interpretation of body language when the body is invisible

During this weeks lecture I was really interested in how similar the different postures that Dr Deborah showed us were to some of the asanas that are part of my yoga practice. I find it very interesting that something such a body language and meditation, something that has been around and practiced since, well since forever, is something that seems so revolutionary to academics. And it got me thinking about the concept of ‘new age’ being the most ridiculous term from something so old. Aside from my own cynicism I am a huge fan of body language and movement being implemented into education both in terms of expanding students repertories of language but also in terms of bringing meditational practice into lectures as a means for prolonging students attentions and therefore deepening the understanding.

I also was very interested in the idea of body movement in terms of interpretation in a modern technologically driven world. I was reminded of a tv series called, “ lie to me”. A series that follows a doctor who specializes in particular body movement and ticks such as facial muscular recognition as a way to decipher if people are lying.

I got to thinking about how very primitive a skill like that type of observational science must be. Because body language was the first language like with the primates that we watched in the beginning of the lecture that used their body language as a way of establishing trust with other primates. So, then how do we establish trust, even in the most primitive sense, in a world where the body itself is invisible? How can we know we have a friend or how to protect ourselves from potential foes? Furthermore, how can we decipher when one is lying or being deceitful? How do we use our gut ‘feelings’ in a technological space? If our gut feelings have evolved to protect us in the physical world, where does ‘a gut feeling’ fit into a digital world? Where do the nuances involved in expressions, vocal fry, movement and tone fit when the body is invisible?

For example, how do we know when someone is joking v. being serious via text? Or how do we know if a person on a dating website is being honest? Which got me thinking about the potential shifts in seduction in a digital world and how our brains are keeping up with a level of communication that is both incredibly fast and untouchable and the types of indexical language, i.e. emoji that have become so prevalent in digital social media.

mostly this topic got me thinking about lost languages and wondering where do languages go when they die? do they just evolve into new languages that are relevant or can they, more importantly will they be reborn in new forms of technology?

leslie ewen


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