Body, Memory and Creativity in the Arts; 5.-7.9.2008, Jyväskylä

Body, memory and creativity in the arts

The NordForsk network The Bodily Turn: Gender, Gesture and Sensation in
the Arts will meet in Jyväskylä, Finland, 5th - 7th September 2008. Researchers dealing with issues of affectivity, sensations, perception and embodied experience in the arts are hereby invited to join this network meeting. If you have not participated in the network’s meetings before, we ask you to send a short description of your background, affiliation and research interests to the organisers. Due to funding, the number of participants is limited, and we may not be able to accept all those who are interested.

Deadline for enrolment is the 2nd June. Fill in the form (attached) and send it by email to Pauline von Bonsdorff (pauline (a) If you want to present a paper, please include a title and a short abstract. The network will pay travel expenses, board and lodging of PhD students and post docs.

Notification of acceptance and more information will be sent out during the first half of June.

Theme description:
Body, memory and creativity in the arts

The network meeting focuses on our embodied and largely tacit competence as appreciators and creators of art – on what “the body” contributes to our communication with and in art, and to the making of art. Memory and creativity can be conceived as complementary dimensions of embodied perception and agency, where “memory” points to the acquired competencies of the body (the “I can”), both tacit and conscious, and creativity points to the contribution of embodied understanding and skills in carrying out artistic, intellectual and other tasks in original and interesting ways. Clearly, however,  there is a libidinal and non-intentional dimension of bodily agency that cannot very well be described through projects or tasks; a dimension which for that very reason can bring in the unforeseen, the new – and often yet recognisable.

It seems that embodied memory has been more extensively dealt with in earlier research – as bodily techniques and gestures of different cultures, as the sedimentation of embodied knowledge that enables us to understand the feel of represented spaces and situations, or simply our knowing how to perform physical tasks. Embodied creativity has been less discussed although it is a rising theme in studies of music, dance and theatre, particularly when the perspective is that of the performer. If this is true, it may mirror the mind-body dualism that tends to make the body into a platform of agency rather than including it in agency, while the mind is valued as the true origin of thinking and feeling.

Invited speakers (confirmed):

Henrik B. Andersen was a professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Art from 1999 - 2008, where he also was head of the department of sculpture (Billedhuggerskolen Frederiksholms Kanal). Through the years he created a department where questions of movement, space, knowledge, concept and the frame stood in the centre. Different artists, such as Superflex, AVPD, Randi & Katrine, Julie Nord and Søren Lose are all the products of this school. In 2008 Andersen will start as a professor at the Art Academy in Vilnius. As an artist works with dynamic relationships between form and space, often in ways that involve the spectator both physically and cognitively.

Mark B.N. Hansen (Professor, Department of English Language and Literature and Committee on Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago). In his research, Hansen has argued that experience has been largely left out of humanist studies of technology, which tend to “overlook the non-representational, experiential, and massively diffuse impact of technologies on social and cultural life”. Hansen’s approach is to analyse the theoretical and technical significance of the digital revolution through the work of new media artists, architects, and literary authors, emphasising the affective, intimate and deeply embodied character of experiencing the digital image. His work draws together 20th century phenomenology and continental philosophy, recent cognitive (neuro)science, and (neo-)cybernetic discourses. Books include Embodying Technesis: Technology Beyond Writing (University of Michigan, 2000), New Philosophy for New Media (MIT, 2004), Bodies in Code: Interfaces with New Media (Routledge, 2006) as well as the Cambridge Companion to Merleau-Ponty (co-editor, 2005).

Soili Hämäläinen (Ph.D, lecturer, Theatre Academy, Finland) was appointed the first head of the Dance Department at the Theatre Academy of Finland in 1983. She was also among the founding faculty of the Department of Dance and Theatre Pedagogy of the Theatre Academy in 1996. Her teaching interests include improvisation, dance pedagogy and dance research. She has studied the teaching and learning processes involved in choreography and explored ethical questions concerning dance teaching and evaluation in a dance class. She has focused on the meaning of bodily knowledge, sensations and feelings as a source in a creative process. At the moment she is interested in collaboration in artistic work.  She has published several articles on these topics.

Vivian Sobchack (Professor Emerita, Department  of Film, Television, and Digital Media, University of California Los Angeles, former Associate Dean at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.). In The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience (1992) and Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture (2004) Sobchack has explored the significance of embodiment in our experience of film but also more generally in perceptual experience. In addition to embodiment, her research interests include American film genres, philosophy and film theory, history and phenomenology of perception, historiography, and cultural studies. Her books also include An Introduction to Film (1987) and Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film (1987). She has edited two anthologies: The Persistence Of History: Cinema, Television And The Modern Event (1996) and Meta-Morphing: Visual Transformation And The Culture Of Quick Change (2000). Sobchack was the first woman elected president of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies and is on the Board of Directors of the American Film Institute.