SKINESPHERES: Somatic Ecologies in a More-Than-Human World

In a striking integration of Deep Ecology, electroacoustic sound art and experimental dance, this performance invites the audience to consider the connection(s) between sensorium and ecosystem, the body and the earth.

The culmination of a 6-week interdisciplinary environmental science and somatic studies workshop, the dancers and musicians in this performance experiment with performing both sonic and somatic choreographies modeled after biological creatures quantum physicist Karen Barad calls “Queer Critters.” These highly intelligent and interconnected beings — from the underwater Brittlestar to the subterranean Mycelium fungal networks — do not posses a central brain and challenge our Western understandings of delineated corporeality. They perceive and understand the world with their body; they make sense of the earth with their skin. This performance asks: How can other-than-human beings illuminate our understandings of embodiment, and how can their dances through the world further enrich our own?

Sound artist Rocco Strain utilizes miniature contact microphones to sense audio vibrations produced by physical contact with the flesh and skin of living plant and fungal organisms such as plants, trees, moss, mycelium, mushrooms, lichens and flowers. Looped seamlessly into into a textural tapestry of sonic transmission, what you hear is flesh-to-flesh contact and cross-species encounters, the rubbing of overlapping earthly skins, the attraction and the repulsion. In this live electroacoustic sound piece, the musicians also incorporate bio-sonification devices that use electrodes hooked up to living, breathing plants to translate the bioelectricity and electromagnetic currents occurring within the plant’s organism into soundscapes.

Choreographer Iván Espinosa, highly influenced by his intensive studies of Japanese Butoh, takes up Nancy Stark Smith’s conceptualization of the “Skinesphere” to explore the intimate links between our senses and the earthly sensuous. An obscure footnote in Contact Improvisation, a postmodern dance form initiated in 1972 by American choreographer Steve Paxton, the SKINESPHERE aims to draw attention to that which is contained within the boundaries of the body and how this inner sensorium leads to bonding with the Earth. In connection to the sensorial modes of perception embodied by the Brittlestars, Mycelium and other “Queer Critters,” the dancers in this performance engage with the SKINESPHERE as a cross-species phenomenon. Breath by breath, pore-through-pore, skin to skin, we invite you to join us as we meditate on what ecologist David Abram calls the “reciprocity between our animal body and the animate terrain…the simple, somatic affinity that entangles our body with the bodies of other creatures, binding our sentience with that of the local earth.”

To learn more about choreographer Iván Espinosa’s electroacoustic sound art and live dance collaborations, you can read about his work here.

Doors at 7 PM.
The performance will be followed by a Q&A and refreshments.