La trace, le geste et la mémoire
Pieces of a gestural philosophy
La trace, le geste et la mémoire. Pieces of a gestural philosophy consist of a small number of traced gestural memories that will participate in a future book on gestural philosophy. They have been traced both in the place and through my trips, after conversations, or during hours of contemplative practice within the studio. I will present a series of drawings forming a mind map of the research at the exhibition. They are traces of a path in progress.
During this research period at the Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen, I have been developing a work of tracing memories, allowing them to appear through meditation and wandering. I have also let the closer environment become the tracing framework through which challenging a discursive form of research presentation. The place’s social, political, and material environment became the main tool through reorganizing the outcome of the research on gestural philosophy. Daily meditative practice, errancies, and trace-making became the assumed form of the research, interrupting discursive approaches and allowing a humble methodology based on “operative losses:” walking around, visiting places, and retracing paths were enactive tools through which understanding the form of a gestural philosophy. Objects, natural or artificial, made up a vital gestural network that continues to grow in the form of non-verbal thinking. Iterative and minor gestures became the surface upon which certain memories took ground.
The Chilean biologist and neurophenomenologist Francisco Varela believed that cognition is not just a matter of processing information in the brain but is intimately connected to the body and the environment. He argued that bodily gestures and movements play a fundamental role in cognition and that our bodily interactions with the world shape our perception and understanding of it. One of Varela’s critical contributions to the study of gestures was his concept of “enaction,” which suggests that cognitive processes are not just in the brain but are actively constructed by the organism’s interactions with the environment. In this view, gestures are not just a way of expressing pre-existing cognitive processes but are part of the cognitive process. Varela also emphasized the importance of mindfulness and introspection in understanding the role of gestures in cognition. He believed that by paying attention to our bodily movements and sensations, we could gain new insights into the cognitive processes that underlie our experiences. Varela’s scientific and philosophical research has offered new insights into the complex relationship between gestures, perception, and understanding.
My artistic research on gestural philosophy has involved interdisciplinary research and analysis of philosophical concepts, theories of embodiment, and practical examples of gestural expression. It has also required a critical examination of the ethical and political implications of gestures and movements and how they shape our experiences and interactions with the world. Gestures can be used to subvert dominant narratives and create alternative ways of thinking and being in the world in several ways. From their fragile and ephemeral condition, gestures can challenge given expectations, interpretations, and meanings. Studies have shown that using hand gestures while learning or recalling information can improve memory retention and recall. This suggests that gestures are not only a way of expressing memories but can also help us remember and retrieve memories. In the same way, gestures can play a role in forming personal and collective memories. Memories and gestures are closely intertwined, with bodily movements and sensations significantly forming and interpreting memories.