March 12, 2019

Empathic Scoring: On Shaping Etheric Matter

In response to Session 1, March 5

We began by orienting to the environment, priming ourselves to sense (and respond to) physical and etheric material — challenging, as Keith Hennessy put it, the colonial assertion of spatial emptiness. Through a series of embodiment exercises, Keith created a container that centralized play as a key component to initiating consensual experimentation and negotiating relational decisions. The exercises were followed by a lecture from Kanyon CoyoteWoman Sayers-Roods (Mutsun-Ohlone, California Native) who led us through Indigenous protocols, grounding the collective with vital context and intention. Rooted in recognition of Indigenous sovereignty and the sovereignty of this unceded land, I was eager to explore the textures of my autonomy and to honor the self-determination of others. The body is an entry point for decolonial praxis. How we negotiate space and contact matters.

Next was an invitation to empathy scoring: an intimate duet for the emotionally adventurous, in which neither party fully leads or follows. Moments into engaging with this form of movement-based negotiation and relational mapping, I was reminded of the emotional and rhythmic entrainment (and subsequent transformation) I’ve undergone in my own practice as a musician. Through an exercise that engaged my whole body as a listening organ, I experienced, in that moment, tectonic shifts in relational trust forged through the alchemy of reciprocity.

Composer and philosopher Pauline Oliveros described the practice of Deep Listening as a form of meditation that attunes us to internal and external landscapes. This practice alerts us to frequencies and invisible entities that shape our consciousness of and relationship to ourselves, our environment, and each other. Undulating between the tautness of dissonance and the yield of consonance, I witnessed my inner experiences mirrored in and welcomed by others, and was ushered through energetic exchanges that brought me closer to my full resonance. If colonization necessitates the arrogant supposition that spaces can be emptied — cleared — then perhaps decolonized practice involves engaging with the etheric and energetic material that suggests otherwise.

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