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spurse fieldwork

October 20, 2011

While I was at the BMW Guggenheim Lab a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of participating in Live Feeds FeedForward 9: Producing Empathic Fields. This field study was part of Phase Four: Understanding Ourselves as the City. Looking at their schedule, I really wish I still lived in NYC so I could have attended every event for this project, but alas I do not.

“Here is a simple but radical thought: our empathy pulls us beyond ourselves and out into the world. This not simply a mental act. Empathy links and stitches environments, practices and creatures together. How does this physical holding together happen? What are the movement-spaces of empathy? Come test and develop extended ideas of empathy via movement and way finding exercises.” –spurse

I honestly haven’t even started to go through my notes, but I am still feeling the creative-high from attending. Such an amazing experience. We departed from the Lab and walked across the street to a park. Then, spurse members Iain Kerr and Petia Morozov conducted an interesting discussion followed by a field exercise. Once I have the time to go over my notes I plan on putting together another post, so for now I’ll share what we accomplished during the field exercise.

Iain and Petia paired us all up. My partner, Scott, is currently a PhD student at The New School and was great to work with. Our assignment was to recall memories by inhibiting our sense of sight and sound in response to our environment. We were given blindfolds, earplugs, and sticks about 4 feet long. I was up first. I put the blindfold and earplugs on. I was not comfortable with this at all but it was surprising to me how quickly I allowed myself to trust Scott. With the stick to guide me I walked around (a public park across the street from the BMW Lab) while Scott walked alongside me making sure I didn’t hit anyone – or walk out into traffic! While I walked around I let my mind loosen up (a hard thing for me!) and allowed my surroundings to bring up old memories. As something popped into my mind, I would shout it out and Scott would record it. He also recorded where the memory was evoked. For example, I remembered being stranded in a canoe on a lake in my youth while I started walking onto a soccer field. Scott stopped me from actually walking onto the field as there was a practice going on! Thanks Scott! At the end of 15-20 minutes I was able to take off the blindfold and earplugs and it was Scott’s turn to recall his memories.

The entire experience was incredible. Like I said, once I’m able to go through my notes I’ll share more! I really wish I was able to attend more sessions and I can’t wait to hear how the project evolves.

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