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While we experience Art/ Sports, do we feel connected to something Large? Why?

Back to Issue | February 2021

While we experience Art/ Sports, do we feel connected to something Large? Why?

We are surrounded by strangers, bombarded with cheering/booing, yet we enjoy the live performance/ game show than watching on a TV or a social media platform. We lose ourselves and feel connected to something larger. How does this happen?

Social Connection is the strength of Homo-sapiens. We are social creatures and are attuned to the emotions and actions of people around us. Social connection is a key function of our brain. With our brain’s capacity to perceive and interpret emotions and empathy, we understand and discover meaning even in wordless art of dance. The brain is highly stimulated by motion, body language, facial expressions and gestures. We are not only visually pulled towards the movement of others, but we feel them in small ways.

When we watch an artist perform or a player in the field, we experience a little upsidaisy. According to the Mirror Neurons theory, our brain automatically mimics other people’s action through its motor system. We map other people’s action in our somatosensory system. We respond to the magnetism of specific visual cues and experience heightened emotions and even bonding with those around us.

Space is of greater significance and has larger literature compared to “Time”. When actions are carried out in the presence of others, in the brain of the doer there is an area of few square millimeters that lights up and an identical few square millimeter lights up in the others. This is addressed as “Shared space of action”. When an artist/ a player executes a motivated, conscious action with a precise aim, we could say that in a certain area of the brain “the motor programe” is put into action, making it possible to execute the action. I would say that when this activity occurs in the area of the artist’s/player’s brain, the same activity occurs in the same brain area of those facing them constantly independently of the will of actor and the spectator provided the action is executed with intention. It is that intention that the brain of others pick up. Apart from the social experience of going to the theatre/ the field and the sense of expectation that may develop in a live setting, we have to focus on another elusive difference which is the impact of the dancer’s/player’s live presence on the spectators’ experience.

While the video recording and the digital media captures the game/ performance in terms of its appearance in time and space, there remains the frequently articulated feeling that something is lost in the process: the very presence of the performer/player. Co-presence experience and empathetic abilities are linked. At least to some degree depending on the type of performance/game both proximity and co-presence affects spectators’ enjoyment.

References:

1) Theatre and cognitive neuroscience-Clelia Falletti, Gabriel Sofia,Victor Jocano

2) https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/lifestyle/your-brain-on-art/

Lavanyaa Surendar

Dancer/ Curator/ Arts & Cultural Director/ Committed to developing a happy community through Arts. Ultimately to contribute to shaping the future of arts + culture, creating space for new creative processes, new ways of storytelling, new voices and developing artistic talent in a new virtual world, Lavanyaa is committed to innovation and revolution of the arts sector for the benefit of all.

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