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Senses of Embodiment: Art, Technics, Media

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Edited By Mika Elo and Miika Luoto

This volume is a collection of essays that presents both theory- and practice-based approaches to questions concerning the embodiment of sense.
Exploring the opening of meaning in sensible configurations, the texts also address the medial structures – at once aesthetic, bodily and technical – that condition our access to whatever makes sense to us.
The texts show in various ways how these phenomena call for trans-disciplinary research, and how theoretical or philosophical questioning gains from the experimental possibilities of artistic research.
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The Dancing Body and Creative Expression: Reflections Based on Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology: Anna Petronella Foultier

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The Dancing Body and Creative Expression: Reflections Based on Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology1

ANNA PETRONELLA FOULTIER

When a dancer performs a choreography, her body appears as a particular, living human body, but it also carries a meaning that distinguishes her performance as dance, as a work of art. The meaning or signification brought about by the dancing body has rarely been addressed in the history of philosophy, and only recently have researchers begun to consider it to be a theme worthy of philosophical interest.2

In Phenomenology of Perception, Maurice Merleau-Ponty gives a phenomenological characterization of the living body as a work of art;3 here, meaning in general – not only the meaning of the body but also that of art and signs – is understood as an incarnated phenomenon. In his later writings, Merleau-Ponty furthermore attempts at understanding linguistic meaning by comparing it with meaning in art – in painting, poetry, and music.4 In my view, his ideas open towards an understanding of the signification of the dancing body, although the French phenomenologist himself mentions the art of dancing only in passing. For Merleau-Ponty, le corps propre – the living body or body-proper – is a moving and perceiving bodily subject, which as such constitutes the very site of expression: ← 103 | 104 → “the body is eminently an expressive space”.5 Therewith, the body-proper is the basis for the creation of new meaning, but also for knowledge and rational practices in general. Hence, I believe we can find in Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy...

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