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Round Table Panel: Embodied Consciousness

2 December 2022 at 2:30:00 am

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Session Convenors

Jenny Hickinbotham

Grace McQuilten, RMIT University

Session Speakers

Jenny Hickinbotham
Grace McQuilten, RMIT University
Ceri Hann

The artist speaks across practical, conceptual, and ethical issues of performative practice: sharing song and video.

Professor Antonio Damasio, Portuguese/American neuroscientist and author of Feeling and Knowing discusses the body’s thought-less primitive bacterial-like brain’s autonomic behaviours which link to elements of Dr Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory. The paper’s author discusses fight/flight impulse through emotionally challenging ‘voice hearing’ type experiences. Emotions transmit inside the body while sensory information is gleaned through an environmental lens. Emotion and sense information meet in the brain culminating in the reasoning or logical brain’s conscious experience.

Issues considered:
- How can human senses support engagement with our environment?
- What does sense engagement mean for an ethics of participation?
- How does the artist’s singing performance impact sensory engagement and emotional engagement?
- Where can embodied engagement between, the primitive mind and fight/flight mind, create consciousness or the reasoning mind. (REF Professor Antonio Damasio).
- How can performative art embody consciousness?
- What does it feel like to communicate through performance?
- Embodied Consciousness will be considered in light of the dis-embodied online audience’s sensory, emotional and reasoning know-how. Do sensory experiences, listening and vocalising, usurp a whole of body online engagement?

Audience participation is encouraged.

Is neuroplasticity really my art medium?

Dr Ceri Hann

The practice of gifting small, unusual objects to instigate complex dialogue is how I rewire my brain. If the shaping of sound into a coherent utterance has the effect of metaphorically touching another, perhaps in a literal sense it is a subtle extension of our body and very much felt when those words are being responded to. The interplay of proprioceptive systems as they discern the limits of subjective truth with the hopeful yet unfalsifiable hypothesis that we somehow exist. I think I think, but how can I be sure that I am? Perhaps through iterative dialogue with unfamiliar interlocutors in the hope that they will pull the rug of certainty from under me. The risking of what I think I know by making it the subject of conversation so as to perform neurological topiary or a recasting of the neural nets to catch a glimpse of the fish that got away. In my experience when this exchange of words and ideas is constituted around a physical and somewhat absurd small object like a pin with no point, along with a verbal provocation like ‘I’ve been working on a small monument to nihilism, would you like one’ it seems to enable the intuitive capacities of embodied cognition to be a lot more involved. A mnemonic device, a bookmarking of time and place, a hyperlinking of multiple simultaneous modes of being. In this presentation I will attempt to elucidate through a performative exchange that straddles the screening effect of online delivery.



Jenny Hickinbotham 

Jenny Hickinbotham turned her thoughts into ‘creativity’ because living with schizophrenia, thoughts can be troublesome. Future: Shortlisted Incinerator Gallery Art for Social Change exhibition 16 Sept to 30 Oct. RMIT Gallery, Archives of Feeling: The Knowledge of Trauma, 23 September-16 Dec 2022. Commissioned to select works from the Cunningham Dax Collection, write-sing Ephrasic poem/songs in response. Déjà vu all over again, board-game about mental health. Currently: contributing to Decentring Australian Art, with Grace McQuilten RMIT, Anthony White Melb Uni and Tristan Harwood The Monthly. Past: Solo exhibitions Sticks and Stones will Break my Bones, but Words Can Totally Destroy my Mind!, Blindside Sound Series, 6-23 April 2022, curator Joel Stern, Liquid Architecture. Sam Pankhurst , collaborator: ‘....A real honour to meet you and play your music.’ Miranda: … To make an audience understand your mental health journey is brilliant... Jenny’s is the most courageous narrative that I’ve ever seen…it’s amazing.’ 

Grace McQuilten, RMIT University 

Grace McQuilten is a published art historian, curator and artist with expertise in contemporary art and design, public art, social practice, social enterprise and community development. 

Dr Ceri Hann 

Ceri Hann is a multidisciplinary arts practitioner who develops participatory art forms intended to enhance the conditions for collective idea generation. This approach to practice often avoids categorisation, as the outcomes are intentionally defused in the wonder/wander of everyday life. The gifting of metaphorical objects to instigate philosophical discourse stems from Ceri’s PhD research at RMIT entitled The Making of a Knowledge Casino (2016). The creation of low-tech props for treating the urban condition as a 3D movie set were used to enable mutually inspired activities for people that may not consider themselves artists but may become script writers of their own way to play. A link to his presentation can be found here: Over the past ten years Ceri has been a sessional tutor and guest lecturer in the School of Art and School of Architecture and Design at RMIT and has an ongoing engagement within the Art in Public Space and MFA post-graduate programs. Ceri has presented work at Melbourne Comedy Festival (2017), Liquid Architecture (2015), RMIT Project Space (2014) and run workshops at West Space, Blindside Sound Series and Testing Grounds. Ceri is also one half of Public Assembly. Public Assembly is an art and design practice focused on the dynamics of social space, investing time, investigating place and achieving unique creative interactions.

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