Abstract of Research

Traversing the Succession of Space to Place to Home:

A Kinesthetic Comprehension of the Body as it Forms an Epistemology of Space

Sarah Matzke

Jacksonville University and the University of Texas at Dallas

United States of America

Keywords: Embodied cognition, experiential learning, phenomenology


Objective: This research examines a process of embodied cognition as it engages with an environment, traversing the succession of space to place to home. Kinesthetic comprehension of the body is followed as it forms an epistemology of a space. Asked is how a phenomenological movement practice assists sensorimotor processing and consciousness? How is memory formed, layered, recalled as a process in the body that yields choreographic knowledge for performative analyses?  How are experiential phenomena transferred using experiential learning theories of Dewey, Kolb and Kolb? And how does the research transcend when a triadic perspective of choreographer, performer and audience spectator is presented? Using the home, one of mankind’s most intimate containers of our time on earth, this candid space is entered for choreographic research to better understand how epistemologies of space and body are formed both individually and collectively and to illuminates the body’s significant role in forming knowledge of the world.

Methods: Five months were dedicated to a somatic movement practice that embodied Site 10354, an uninhabited and exenterated single-family home on a trajectory of transformation. Using the body as primary agent in cognition, a personal paradigm of space was found through sensorimotor processing and spatial behavior analysis. This paradigm was challenged through the involvement of sixteen participants—ages nineteen to thirty— while in residency at the University of Texas at Dallas. Over the course of two months, participants were guided and observed as they evolve the research using Kolb and Kolb’s four main elements of the learning cycle. Habitual movement patterns, spatial behaviors, spatial memories, corporal breath and haptic relations were analyzed. A collective paradigm was formed as a performative event entitled Thresholds at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Results: Post production surveys revealed spatial phenomena stimulated an affect of exchange within the triadic perspective. Audience members reported recall of personal experience in space and visceral bodily responses including withdrawal into their kinesphere as response to space materialized as full and shifting breath concordantly or on behalf of those on stage when space was either congruent or tense. When shared with participants a new paradigm of space and body was formed.

 Conclusion: The cognitive construct of space bore aperture for comprehension; providing greater connectivity to self, participants and audience through elevation of the body as the primary agent in cognition. By employing experiential learning theory participants reported a higher level of involvement in the choreographic process. Hierarchical system of authority decomposed resulting in a more engaged governing system in practicum. Devotion to a somatic, phenomenological movement practice unlocked embodiment. Sensation gave way to bodily awareness which, in turn, is stored as a cognitive process. The lived experience of embodied knowledge forms our epistemological structure, our cognitive homes.