THE PHYSICAL PRACTICE OF ECOSOCIAL DESIGN
Alan Waxman, November 6, 2016
As carpentry, stonework, and measured drawing is to architecture, or gardening and painting is to landscape architecture; there is a physical practice to ecosocial design: dancing, singing, and meditation (breathing.)
The "freestyle cipher" is a ring of singers/dancers dynamically engaged with an energy/context/topic; demonstrating and becoming it together; becoming a living topography. As new singers/ dancers enter the field they must resonate with present movement, form, and intent rhythmically, but also bring their own presence, morphing the body of the whole, now leading it, now following it; flowing. This, with periods of stillness, is the practice over time.
To sing and dance, both disciplines of breath, is always done with others, starting with the intimate other - one's own body - and from there radiating outwards to incorporate other people through sitting and breathing together, partner dancing, circles, ciphers, and group dancing and singing.
"Laying on hands" may appear to be the skill of the ecosocial designer. But many chroniclers have only noted the charismatic moment of laying on hands that resuscitates the patient, without considering all the other work of the ecosocial designer - the work in time and space as rituals resonate and build into rhythms of context. These may appear to culminate in that one poignant and memorable dance of spectacle, "laying on hands," but there are many dances with others in the overall plan of the ecosocial cycle.
Practice is always real-time. To use architectural language - our building models are our dancing selves, our interaction, our song. In terms of painting - our bodies are our canvas, our feelings are our paints that become the movements and energies of our bodies. Our choreography, the "writing of the choir," is our chorography, the "writing of space/place/region." We become drawings as we draw out our immaterial imaginings into our material presence and in this way function and resonate with our landscapes, culminating in small moments and larger celebrations.
So the ecosocial designer must cultivate his sensitivity and vision - the ability to see the actual flows of the larger landscape over various projective scales, imagining a project and seeing every step in the process as it may unfold to register the most resonance - but he or she must also practice personal bodily discipline of his own ability to sing and dance - to command his own energy and presence. This is not about the "power" of presence as when a great dancer (or an extremely ill person) walks into a room and his or her energy is felt. Rather, it is the ability for a person to engage others in clear ways, to communicate and receive a variety of emotions to and from a large or small number of people in the context.
Movement, breath, and song deployed in this way is about the focus and clarity of message- ecosocial design requires not simply an expression of self, like a scream, but a dynamic engagement of openness with others, an instantaneous personal integration of data into oneself, translation, and continuation of the collective narrative, pushing it further towards the collective vision. Empathy then is an essential part of the practice, in absorption and openness to another's pain, softening the heart, and in sharing one's own energy in the process, growing the heart. This practice becomes ecosocial when the heart is extended into the body, and the body into other bodies, eventually resonating with the landscape as a whole.
"there is a physical practice to ecosocial design: dancing, singing, and meditation (breathing)...
becoming a living topography"
"our choreography, the 'writing of the choir,' is our chorography, the 'writing of space/place/region"
"ecosocial design requires not simply an expression of the self, like a scream, but a dynamic engagement of openness with others"