Corporeal Encounters with Farmscapes
Paper in proceedings, 2017
The past decade has produced a thriving archive of urban farming examples and enthusiastic urban inhabitants implementing food gardening in the Global North. Despite all collected knowledge and skills, there still exists a distance between awareness and more extensive committed action. This slow uptake calls for furthering the boundary of alternate methods in urban-making in which artistic research can expand spatial imaginations that trigger experiential ecological awareness and becoming. This paper explores methods which aim to traverse this gap by employing the body as a main tool of inquiry. How can we enable and set up modes of curiosity-driven encounters that activate ecological awareness and imaginaries which transform into a methodology for exploring new delicious urban fictions to live by?
In using artistic research approaches, there is potential to encounter urban food issues by setting up different spatial relations with nature in the city that activate deeper commitments to the environment and go beyond local food movements and surface tactility. An underlying experiential 'thickness' exists in the corporeal-to-space relation that needs exploration as it can motivate an ecological place attachment to these farmscapes that flies under practice and theory radars. This paper presents the case study 'Organoleptic Interfaces' to exemplify three modes of inquiry through its interfaces. The first mode, ‘Paperscapes’, includes a making-knowledge workshop delving into Masanobu Fukuoka's natural farming theory. A second methodology utilizes performance to disseminate such knowledge to a wider unassuming audience. The third approach deepens the visceral practice with a Butoh choreography workshop exploring embodied and sensorial understandings of ecological practice. The case is accompanied by a short film essay that is appended to this paper.
Results include an assortment of reformulated embodied methodologies for curating a corporeal politics and poetics in ecological urban-making around farmscapes, and an extended curiosity that has potential to reach wider urban audiences. Artistic research has the ability to stage surprises and an awareness that might not be found with normative practice and theory. We eat daily and the body is a fundamental untapped resource in the way that we live in and treat urban contexts.