OPENLAB Intensive Week 2013: Monday 18 February — A take-away session.

This track contains a guided OPENLAB session meant to happen anytime on Monday 18 of February. Of course, you are free to download it (see link above) and follow the instructions at any other time, or even repeat it as many times as you would like. Please chose a space indoors or outdoors that you think is both safe and comfortable, and both for yourself as well as for other people who may be there. The key is in the idea of respect. Respect yourself. Respect the others. However, you may want to challenge your comfort zone… still there is no reason to force yourself into situations that are not entirely comfortable.

Apart from that, the choice of location is entirely up to you. This is your way expressing what you may be interested in exploring, which environment you think you would like inhabit. You may want to be in an environment that is cosy and tranquil, or go into the wildness of full of stimuli.

Get ready! If you chose an environment without internet access, you may want to download first the track and move to that space afterwards bringing the song with you in an mp3 player or similar.

Remember to thing about things you may need: warm clothes, a person who takes responsibility of your possessions or of your safety, food… I don’t think you will need any special thing. The instructions are vague recommendations and you will be able to deal with them in your own. You can interpret them the best way they suit you also considering what are the needs of the moment and of the space you have chosen. So for example, not having possessions with you or having someone else with you if you do it outside may give you more possibilities for explorations, and maybe you could do it together even.

You don’t need to listen to it before you are going to take the session.

Just find your way around things!

You also can download the track from WeTransfer by following this link:

(This link will expire by 1 March 2013.)




“OPENLAB Intensive Week” or “The Week I Learnt the Word ‘Norovirus'”





The intensive week, so much expected, arrived but a minuscule entity known as norovirus defeated it.

After just 2 days of work I felt extremely bloated after dinner on Wednesday 12 December. What happened after you can deduce by yourselves when you know that norovirus is the technical name given to the winter vomiting bug. The aftermaths took me out of order until last Monday (which means that the open OPENLAB at Agony Art didn’t happen, although it will happen on a next edition in early 2013).

For what I did on the first day of the intensive you can click here to see another post where I talk about it.

I would like to continue here with what I did on the unexpectedly last day of the intensive (Wednesday 12 December).

We had 2 sessions of the intensive:


During the first session we started by doing a slow roll down which would allow us to get in our bodies as well as calm down our minds. Help us to be present. A sort of closeform exercise.

After that we decided to take Chrysa Parkinson’s Art Practice as Ecosystem Questionnaire. We decided to do it in couples and following an interview model; i.e. each person would ask to his or her partner the questions and would write down the answers on his or her partner’s notebook. The idea is that each person would have the answers filtered by another person as a way to minimise your own patterns and possibly getting to know yourself from a different side, a side from which you may not have regular access. I also suggested that each person should take the questionnaire on their own without having read the notes take by the partner first a few days after. The idea was for each person to then compare both sets of answers (if you were there during this session: have you been doing your homework? Allow me to joke about this, you know that there isn’t homework and that it’s entirely up to you whether you would like to continue with this exercise but I thought it would be good to remind people about it nonetheless).


During the second session I facilitated an exercise I had done before with Lisa Nelson at The Conscious Body Meeting in Université Paris 8 last October.

We first followed the exercises faithfully to the one I had done with Lisa except for one difference: I added one extra step. After we stopped for a mini-break, we continue from that extra step I had added to put into practice exercises on sight. The idea was that, if perception is an action, visual perception and the mechanisms involved in the activity of the visual sense can be practiced and trained, and from that practice we could explore in which ways that work with sight may influence our “performing.”

Lisa Nelson’s exercises use different combinations of moving versus stillness with eyes closed versus eyes open. Together with the different combinations possible during the exercise, Lisa would invite us to become self-aware of what it’s happening. It seems the exercise invites you to become aware of the relationships between intention and action and of your own patterns.


Short description of Lisa Nelson exercise:

. Eyes closed / The only instruction is to get physical (this can be understood and interpreted personally) / 5 min.

. Eyes closed / Moving, voluntarily / 3 min. / Whilst doing this asking yourself: “How do I know that this (I’m doing) is moving?”

. Eyes closed / Still, voluntarily / 2 min. / Asking yourself: “How do you know that it is stillness?”

. Alternating between eyes closed whilst moving and eyes open whilst still / Always trying the best you can to keep this combination as a voluntary action / Slowing down the pattern / Speeding up the pattern / Asking yourself: “What’s the order of events? What does happen first? Do I stop moving because I have opened my eyes, or do I open my eyes once I have stopped moving? Do I start moving because I have closed my eyes, or do I close my eyes once I am moving? Does the pattern repeat or is it different each time?”

. At this point I added en extra step or, to be more correct, an extra question: “Bringing the attention to your eyes, what does happen with them when you open them? Can you keep the eyes still? Can you do it at the same time that your body freezes? Pay attention to the motion of the eyeball within the eye socket; pay attention to the motion within the eye at the level of the iris and pupil. If you can’t do that alternatively pay attention of whether the image you perceived as you open the eyes moves or shakes; pay attention of whether the image refocuses once you have open the eyes.”

. Alternating between eyes open whilst moving and eyes closed whilst still / Always trying the best you can to keep this combination as a voluntary action / Slowing down the pattern / Speeding up the pattern / Asking yourself: “What’s the order of events? What does happen first? Do I start moving because I have opened my eyes, or do I open my eyes once I have started moving? Do I stop moving because I have closed my eyes, or do I close my eyes once I have become still? Does the pattern repeats or is it different each time?”


Short description of the exercises with vision:

. Openform throughout the exercise

. Become aware of not only that we see with the eyes but on how we see with the eyes: movement of the eyeball in eye socket, movement of head and neck, movement of all the body; movement in the iris and pupil (focusing)

. Chose an object to look at as you move, change to another object

. Binocular focusing: Use your hand to focus on it, can you attend to the objects you see beyond your hand and which are out of focus? Focus in the objects beyond your hand but keep the hand in between, can you attend to the hand out of focus in front of you?

. Binocular focusing: Focusing on a point in space closer to you than the object in front of you. Focusing on a point in space beyond the object in front of you. You can picture in your “mind’s eye” that point to facilitate. Notice your own body (how does your body feels?) as you focus on an object, somewhere on the space closer to you or somewhere on the space beyond the object

. Monocular focusing: Cover one eye with one hand and repeat the exercises on focusing described in the last two points.

Related posts:


Revisiting “On Coldness”


(I meant to post this as a comment to this other post: OPENLAB session on Wednesday, 5th December 2012 — “On Coldness”; I decided to post it separately as it became a very long “comment”).

Cold. It may be hard to believe it but I found myself exploring this idea of coldness again on Tuesday 11 December.


There are probably several reasons for this. One reason is that although it was the first day of the OPENLAB intensive week, I found myself on my own in the main studio of Chisenhale which was as cold as it is also big. Another explanation is that, for some reason, I feel attracted to the idea of exploring the limits of the mental, physical and biological capacities of the self.


For some reason I found that there is some connection between performing and the states the self enters in such situation at the limit of our capacities.


It is maybe paradoxical because, although I don’t know how to defend the following statement, I also find more and more that there are not differences between performing and life, even in cases of ordinary, simple and unassuming life. However, the exceptionality of cases where the body and the mind are brought to their limits makes life explicitly stated and immensely present. There is probably a satisfaction extracted from this obviousness of the extremes that making things bigger than life are experienced as just life.


Enough from this. I would like to say a few words about my experience exploring the cold environment, focusing in temperature as a way of mapping both the room and my body and focusing on the idea of how far can I ‘take’ it.


On that cold Tuesday I blindfolded myself and I started by doing a Klein Technique bent-over. After that I undressed myself and I explored the room, my body surfaces and cold.


Some ideas that kept on coming during the exploration:


. Cold/Temperature it is a kind of perception that depends immensely on contrast and comparison. I guess all senses are in a way. The physical and temporal objects of perception are experienced depending on what other objects are contiguously placed to them, both in time (objects perceived just before or after; for example, think of the way you feel your body before and after a massage or a somatic class — You may proprioceptively experience a huge difference but actually if you look at yourself in the mirror the difference is not so obvious) and space (objects perceived side by side; for example, think of visual illusions like this one (the bar in the middle of the image is actually made of one colour). The idea of contrast becomes very quickly very evident during the exploration. This, I think, influences also the following idea.


. Cold/Temperature perception is paradoxically both precise and poor. During the exploration I felt like I could start to tell the subtle differences between different ways to perceive temperature from different objects in the room but I also had this sensation that I could not have a judgment about temperature at all. Some examples are:

  1. When touching 2 body parts that had different temperatures (for example the cold hand on the warm torso) was unsettling. First I wouldn’t understand what I was perceiving, then I would perceive that my hand was cold (ouch!) but for a very sharp instant it time, finally I would have a sort of slower and more durable perception that my torso is touching my hand and that the torso is warming it up.


  1. Subtleties amongst the vastness of monotonous cold: The air felt unsettling evenly cold until I felt that I could feel the temperature of the light coming through the windows just very so slightly warmer than the rest of the air and giving me an idea of where I was in the room; all surfaces felt unsettling evenly cold until I felt that the temperature of textiles had a different quality even if probably being the same than the temperature of the floor, and until I found the back brick wall which was extremely cold and that it was cover by a crust of emanating very cold air (so I could say the wall was there even without touching it by just staying almost touching it, feeling the cold air emanating, emanation which I had experienced before only with warm air, how strange!).


  1. The task was mapping and it became very clear to me that it mapping through temperature was very different to mapping through touch. The mapping in this case was much more contained, not mapping very well actually. The explorations of the space was very shy, almost not happening. Also there was the fact that in the end I wanted to confront the tolerance to cold which made me move little and lie down loads. However, I would try to stay with the task of mapping but even then I would bring the focus towards myself more often than towards the space, and even when exploring the space the motivation would be centred on my own body. The movement would come from different ways of exploring how to “choreograph” the stimulations on the body.


  1. I kept on thinking the way of reading temperature could be improved through practice but at the same time the longer it took I couldn’t have a judgment about temperature. It was becoming increasingly confusing: I couldn’t really tell how could my own body was getting. I was able to say that I was getting cold but it wasn’t felt as terrible or painful. It was uncomfortable but no more uncomfortable that wearing a watch for the first time; but the difference is that I know that nothing terrible will happen to me if I continue to wear that watch for the rest of my life whereas I know that sooner or later something will happen to me if I endure coldness being naked whilst lying down on the floor. Sometimes I thought that maybe I wasn’t that cold anymore but then I feel that maybe I’m getting accustomed to it and I can’t really say. The heating was working so, how cold was I really? When I touch my own body I could feel it warm but, how warm was I really?


. One hour and 15 minutes after I started I suddenly felt I wanted to stop. I didn’t think it was because of the cold. I didn’t have an urge but I just knew I wanted to stop. I could have continue with the experiment but surprisingly I suddenly saw myself standing up, removing the blindfold and dressing in less than a minute. As soon as I was dressed I suddenly realised that probably I was colder of what at first I believed. Suddenly discomfort was evident. Hypothermia? There were no signs of it and I doubt I was even close to it.


I won’t be exploring cold for a while I think. However, I think I have an idea for a piece. In summary, not a bad outcome for two days of exploration.