Monday, 29 August 2011
The design above is a update of the basic backpack. This new version is equipped with strong poles (in this case, cardboard rolls) to support the back while walking. Straps connect the body across the chest and waist, ensuring that the back stays straight while in the backpack. Slouching means that the back drags the bag with it which in turn is very uncomfortable, correcting the posture.
It extends the idea of traveling with a large backpack around Europe, in which the support comes from front straps and a frame. This version is much more accessible, and meant for everyday use.
This was an interesting class in which we all lay on the floor and became very aware of how our body was 'feeling', rather than how we were feeling in our mind. The experiment reminded me of yoga class in which there is a relaxation session at the end, where the instructor tells us to trust the floor to let it hold you. During this class I became so much more aware of my body and how it feels while lying on the floor, e.g. where I could feel the ground holding me.
By rotating our hips and pelvic muscles, we could loosen up our bodies and feel more relaxed and comfortable.
The illustration above is of my interpretation of this experience. I focused on the pain and sensations I was feeling, from lying flat for a long period of time. I especially focused on the shoulder blade, buttock and back of head. The red colour represents the intensity of the feeling, whereas the blue areas represent areas that I was more aware of than normal e.g. my spine.
Sunday, 28 August 2011
"Find your true weakness and surrender to it. Therein lies the path to genius. Most people spend their lives using their strengths to overcome or cover up their weaknesses. Those few who use their strengths to incorporate their weaknesses, who don't divide themselves, those people are very rare. In any generation there are a few and they lead their generation."-- Moshe Feldenkrais, D.Sc.
Saturday, 27 August 2011
I think it was Steph who brought up in a post last week the question of how a walker feels in the absence of their artifacts or props of walking. I have often heard people say when they have forgotten things "I feel naked with out my watch, phone, ipod, etc." In this scenario you consider how your functionality is impaired but why use the word naked? The reality is "I don't have my watch so I don't know the time and I feel lost" or "I don't have my phone so I can't make contact with people or be contacted so I feel anxious." but people give more weight to this problem saying that it effects them on a physical level leaving them exposed and naked.
I tried a little empathetic experiment leaving everything behind but a few dollars in my pocket and walked to the corner shop and found the results suprisingly acute. The front pocket of my jeans felt particularly empty with out my phone. Normally when I have it I never really noticed how it moves and presses against my leg as I walk but its absence was quite stark and unsettling. I keep unconsciously touching my pocket and felt quite distracted as I walked. On the way home I felt more relaxed but I power walked the whole way as if I was wasting time. Quite odd. I felt exposed to people on the street and vaguely inclined to talked to them as I passed because I was not 'plugged in' to my ipod. It gave me the feeling that I was 'open for business' and that today more then any other strangers were going to randomly speak to me. Weird. Naked without being naked. The new modern phenomenon.
(of a person or part of the body) without clothes : he'd never seen a naked woman before | he was stripped naked.
• (of an object) without the usual covering or protection : her room was lit by a single naked bulb.
• (of a tree, plant, or animal) without leaves, hairs, scales, shell, etc. : the twisted trunks and naked branches of the trees.
• figurative exposed to harm; unprotected or vulnerable : John looked naked and defenseless without his glasses.
• [ attrib. ] (of something such as feelings or behavior) undisguised; blatant : naked, unprovoked aggression | the naked truth.
I think when people use the term 'naked' in this situation it is used with the meaning of "without the usual covering or protection" and "exposed to harm; unprotected or vulnerable" as stated above. Our daily items are talismans of security so we feel naked without them and there absence is particularly notable when we are walking and they are no longer interacting with us. Listening to my ipod says to others "I can't talk.", having your mobile feels connected and wearing a watch I feel on top of things. Without them the personal bubble bursts and voila! Naked.
In this theme my sister recently returned from England and we cannot find that place we put her keys for safe keeping so whenever she leaves the house she complains about her 'naked pockets'. Poor girl.
Monday, 22 August 2011
Found this pretty funny post about the worst types of pedestrians. Although it's about NYC, some of them definitely apply to Sydney as well. It identifies some of the issues that pedestrians walking in the city face - could be the starting point/inspiration for a design that attempts to solve these problems.
My initial observations were based around the idea of becoming a part of the walking city – being involved in the experience with a heightened awareness of my actions, rather than watching on from afar. I started my walk by following one particular stressed out looking pedestrian who seemed to be in quite a hurry to get nowhere in particular. This journey of keeping up with my newfound walking buddy led me on a weaving path through all sorts of pedestrians including tourists, business men and women on their lunch breaks, students, homeless people, pesky charity workers and those just wandering through the city. There was one pedestrian which caught my attention in particular – a young adult male, possibly a student, dressed in casual clothes and wearing a backpack. He was walking at an average speed – faster than a tourist taking in the sites but slower than a peak hour worker rushing to get home. What this particular pedestrian showed me was that people walking in the city without that much concern for time or a destination who appeared to be merely enjoying the walk, did not really fit into the city environment. The pedestrian tended to wander around the footpath, swerving from left to right, looking up at buildings and at shop windows and appeared to be taking in their surroundings more so than others. In the meantime, the people around the ‘wanderer’ were looking annoyed, trying to speed through the maze of people, looking at the space on the ground rather than the path in front of them, or using their mobile phones while still managing to somehow make their way through the crowd.
My observations from this initial walk of the behaviour of different types of pedestrians in the city and how this reflects on their experience of walking in the city would be an interesting area to explore. This could lead to the development of a concept for a wearable that will allow each type of pedestrian to be able to experience the city in a richer and more sensorial way than what they would when they are rushing to reach a their destination or deadline.
As for the initial fast-walker, we ended up at Coles.
My invention is a set of ergonomically designed shoulder pads which can be worn inconspicuously by pedestrians while walking in the city to protect themselves from bumps and bruises caused when their fellow pedestrians knock into them unannounced. Busy city environments can often be quite unnerving experiences for pedestrians unfamiliar with the environment or who don’t like their personal space to be invaded by a stranger in a hurry. My invention cushions the physical and emotional blow of a stranger bumping into you on their rush to work by protecting you and allowing you to walk safely through the city. The tranquillity pads also act as small pillows which you can adjust and use to nap on the train or in your lunch break to bring a sense of calm and safety to the hectic city environment.
The Magic lies in their ability to provide a feeling of inconspicuous tranquility and safety while still allowing you get where you need to be and experience the city environment. To further increase the feeling of tranquility, the pads could integrate a massaging lining to relax and calm the user in times of stress while walking in the city.
Some quotes from Body Consciousness, by R. Shusterman:
“I also perceive my body as something that I have and use rather than am… something that distracts, disturbs, or makes me suffer. Such discord encourages somatic alienation and the familiar denigrating objectification of the body as just an instrument” (pg. 3)
“Too many of our ordinary somatic pleasures are taken hurriedly, distractedly, and almost as unconsciously as the pleasures of sleep. If this dearth of somaesthetic sensitivity helps explain our culture’s growing dependence on increasing stimulation through the sensationalism of mass-media entertainments and far more radical means of thrill taking, then such a diet of artificial excitements can conversely explain how our habits of perception.. are transformed in ways that elevate the stimulus threshold for perceptibility and satisfaction while diminishing our capacities for tranquil, steady, and sustained attention.” (pg. 6-7)
The Feldenkrais lesson was quite an interesting experience which allowed me to see and feel the body in a different way than what we have come to accept scientifically. My representation of the body after we had undertaken the exercise shows the key areas which I found played the greatest role in movement and what would be walking in real life. What surprised me was how much control you can have over your body with only your pelvis and spine, as represented by the bold colours around these key areas and the subdued tones for the other major limbs as if they didn’t exist at all. The key aspect I took from this exercise was how hard it is to ‘turn your brain off’ as represented by the radiating pulses around the head in the drawing. No matter how hard I tried, I was always conscious of what my body was doing and the others around me – an observation which could relate to everyday life and people walking in the city.
Sunday, 21 August 2011
Beat Streuli also captures people unaware but modern day city dwellers.
see a series of Sydney street scenes at http://beatstreuli.com/sydney-02.html
In Melbourne's Design that Moves festival a competition was held to promote pedestrian travel.. called Design for an active city the competition will see 9 shortlisted entries implemented in October. They are aimed at promoting a major thoroughfare in Melbourne city. The concept to turn a bridge into a musical instrument sounds pretty interesting. You will notice how most of the concepts involved architectural/urban spatial type interventions... shortlisted projects get $25, 000 dollars to play with so i suppose it best to spend it on something that costs. It will be interesting to see how our concepts ( to come) might compare with the ones shortlisted. How similar or different might ours be?
The design brief is here
|My spot - I was sitting on that grass strip observing|
Saturday, 20 August 2011
A backpack, a canvas sling bag, a grocery roller and an overnight bag. If they were all leaving uni together and they were all conversing closely & laughing together as they were walking, would it be safe to assume that they might be doing the same course? Maybe the same subjects, timetables etc. So if they potentially needed the same things as each other for the days events, I wonder why their bags were all so different? What else were they doing, where else were they going in order for them to select that particular bag for their walk? Do we choose a bag for comfort? Functionality? Or does it give us a certain sense of empowerment? How do these things effect our 'walking experience'?
Friday, 19 August 2011
Thursday, 18 August 2011
From the Feldenkrias Lesson we drew a drawing representing our feelings which made me realised how much unaware i am of my own body. The drawing represent more about the pain and discomfort i was feeling during the session than the awareness of my whole body. My body is like an invisible vessel... and it makes me wonder how many people out there are like me. The drawing of my skeleton after the session allows me to see my body from a different perspective, from a more abstract and emotional viewpoint allowing me to break away from the rigid anatomical objective perspective of the body.
Tuesday, 16 August 2011
Today’s observation exercise turned out to be an interesting experience for me. I must admit throughout the exercise my attention did stray from concentrating on pure walking, but in the end it kind of brought me to think about closeness within society.
I decided to sit in a shopping centre food court and watch people as the entered and exited escalators. After a short amount of time sitting there a man in a green jumper came to sit at the table I was at. He initially wandered over to the other end of the table, but eventually moved closer and closer to where I was sitting, as there were dirt and food scraps on the table. When he chose his final seat he was right (and kind of uncomfortably) next to me. I continued watching others in the shopping centre as they walked to and from the escalators. I noticed people holding large objects and bags walked much faster than people who were carrying nothing at all. As I observed, took photos, and filmed, my attention kept getting drawn to the man who was sitting right across from me. I couldn't stop wondering if he was noticing me making my observations and recordings, and was wondering. With him so close to me it made me really consider how I was taking my observations and watching others. This brought my attention to the way in which so many people are moving through the city; walking past each other, physically brushing past each other, standing next to each other in bus lines, and yet, in a relaxed seated position, closeness to others can be so uncomfortable. Its almost as if when we are standing or walking next to strangers, it doesn't matter how close our proximity is, we can stand or walk right next to each other- as long as we are going somewhere and have a purpose for our actions. But if we are to sit next to a stranger closely, we feel uncomfortable and uneasy.
Monday, 15 August 2011
Illustrating body awareness during The Feldenkrais Lesson taught me an alternate way to represent the body, rather than words. For example: it was interesting to map out areas of awareness as a drawing, which allowed most people to focus on areas of discomfort and pain. I had most discomfort around my head, jaw, and hips - represented by harsh red scribbled areas.
Sunday, 14 August 2011
Saturday, 13 August 2011
More interesting links from Jotta…
"10 years ago, when Carole Collet set up Textile Futures at Central Saint Martins, she envisioned a new agenda for textile design. Since then the course has become internationally recognised, Collet and her team have formed a new discipline for “designers who are willing to engage with sustainable thinking, experimental design and radical doing.” We spent some time with these designers to find out more about our future textiles."
- via Mille Ross, Jotta website/blog
Link to item on Orlagh O'Brien's project at the fabulous Jotta (art & design) website
"Can 250 people describe their visceral feelings of emotion visually, and if so, would any patterns arise? In order to answer this, I developed a unique method of asking people to reflect on and describe their private feelings in a simple, repeatable manner, the results of which could be correlated visually and demographically."
"People were asked in various ways to describe their somatic experience of 5 emotions: anger, joy, fear, sadness, love. The method was hard copy to allow for unimpeded drawing, and consistent colour appearance"
At TED@Cannes, Gary Wolf gives a 5-min intro to an intriguing new pastime: using mobile apps and always-on gadgets to track and analyze your body, mood, diet, spending -- just about everything in daily life you can measure -- in gloriously geeky detail.
Here's a link to a fascinating interactive website from BioMotion Lab, that allows you to synthesize mood and gender through a point-light animation (click on the picture to open the link):
I find it very interesting to observe pedestrians in the city from this perspective: the body-language of walking, and how we consciously or unconsciously signal our sense of power, desirability, control and mood, and then to reflect on my own musculo-skeletal organization in walking - what am I holding, how are my intentions embodied in this organisation, are these intentions aligned, or contradictory? Its easier to reflect on these very subtle (but powerful) postural differences when you can compare and contrast your own experience - this is something that is often explored in Feldenkrais 'Awareness Through Movement' lessons, at the end of each class: "how do you feel in walking now? what feels different? is this how you usually feel in walking? what in particular feels different?".
The topic of gender and walking can be particularly important for people seeking to transition from one gender to another (or something in between?), and for people who feel the need for a stronger identification with received notions of what it means to be a man or woman in our culture. Bear in mind that gait styles and their gendering can vary significantly from one culture to another, and even from one subculture to another (i.e. Sub-Saharan Africa, East-Asia, Rap/R&B culture, Bikies, Surfies, Drag Queens, Gay Twinks/Bears etc.).
Here's an interesting conversation from a transman's (female-to-male transexual) blog by Dan4th re walking and gait analysis:
Provost et al (2008) found that women who were more fertile, or who had an "unrestricted sociosexual orientation" (more likely to engage in short-term mating) found greater masculinity more attractive in point light walkers.And from a totally different perspective: a wonderful and very inspiring formal manipulation of point-light gait analysis technique by the Issey Miyake creative team
…One of the first things that other transmen tried to teach me, when I was first transitioning, was how to walk like a man. I'll tell you flat out: I don't. I still catch myself with quite a bit of hip swing. Still, learning the correct walk is a huge step towards "passing" for most transfolk I've known. I am dubious but fascinated by Brooks et al's finding about walker orientation. This study used 3 men and 2 women as observers. I have to say: I probably spend more time watching men approach and women leave, but that's because I make an effort not to stare at women (when they can see me doing it).
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
( ...and M a g i c )
|The shoulder strap is adjustable, it unties and length can be changed according to personal comfort|
|Fabric as blanket, shawl, picnic mat etc.|