Search This Blog

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Thinking about identity and identifying in art 'theory'- representation, semiotics, somatic practice - ways of thinking about meaning

Use this blog as you find it - ideas to use now or come back to - often people ask how to use 'art' or practice-based ideas in their inquiries - so this is a taster of some ways to do that... you might want to come back to it when you are shopping around for ideas...

Identity is a concept about finding out about ourselves and is a central one for the arts - who are you? how do you fit in with your generation? politics? social? culture? economics? geography (people and places)? Where do you work and how do you work?

Identifying is the ability to use ideas to explain or articulate meaning. In constructivist thinking there is no one set meaning, but many ways to interpret meaning.

These identifying themes are often used to try to conceptualise art forms...

Here is a small extract form Stuart Hall's Representation (2nd ed) (2013)

"just as people who belong to the same culture must share a broadly similar conceptual map, so so they must also share the same way of interpreting the signs of language, for only in this way can meanings be effectively exchanged between people. But how do we know which concept stands for which think? Or which word effectively represents which concept?... Visual signs and images, even when they bear a close resemblance to the things to which they refer, are still signs: they carry meaning and thus have to be interpreted (p. 5).

Theories of representation are often used in media studies to interpret what people see.

it is also called semiotic practice

This is the ideas of semiotics applied to dance

(quite intense article - but here is the conclusion)

"In conclusion, although it has characteristics of signal and symptom, human dance also entails symbolic qualities derived from its embedding in some cultural codes. It reveals a process specific to human semiosis: the "culturalization" of the natural or the motivated. Dance is a special expression and characteristic of human behavior. Dancing codes try to fix the spontaneity, the "naturality" of movements and feelings within a foreseeable and repeatable system of expression. In such a code — or body language — the flashing of life and emotion is taking shape. Dance involves a special form of "stylization" or abstraction and of codification... Dancing movement is also an intersection point of various codes, such as social, esthetical, (re)presentational, theatrical, and choreographic ones and thereby it acquires a symbolic character as a partially objectivated and conventionalized expression structure" (Pope, 2013, p.8). 

Another useful idea for identity and identifying is somatic practice...

"What Somatics is…Somatics is a holistic change theory that understands both personal and collective transformation from a radically different paradigm. Somatics understands both the individual and collective as a combination of biological, evolutionary, emotional and psychological aspects, shaped by social and historical norms and adaptive to a wide array of both resilient and oppressive forces. All of this gets embodied through both resilience and survival strategies, and social and cultural practices become “shapes” or embodied worldviews, habits, ways of relating, automatic actions and non-action. What we embody becomes familiar, “normal,” and habitual, even “feels” right…even when what we embody may not match up with our values or vision. Then, what we embody connects to our identity and how we see ourselves" (online, Generative Somatics).

Adesola is a good person to talk to about somatic practice if you want to know more...

1 comment:

  1. relating to my question of physically correcting students in relation to safe guarding children. When using somatics in dance/movement therapy moving the body physically is surely essential to their progress? When teaching a movement the student, to 'internally feel' or experience the movement, may need guidance from a teacher, physical correction, appropriately, allowing the student to become more aware and perform better.