MODES OF DWELLING

 

In States and Territories, the modes of dwelling describe the ways that humans come to inhabit the environments in which they learn. This notion of dwelling, however, involves much more than the occupation of pre-fabricated structures, regardless of whether those structures are considered ‘natural’ or ‘cultural’ constructions. 

Dwelling signifies ‘the immersion of beings in the currents of the lifeworld without which such activities of designing, building and occupation could not take place at all’ (Ingold, 2011, p. 10). The notion of dwelling can come to encompass ‘the whole manner in which one lives one’s life on the earth’, in the sense that ‘I dwell, you dwell’ becomes identical to ‘I am, you are’ (p. 185). From the dwelling perspective, all human construction of buildings, machines, environments, knowledge and even identities is circumscribed within dwelling, rather than dwelling being circumscribed within construction. This reversal of Cartesian logic means that ‘the forms people build, whether in their imagination or on the ground, arise within the current of involved activity, in the specific relational contexts of their practical engagement with their surroundings’ (p. 186). Heidegger deftly summarises the dwelling perspective in his assertion that ‘only if we are capable of dwelling, only then can we build’ (cited in Ingold, 2000, p. 186, italics in original). From the perspective of dwelling, it is impossible for people to import plans, ideas, representations and designs into the world to solve problems, because that very world ‘is the homeland of their thoughts’ (Merleau-Ponty, cited in Ingold, 2000, p. 186). In short, humans are always entangled in a world that is already inhabited by multiple others, and mediated by multiple technologies.  Only because they already dwell in this world can humans possibly think the thoughts that they do, learn what they learn, and therefore participate in the mutual construction and destruction of that very world.

 

            Adopting a dwelling perspective of ‘human-in-environment’ (rather than ‘self-contained individual’) holds significant implications for the sustainable development of learning environments in the 21st century, in which the boundaries between biological, cultural and material development begin to dissolve.  Development, in this sense, is not limited to what is physically built or what is culturally constituted. Instead development refers to what is materially, biologically and culturally grown through the evolution of thought and also of practice within the learning environment as a cultural landscape. The learning environment becomes a realm that exists both outside and inside of the human body, a common world which is always already inhabited by multiple others (Whatmore, 2002). Changes in the geologic and biological conditions of the learning environment alter the possibilities of what humans can think and do. At the same time, changes in human thinking and techno-cultural practices permanently tilt the material conditions of the landscape, as with the explosion of the first atomic bomb. The modes of dwelling thus presents different ways of orientating the human + environment towards ‘the material flows and currents of sensory awareness within which both ideas and things reciprocally take shape’ (Ingold, 2011, p. 10).

 

 

Embodiment-Moving

 

Embodiment is at once a common human experience of being alive as a human body, and at the same time a singular and ultimately unshareable experience of being alive in this body, in this time, in this place (Ellsworth, 2005, p. 166). This paradox of embodiment, its fundamental universality and absolute singularity, sits at the core of everything we know and everything we do, and yet remains an existential dilemma: ‘we are at the same time profoundly alone and profoundly connected to one another’ (p. 167). This tension between the shared space of the knowable and the singular dimensions of embodiment gives rise to the transitional movements and sensations associated with the experience of learning and the production of new knowledge. For Ellsworth (p. 168), learning is literally located in the paradoxical phenomenon of embodiment: every body can learn, but every body learns differently. From this materialist and pragmatic perspective, we are only able to learn through the singular movements, affects and sensations that our bodies are capable of undergoing (Massumi, 2002). Learning becomes a ‘biological and molecular event’, in which ‘bodies have affective, somatic responses as they inhabit a pedagogy’s time and space’ (Ellsworth, 2005, p. 4). Embodiment as learning thus involves taking up and laying down space through ‘a continuous, unfolding movement’, and taking up and laying down time through the persistence of a body’s singular becoming (p. 4).

 

If embodiment is defined as a universal and singular becoming associated with the learning and sensing self, then movement is the associated practice which actualises this principle in everyday life. Drawing on Gibson’s (1979) work in ecological psychology, Ingold (2011) argues that sensory perception is fundamentally grounded in movement, as opposed to cognition. ‘Perception’. Ingold (p. 11) writes, ‘is the achievement not of the mind in a body, but of the whole organism as it moves about in its environment, and … what it perceives are not things as such but what they afford for the pursuance of its current activity.’ This again presents a pragmatic and material account of learning as a series of movements and gestures which develop the skills and techniques of attunement and correspondence within a sensory learning environment. In other words, embodiment involves the movement of an organism within the environment, a movement which can be succinctly described as a ‘line of becoming’ (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987, p, 223). These bundles and tangles of life lines, these ‘longitudinal trajectories of materials and awareness’, generate the intricate meshwork that comprises the texture of a lifeworld (Ingold, 2011, p. 14). Learning to weave and navigate the mesh of the lifeworld is the task of both the dweller and the student of a lifeworld, such that these terms become interchangeable: to study a lifeworld is to inhabit it, and to inhabit a lifeworld is to study it (ibid).

 

In the dyadic praxis of embodiment-moving, embodiment can simply describe the singular and universal experience of moving through the learning environment as a lifeworld. It is important to recognize the embodied nature of learning as an experience which is always moving through specific places and times. It is also helpful to attend to the way that walking changes how we think and experience our bodies, and also affects our sensory awareness of the lifeworlds we are moving through.

 

 

Emplacement-Mapping

 

Recent work in anthropology and geography has taken up the concept of emplacement to incorporate the mind, body, culture and environment within a single category of analysis (Howes, 2005; Pink, 2008). The concept of emplacement accounts for the sensuous, material and affective interrelationships between people, places, things and ideas as they exist in a lifeworld (Howes, 2005, p. 7). Emplacement, in this sense, is always material, biological and cultural at the same time, and describes the ‘bundle of sensory and social values contained in the feeling of “home”’ (ibid). While emplacement retains the property of singularity as a phenomenon, it lacks the universality of embodiment as a concept: everyone has a body, but not everyone has a home. The other side of emplacement is displacement, the feeling that one has no home and is experientially disconnected from one’s social and ecological environment. Indeed, a sensitive and robust process of decolonization may be necessary for emplacement to even begin to occur in a given learning environment as ‘contact zone’ (Pratt, 1991). Emplacement can thus be understood as a forward extension of embodiment through what Massumi (cited in Stengers, 2005, p. 183) refers to as ‘social technologies of belonging’. Emplacement then becomes speculative and future-orientated rather than nostalgic for a time and place in which humans felt more at home in the world. This opens the door for a tentative notion of progress through speculative emplacements within a regional ecology of diverse ontologies and practices. Braidoti’s (2013) vision of the posthuman ‘multiversity’ contributes to this visioning of future emplacement, in which the university might become a cultural hub for the wild proliferation of new technologies, social formations and metaphysical experiments. The multiversity to come may be less interested in emplacement as it does or does not exist as such, but rather in the new emplacements which may become possible through technologies of belonging and imagination.

 

One such technology of belonging is that of cartography, or non-representational mapping and map-making (Thrift, 1996; Ingold, 1993; Deleuze & Guattari, 1987). Such cartographies are founded on the premise that science, art and other human endeavors don’t create representations of reality, but are rather particular kinds of practices that are experimentations with reality. They are real things going on amidst other real things going on. Deleuze and Guattari (1987) make the distinction between the ‘tracing’ as a self-enclosed representation of the world, and the map (or ‘carte’) that is ‘entirely orientated toward an experimentation with the real...’ (p. 12). The map, in this sense, is a multi-layered and interconnected network of people, places, things and ideas which is ‘open and connectable in all of its dimensions; it is detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification’ (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987, p. 12). These maps always offers multiple entryways for improvised performances of possible worlds, rather than for the predetermined demonstration of competence offered by the tracing. This is not to say that tracings (such as photographs, interviews or illustrations) are to be patently avoided, but rather that ‘the tracing should always be put back on the map’ to preserve the integrity of the cartography (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987, p. 13, italics in original). In other words, the ‘findings’ of a scientific study or the ‘resolution’ of an artwork are always put back onto the map that keeps the process of creation open to further movements and extensions, rather than being presented as definitive representations of empirical truth, material evidence or resolved aesthetic form.

 

In the dyadic praxis of emplacement-mapping, emplacement can simply describe the relationships between people, places, things and ideas as we map their unfolding possibilities and potentials.  It is important to remember that we are not mapping things as they exist now, but rather as they may become in the future. In mapping the potential for new ways of being and knowing with others and the Earth, we are also creating new possibilities for what can be thought and acted upon in the present. It is also important to remember to put all your tracings back on the map, whether they are photos, writings, drawings, diagrams, or other artefacts which you create while walking the network.