2018 ~ Sunday April 22: Roaming Assembly#21 ~ CRACKING THE MOULD ~ by Alex Murray-Leslie
Ready to Foot: Decolonising the feet through Demaking High Heeled shoes for audiovisual theatrical performance and a new location of knowledge
The feet play the role of support structures or even infrastructure for the rest of the body, especially for the hands. The hands, the head and the eyes are the glorified organs of vision, manipulation, tactility and calculation and the feet are a kind of infrastructural support that philosophers never bothered to speak about that much. The feet are colonised by the body, so in that sense this research aims to decolonise that hierarchy that has formatted the body as this and elevated the hand at the expense of the feet. We can use our feet for more than just walking around and some people actually develop extraordinary dexterity with their feet, not only using them to do everyday tasks, but even activities like painting or playing an instrument. Through training, it is possible for the feet to carry out complex creative tasks, beyond their normal everyday job as 'stepping machines’ (Ingold 2003). The theme of 'knowledge at foot’ and objects being ‘ready to foot’ is discussed in the form of a performance lecture. 'Knowledge at foot’ relates to situations where the feet are the location of the generation of new knowledge, contrary to ideas expressed by Martin Heidegger who proposed that objects may be experienced in two different ways as ‘ready to hand’ and ‘present at hand’ (Heidegger 1962). Via practice based research and the creation of artefacts (termed Anthropotechnological foot-prototypes and computer enhanced footwear) this unfree state of the feet is challenged through finding unexpected ways to use the feet in newly designed computer enhanced footwear. These foot devices use new technologies coupled with sensors and FM sound synthesis, and therefore afford new types of bodily extensions for creative expression. The praxis explores the development of foot based skills in the area of audio-visual theatrical performance and the related creation of audio-visual instruments created to costume and decolonise the feet.