Poem about Play: Response 2

10 Mar

To understand the power in the play, we need to live it. Live the transformation and dynamism of it and experience a transformation within. It gives us a space to refigure things and generate new practices.

Play has been a firm source of understanding social processes of humans.

An essential part of play deeply resonates with learning and cognitive development, a sense in which play is understood as a tool of understanding the self.

The ability of playing is becoming a part of everyone’s lifestyle. “Critical play” is obtained by everyone and can be experienced through playing board games, video games, and even your typical “tag” or “hide and go seek.

Play is a social aspect in that it is a tool that helps individuals understand the world as it is, it requires thinking and we then develop skills that we use for the future that we may not even have realized we were developing these social skills.

It is a mode of learning and therefore a way of knowing. It is kinesthetic way of learning things around you. We do it through mimesis. We understand the rules and act accordingly

Critical Play is a type of play that serves answers certain questions about human life

Critical play can also subvert norms and rules in order to create new one

Language plays a large part, what is said to us and what we read influences us, and what we say to people is important as well.

Play has been transformed in the realm of technology as well.

Games are a sort of social technology, as they create certain meanings involving social relations and make every day actions more easily understood among players.

Although play can be used and interpreted many ways depending on culture, society, etc, it creates similar emotions that I’m sure we all share.



Critical Play : Response 1

9 Mar

The act of play is a concept deeply rooted in civilization. As suggested by Malaby, play is older than culture and has long been incorporated into the daily acts carried out by humans and animals alike. As suggested by Priya in her blog Play! Critical Play. Technical Play. But Play is just play!, play is play and it has formulated way before humans even stepped on earth. Play whether its technical, physical or dramatic stimulates creativity, imagination and possibly even a sense of living. Play allows individuals to undergo a communicative transformation. Further, the concept of play carries a contagion affect with it. It has the power to be highly influential and transform the individuals within its space. As seen during sport events, the act of play whether its hockey or soccer has the power to transform the audience and affect their mood and behavior. The power of play is so strong it can even join nations together. Further play can evoke a sense of addiction through its power to heighten one’s sensory perception. As seen in the examples of gambling addiction, the trance induced by the slot machine play transforms individuals to a world of a subjective reality. Even something as simple as watching children play when you are suppose to concentrate on homework as suggested by Priya in her blog, can be an experience that draws one in, encouraging a mimetic communication. Further, the act of play allows individuals to enter multiple desired realities. Video games through its visual captivity can transform individuals to a point where one loses a sense of reality for hours even days. Throughout the course of play, there seems to exist a sense of infectious communication that influences the external space and transforms the individuals in it. As suggested by Priya, play is ambiguous and thus has multiple definitions and impacts however play is also very powerful with the abilities to transform people and spaces through a sensory enhancement attribute.


Human Machine Addiction

9 Mar

Human addictions are often understood as mental or behavioral disorders closely linked to mental illness and fundamentally based on a subject’s increased dependency to a particular object. While emphasis is often placed on the problem of the user or the product itself, what is often absent from the analysis of human addictions is the problematic interaction between the product and the user. A Human- Machine Addiction by Natasha Shull examines the emerging repeated interaction between a user and a specific object that ultimately produces a desirable subjective shift. She emphasizes the relationship between the subject and the object rather than its attributes as separate entities. As Shull examines the human addiction of gambling, she explains the process as a distinctive procedural and phenomenological routine that produces a unique cycle of energy and concentration and a corresponding cycle of affective peaks and dips. Gambling has the ability to perpetuate a trance like state that dissolves the world of the player into a subjective suspension and affective calm derived from the act of play alone. Further, she dismisses the approach to treat technology as purely materialistic and neutral but as in constant dynamic encounter with humans. Shull develops a concept of a shared zone that is developed through the act of gambling, bringing gamblers together from diverse walks of life. The zone as a carefully constructed environment is based on architectural strategies, technological capacities, affective states and cultural values. As illustrated in the picture comparison of a web café and a casino presented in class, it is evident physical spaces are constructed in a specific manner to evoke the experience of the zone. The space of a casino is designed in a dimmed setting with no sense of time and desirable service to create an external reality that a player can immerse himself in. Further, the very act of gambling creates a subjective reality for the player that operates as a sensory stimulant. As explained by the lady in the short video presented in class, gambling is not about winning. It is about the high that is experienced during the encounter between then user and the machine. My first experience at the casino had a similar impact on my sensory perception. Initially I did not feel heightened excitement to gamble however once immersed in the atmosphere and interacting with the machines, something has developed within me that caused my awareness to heighten and I became more involved in the act. Whether it was the zone created in my surrounding space or the interaction with the machines or a combination of both, something occurred in the space of a casino that appealed to my sensorium. As this trance like embodiment, appeals to a bodily experience of the player and stimulates a sensory experience, one is able to remove themselves from their daily practices and through an interactive relationship with the object of addiction develop a desired world of their own. Further, the affective states of designers, marketers and managers of the devices act at a distance to solicit and sustain specific acts of human behavior.  Therefore the dynamic interaction between the user and the object is not build on a two way relationship foundation but inflicted upon by external contributing factors. It is essential to consider, if the interaction between the addicted and the addiction is influenced by surrounding factors then the heightened sensory experience developed as a result of the addiction is also impacted by a number of contributing forces. Ultimately, it becomes questionable how influential are cultural, social and economic forces on our sensory perception. It is evident our sensory experiences are not neutral but shaped by external forces. While, external forces have the ability to heighten our sensory experiences, the question remains whether these influences have a positive or a negative final outcome?

After Affect

7 Mar

In the contemporary world, people engage in a constant flow of communication and interaction exchange that fundamentally alters their relations. As part of everyday functioning, human and non-human life is continuously intersected with implications that ultimately influence their sensory perception. As suggested by Anna Gibbs in After Affect, a relation process of mimetic communication is experienced in our daily lives. Mimetic communication as a pervasive sharing of form that seems to be the fundamental communication principles, runs through all levels of behavior in human and animal bodies ultimately connecting to other processes in the natural world. Mimesis as explained by Gibbs is a multidisciplinary approach that draws upon science and humanities, therefore it is both nature and culture. It has the power to imply particular affects transmitted from body to body. As illustrated in the example of facial expressions, mimetic impulse operates on a response level, eliciting and mimicking the same affect as observed from another source. For example, facial expressions are easily observed and copied. When an individual smiles, an automatic reaction to smile back is triggered. Similarly, when an individual is frowning it is easy to adapt those emotions even if one was previously smiling. As explained by Gibbs, the face plays a central role in the expression and communication of affects. This affect is recognized and implemented in the simple tasks of every day life such as in the workplace as well as in the media and business realm. Billboards and magazines ads are constructed in a manner that is designed to evoke emotions in the observer and ultimately have him mimic the model. Further, it is not only facial expression that mimicry can evoke but bodily actions as well. When we watch someone performing an action, the mirror system of humans evokes. I often find myself, mirroring actions of actors on TV when immersed in a television show or even when watching a play at the theater. At times, my body experiences an instant reaction to mimic the emotions and actions of the observed even though I am physically removed from the scene. It is evident that physical space does not mean one can not create emotional or mental connections. Through simple observations of bodily movement and facial expressions, body language can be easily read and adopted whether intentionally or not. The response that our bodies experience is sometimes subconscious and we often do not realize the mimicry our bodily movement is producing. As illustrated in the play Sleep No More, the audience automatically mimicked the actions of the crowd, not knowing what to expect next, when they followed the actors as they moved through space ultimately conjoining the momentary world of the audience with the world of the actors. As experiences are communicated and shared between individuals, subjective worlds come into momentary contact with each other. I often find myself smiling and laughing in response to my sister’s excitement even when I am not exactly aware of the circumstances. It is in that moment that our two separate worlds are joined together. However it is not only human life that can be mimicked but animal life as well. On multiple occasions we mimic the excitement of our dog when he is running around outside or feel a slight jump when our cat jumps from the counter. Gestures as suggested by Gibbs are material carriers that help bring meanings into existence. Our sensory perception is continuously intersected with the sensory perceptions of our surrounding human and animal life. In addition, objects such as foods can trigger mimetic communication. The scent of coffee or sight of our favorite food can immediately cause us to lick our lips and salivate as a responsive reaction to the perception of our senses. All experiences have the power to trigger sensory receptors in our bodies and cause our senses to react to the observed ultimately influencing and heightening our awareness.

The Egg and The Sperm

7 Mar

The social constructions of stereotypes are central to our perception of the world around us. As explained by Emily Martin in The Egg and the Sperm: How Science has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles, culture shapes how even biological scientists describe what they discover about the natural world. Further, she examines the scientific accounts of reproductive technology and explains how gender stereotypes are hidden with scientific language of biology. Through an analysis on the representation of the egg and the sperm, Martin notes a marked contrast between the descriptions of each reproductive organ. The sperm is commonly illustrated as the superior reproductive organ while the egg is seen as the degenerate and expelling reproductive part. Further, the egg is portrayed to behave “femininely while the sperm behaves “masculinely “as an active participant. It is evident, these illustrations imply typical gender stereotypes and continue to reproduce them through these powerful representations. In addition, implanting of social imagery on representations of nature lays a firm basis for reproducing exactly the same imagery as natural explanations of social phenomena. Implementing socially constructed stereotypes in natural science constitutes a powerful message suggesting these ideas are natural and beyond alteration. Natural science carries a certain value in today’s society and it is often presupposed that what it claims must be true. Therefore if natural science is projecting messages and illustrations that support and enhance social constructions, it is only likely that these ideals will be internalized by society and its individuals. The internalization of socially constructed stereotypes is further reproduced in the ways our bodies behave. Males and females have adapted to occupy their space in different ways. For example, females commonly sit with their legs crossed while males usually sit with their legs spread further apart, therefore occupying more space. It is small subconscious acts such as the ways individual genders carry themselves that portray the internalization of stereotypical notions. Further, gender stereotypes can be influential on the sensory perception. For example, the sense of touch has been historically developed in accordance with gender associations. Females are commonly associated with soft touch while males are commonly associated with a rough or tougher sense of touch. The sensory perception of sound has also been shaped by gender specifications. Loud and harsh sounds carry an underlying male connotation to it, while soft and soothing sounds are often perceived as more feminine. While these associations are not natural, they have been constructed and internalized through the implementation of gender specific stereotypes. Further, as individuals internalize stereotypes, they begin to behave according to these misconceptions ultimately shaping how their bodies operate in space. The process of implementing gender specific stereotypes can have extreme social consequences. It goes beyond the perception of reproductive organs as passive or active. It is the projection of cultural imagery that not only influences our understanding of the world and nature, but influences our actions and behaviors ultimately making them seem as natural. As Martin suggests, it is essential to become aware of the socially constructed imagery that exists as by becoming aware of its implications, we gain the power to de-naturalize the social conventions about gender. However, I view her suggestion somewhat problematic. It becomes questionable whether we can truly de-naturalize social conventions about gender by becoming aware of their implications. If social stereotypes have become so deeply embedded in our culture that they occupy the realm of natural science, can this impact be reversed?

Response 2: The Loss of Hearing

28 Nov

Each and every one of our senses contributes to the way we perceive the world around us. If I were to give up one of my senses, my experiences of the world around me would change forever. The sense I would choose to give up would be the sense of hearing. If I were to lose my sense of hearing it would alter my perception of my external environment and change my internal means of perception. I have spent lifetime learning about the world through categorizing, memorizing and reconnecting my experiences using the sense of sound. If suddenly I was not able to obtain sound memories to support my perceptions and the images around me, my world would lack experience and meaning. I would no longer be able to connect vocal features to personalities, objects and places. The world would become a silent place for me that I would have to learn to live in through the perception of the rest of the sensorium. I would have to learn to feel sound rather than hear it. This idea had me wonder about the study shown in class where deaf people were able to feel beats of music that ultimately had me question what is it like to solely feel music free of actual sound? When I am in a loud place such a nightclub I can feel the music pulsing, vibrating through my body. If I lost my sense of sight would I still feel music the same way?  This thought  has lead me to question, would life really be as silent as I am presuming if I was not able to use my sense of sound?? As explained in An Anthropologist on Mars, it was the gain of a previously lost sense that altered Virgil’s reality to a non-natural perception of the world. He became scared and confused without the necessity of previously essential senses and developed a sense of uncertainty in judgment of space and distance. The gain of sight became a disadvantage for a man who has lived his life blind for the most part therefore life without sight must embody some sense of comfort, it may just be a different sense of comfort than we normally imagine. The loss of sound would ultimately leave me discovering the world all over again. It would be a long process that would require time and patience and becoming more aware and in tune with my other senses. However the final result may not be a life in silence. Life without sight may not be vocally enlightening, but it may be enlightening in so many other ways. I would be drawn to solely rely on the use of sight, touch, taste and scent as a guide to my life. I would often have to overstep the polite social boundaries created by society and explore my surroundings through touch. My sense of taste and scent would become heightened as there would be no vocal distractions to these senses. Finally the already dominant sense of sight would become my primary guide in experiences. Further, as I would explore the sense of movement, free of sound I begin to question what these experiences would be like or more importantly what they would feel like. Vocal sounds would no longer be part of the places and experiences around me. This change may be scary and alarming at time however it may be pleasant and enlightening at others. Life without sound would not be an impossible reality it would simply be a different means of perceiving the world around me.

Reflection 4: Taste

14 Nov

The sense of taste has been historically considered an animalistic sense, placed at the bottom of the Western five-sense model hierarchy. However the various flavors of food have powerful abilities to heighten and stimulate our sensory experiences. As previously encountered, the sense of taste similarly to the sense of sight, sound and scent is historically, culturally and socially constructed. Its meanings and value have been evolving with time. Food and the Senses explains the sense of taste as a process that transmits messages through the experience of various food flavors, textures, colors, temperatures and other visual patterning elements. Taste allows us to distinguish, name and categorize flavors. The sense of taste has the power to trigger memories of familiar places or events while appealing to the rest of our senses, allowing for a multisensory experience. Having analyzed this article and Home for Dinner cooking show, it is evident that taste has the ability to evoke a full body sensual experience. The show is organized in a manner that places emphasis on the ingredients and emphasizes their properties through the use of words such fresh, colorful, ripe and juicy. Further the cook describes the aromas of the food as he deeply inhales closes his eyes allowing the scent to take over. As explained in the article, various foods and flavors are associated with certain social and cultural spaces. When the show first introduced the meal being cooked, it made references to cultural spaces in the world the food is associated with. Along with the food, the cook prepared a peach drink which he emphasized was close to Georgia, his home. The process of cooking as portrayed on the show follows Sutton’s explanation of cooking as a sensual process where the ingredients are chosen, touched and manipulated , assessed by sight, texture, smell, taste and ultimately savored. The experience Jamie Deen presents in the show is gustemological as he portrays cooking as a form of artwork. We often anticipate the taste of food based on how we visualize it. By visualizing food we can almost imagine the taste. This became evident as I engaged in the show, where I found myself imagining the taste of the fish being cooked which almost made my mouth water. Being conscious of my sense of taste I have come to realize that taste is a just as influential and powerful in attaining a sensual experience as any of our other senses. Further, the sense of taste has the ability to evoke emotions and trigger memories. As I watched the ingredients being prepared, I experienced feelings of pleasure and disgust depending on my personal preference or past memories of taste. While my feelings about various tastes dominated my feelings about the meal prepared as a whole, I started to recollect past memories associated with taste of food. Places I visited as well as celebrations or restaurants I have been to were all coming back to me based on the tastes I had experienced in those particular places. As I consciously explored the elements of the cooking show, I started to recognize the union of the senses in a food experience. Synesthesia was implicit as I visualized the food and started to connect to multiple sensory modes in my body. Simply by visualizing the meal I was able to recognize the taste or at least start to imagine it. The sight of lemon juice immediately gave me a sour feeling where I could almost feel it on my tongue, while on the other hand the fluffy couscous cooked on the show made me imagine soft textures dissolving in my mouth. The cooking show is situated in a clean proper kitchen space that ultimately influenced the entire process of taste perception. The space where the ingredients were situated was visually appealing as a result making the food more appealing and ultimately more alluring to my sense of taste. If the space was crowded, messy and overwhelming I believe my perception would be completely different. Throughout my analysis I have come to realize taste is not only spatially structured but structured around the concept of gender as well. As described in the article tastes can be categorized as feminine and masculine consumptions. As James Deen, a male cook and host of the show was preparing a meal for his mother, he emphasized he chose fish as part of his meal because she preferred lighter tastes. Throughout the Western society food tastes are consciously and subconsciously categorized based on gender. It is common to assume males prefer stronger tastes whereas females would more likely enjoy a lighter and sweeter taste. The preference on the sense of taste is individualistic not organized by gender however, it has been embedded in our society and to an extent internalized by individuals of how each gender consumes and perceive taste of food. It is critical to remain conscious of how we perceive the sense of taste and allow ourselves to consider taste as equally important as the other sensory modes. It is crucial to recognize the Western five-sense model however it is essential to move beyond the prescribed social boundaries and question and explore our senses to gain a deeper and more stimulating experience.