4 May 2007
Inner Space, Outer Space, Hyperspace, Cyber Space…. Which meme has captured our current kinesthetic imagination? Or to put it another way, what relevance does the image of the floating spaceman in Outer Space have for those of us falling out bed, into our cars or onto a surfboard as the sun rises? What vivid import does the idea of the human body wafting towards Earth’s moon’s surface have for our bodies recreated daily as avatars maneuvering around virtual space?
Nearly a month ago, I had the chance to attend the 23th National Aerospace Symposium held at the swanky Broadmoor Hotel tucked into foothills of the Rockies in Colorado Springs. Finding my way through the sea of big bodies negotiating big deals that will redefine space travel and missile defense in this century, I had a chance meeting with the consummately gracious educator, Gerald Miller, the director of the EVA. EVA –- Extra Vehicular Activities — is a special research unit within United Space Alliance that prepares astronauts for the surprising, multi-sensory, perceptual experiences they will encounter when they step into “outer space.” Given the non-gridded, spatial orientation presumed by somatic practitioners of trapeze antics or restorative movement practices like Continuum or SpaceSuit Yoga, I proceeded to pose to Mr. Miller, a series of comparative questions I’ve had regarding teaching astronauts how to reorganize sensing patterns to accommodate moving in zero gravity fields of space. I soon learned that even in zero gravity, a 350 pound spacesuit, on top of body weight, is a helluva lot of mass to maneuver while figuring out in gridless space, which way is up, down, left and right. For the surfers reading this blog, astronauts, like boardies, must develop their “Spidey senses” and the chance for the novice astronaut, like the novice surfer, to “wash out” in not uncommon. (The life-threatening implications of washing out in outer space carry comparative import).
The metaphor of aerospace travel, growing out of nautical science, points to our desire to “star sail:” To travel into the sparkling depths of the universe, far from terra ferma, is a long held human dream. The closest many of us will come to obtaining that dream, at least in the immediate future, will be to learn to engage the somanautic potential that is innate to the human body as it exists gravitationally on Planet Earth.* SpaceSuit Yoga is one of those movement practices that is dedicated to encouraging the somanautic potential. (Somanutics, taught by Gil Hedley, is a dissection training practice dedicated to a similar end.)
In weeks to come, I hope to interview Gerald Miller about the comparative kinesthetics of astronautics and somanautics, and place that interview in the space of this blog. Will keep you posted!
*The chance to simulate moving in outer space was recently tested by the reknown Stephen Hawking.
(See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6594821.stm) For those interested in Zero Gravity Space Tunnel opportunities, tunnel experiences will be offered at the upcoming conference on transhumanism in Chicago. (Click on http://transvision2007.com)