Storytelling the Felt-Sense- Story one: Soul is an electronic art installation that invites the audience to reflect on personal blissful moments, as well as to experience them through the lens of someone else’s subjectivity. This art piece is one of the multiple works as part of my doctoral research The Felt Sense Project, which investigates the use of the somatic technique Focusing, in conjunction with wearable technology and design to access the core of people’s aesthetic experiences.
According to the philosopher Eugene Gendlin, the felt-sense –which is used as one of the artwork’s core materials-is a collection of thoughts, memories, sensations and other manifestations expressed in an unclear, wholistic and bodily manner. When representational language is not enough to describe the complexity of certain emotions, felt-senses might become apparent to people’s consciousness.
After having worked on several Focusing-oriented workshops in design, creativity and aesthetic experiencing, hundreds of narratives describing different ways to access the felt-sense have been collected. These little fragments of subjectivities reveal intimate aspects of people’s experiences, describing their understanding of happiness as a way to access meaning. As a result, descriptions are beautifully intimate, textural and deep. Storytelling the Felt-Sense- Story one: Soul captures and interprets one of these personal stories as a material for public storytelling.
The concept behind this wearable sculpture reflects on how technology should look at nature to answer complex questions. The pulsating energy of the Earth might go unnoticed to most humans, however the Queen bee is sensitive towards its small changes. She dances, reminding us how the invisible -yet fundamental- still has a strong influence on all of us.
The idea of crafting wearable technology for psychosomatic well-being was inspired from previous research studies indicating how the use of projective forms of art, touch and other physical interventions has a positive impact in the acknowledgement of the felt sense (Friedman 2004 and Rappaport 2008) as well as on relieving emotional blockages such as in the case of the Rosen Technique (Fogel 2011). This approach is also inspired by the introduction of concepts from Somaesthetics in design and technology (Shusterman 2011).
The Felt Sense Vest transmits heat as well as a gentle vibration in the upper torso, where the felt sense is generally perceived. The introduction of this repertoire of bodily sensation while engaging in the practice of Focusing is designed to assist participants to recognise, acknowledge, anchor and amplify their felt sense more directly.
This vest contains electronic circuitry that was built exclusively with soft materials, such as silver-coated conductive thread, and nickel buttons isolated with denim. This wearable piece was designed to simultaneously contain 4 electric heating pads, 4 portable vibration motors and 2 sets of batteries. Even through the vest looks quite compact, this design can be adapted to different body types.
1. Fogel, A., The psychophysiology of self-awareness: Rediscovering the lost art of body sense. 2009: WW Nor-ton New York.
2. Friedman, N. The integration of focusing with other body-centered intervention. 2004. The Focusing Institute, accessed 30th August 2013. http://www.focusing.org/fot/friedman_other_body_interventions.html
3. Gendlin, E.T., Focusing. 1978: Random House Digital, Inc.
4. Rappaport, L., Focusing-oriented art therapy: Access-ing the body’s wisdom and creative intelligence. 2008: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
5. Shusterman, R. (2011). Somaesthetics – Thinking Through the Body and Designing for Interactive Experience. The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd.
The concept behind Electronic chimeras of the deep sea resides in the aesthetic symbiosis between the human and the machine. A human host, who nurtures the chimera with physiological energy, receives heightened social visibility in exchange.
These wearable pieces were worn during the Founders Circle annual event, at the University of Sydney