze and Guattari's notion of symbiosis and how the orchid and wasp co-produce one another through pollination and nectar creation.  This is akin to Barad's idea of intra-action, (as opposed to inter-action) and agenital realism.  As the children and classroom dog 'Dave' intra-act they each are transformed by the encounter to become agenic in different ways. As agency can be a tricky concept, these agenic 'cuts' can be subtle and oblique. The child may feel more able to manage their work tasks and ' Dave' may gain a sense of nurturance. The multiplicity of the encounter can be profound.
Etude 1. Orchid and Wasp