How can a body be abstracted?

Kirsten Packham
2019 Przegląd Kulturoznawczy  
The human body schema is subjugated to utilitarian modes of being and colonised by hegemonistic, culturally limited, body paradigms. Could there be strategies for redesigning the body which do not depend on technological interference? In contrast to a humanist ideal of teleological rationality and perfectibility, and to the transhumanist concern with enhancement through technology, I suggest that the site for the posthuman is the diverse body itself; and that this posthuman body is an ongoing
more » ... vestigation. Abstract art allows for complexity and pluralism in the body; there is a shift from the body being the subject of the work to the body as a site of sensory experience. Similarly, experimental dance practices promote a somatosensory reorganisation, enabling access to corporeal spaces and ways of inhabiting the body which break with cultural conditioning and preconceived limits of anatomy. These two practices share a heuristic, phenomenological approach that foregrounds a perpetual transforming and kinaesthetically active body in exchange with its surroundings. The borders of the body, and the scale of our relationship to our body, shift. I propose that a posthumanism which gives attention to the dormant minutiae of the body can give us our bodies back. Through abstraction the ontological space of the body becomes, a kinaesthetic, active site: liminal and unfolding. Instead of a trajectory of progress there is an unearthing of dormant minutiae and a perpetual, delicate dance in a constellation of relations. spectrum has been reduced by perspectival technologies which seemingly renders it immobile, along with Ferrando's assertion that posthumanism should be comprehensive and "rooted in an extensive critical account of what it means to be human", 1 asking "what does it mean to be posthuman in our existence?". 2 The fi xity of the humanistic body It has been argued that since the Greeks and later still in the Renaissance, that geometry was given over to a visual set of symbols and apparatus. Examples include window-based geometry, linear perspective and apparatuses such as the perspective machine devised by Leon Alberti Baptista; along with methods of standardization and the need for measurement to be universal and communicable, 3 mobilising the primacy of an anthropocentric ocular-centric perspective. Jaime del Val gives an account, attributing the movement, measure and reorientation of our perceptions to be grounded in perspectival interfaces. According to del Val, these are ecologies of control that "reduce the sensory or kinetic spectrum" 4 he argues that this has forged a notion of sensory immobility, reducing the multi-sensory spectrum of experience. These methods of measurement of geometry and apprehension of spatial perception gave privilege to vision; thus, a kinaesthetic, sensuous relation to the space of the body was displaced and renounced. A dualism between mind and body pervades the hierarchical organisation of the senses. Helen Grace associates the dominance of vision in Western thought with the dominance of mind and the exclusion and denigration of the body. She argues that this line of thought is encouraged by the pervasive Kantian distrust "of bodily sensation". 5 Moreover, Grace suggests that these anthropocentric, humanist ideas prevailed where "perspective located Western man at the centre of the universe and now he is slightly off -centre [...] and [...] must reorient himself". 6 Perspective according to Grace, is not limited to the sphere of art, even the "sense of the absence of line presupposes an existing framework, a grid [...] in which lines, points, fi gures 1 F. Ferrando, The Posthuman: Philosophical Posthumanism and Its Others, Roma: Università di Roma Tre, 2013, p. 191.
doi:10.4467/20843860pk.19.011.10906 fatcat:yxwewa4r6jcurposz2qmduesme