When to use it?
This practice is suitable in the first part of the process for generating a state of sensible availability towards your surroundings.
It is a practice of “listening” with the whole body, of approaching the surrounding with a non-utilitarian perspective, making space for things to touch you in unexpected ways. As they allow themselves to be moved by and move with the others (also the non-human others), the participants develop an embodied base for empathic listening and collaborative acting through this practice.
How to do it?
Walk across the room with open attention and just let things catch your interest. Let yourself be called by the things, listen to what things invite you to do.
Go towards it and explore it. It might be a hole in the wall. It might be the sound of a ventilator that suddenly comes to your awareness. It might be the space between a corner of the room and a piece of furniture. How does it affect me? Follow the affect, satisfy the body’s curiosity. Explore it with your body, engage with it through your senses. Touch it, explore the texture, look into its finest visual details, put your body in-between it, feel the weight or the resistance it offers, taste it.
At some point, the attraction, the affect, starts to become weaker. When you are disengaged, let your attention open up again, walk around and wait for something to call you again.
Variations and extensions
Expand your awareness to the other people in the room. Let yourself be affected by them too. By the textures of their skins and clothes. By the sounds they do. By the movements and rhythms they produce. How does their movement affect you? How do you engage with it?
Take people as things, and things as people. Engage with everything on the same level. Respect their autonomy and their rhythms when approaching and engaging with them. Listen and respond. Engage with all of it as a sensing body among sensing bodies.
Ask yourself: What do the things invite me to do? What can I do with them? Enter into a dialogue of physicalities with them based on mutual listening and responding to affects, impulses, and forces.
The basic concept of this practice is commonly found in performance, dance, and somatics workshops. I experienced it in different contexts and as the practice is a very nuanced one, the experience of it varies depending on how the instructor guides it.
A theoretical concept that can enrich this practice is that of affordance, coined by the psychologist James J. Gibson. Affordance consists of what the environment offers the individual, and how we perceive it: an object offers us things we can do with it. It implies that our perception, our engagement with the environment is action-oriented. A rock, a fallen tree, and a chair are seats because of their “sittability”. But my body can also engage with them in order to reach something, because of their stability and it is quality of being climbable and so on. Expanding this concept, we can also think of affective affordances. For example, a song of a certain rhythm and quality offers an environment, which enables the listener to express certain feelings and move in relation to it.