Human/Machine Interactions

Like social groups, complex machines are constituted by various inter-related parts, each of which fulfills a specific function, contributing to the whole. In this session, students have the opportunity to consider these inter-related actions, to transfer the actions to bodily movements, to demonstrate movement material for others in the class, to cooperate with others to produce a collaborative result, and to reflect on the relationship of the body to a machine.

Classroom Activities

Analyze: Describe some of the examples garnered from the observation assignment. Consider what kind of physical action is required in order for a person to use the machine in each of the examples.

Move: Take turns selecting one example and isolating and demonstrating the movement from the selected example (without identifying the machine). Ask others to characterize the physical relationship demonstrated between this person and the imagined machine:STREB: Revolution

  • What kind of action does this machine require?
  • Is a great deal or a small amount of force necessitated?
  • What body parts are most involved in the action?
  • What are the pathways and directions involved in this action?
  • Try to identify what machine is involved in each example.

Discuss: What is the nature of the relationship implied by each of these human/machine partnerships?

Collaborate: In groups of four or five, create a repeatable movement sequence composed of the materials generated from the three observed actions each member has contributed. Each member should teach her/his movements to the group; the group task is to organize and combine these individual movements in order to create a complex group “machine.” In keeping with the definition of a machine, each individual action should appear to initiate the next action. When each group shares their composition with the rest of the class, ask viewers to pay attention to:

  • Type(s) of effort needed to do the job
  • Amount of space covered in personal and general space
  • Spatial pathways
  • Large and small movement
  • Body level
  • The rhythm of the actions
  • Shapes made
  • Repeating patterns

Write: Compose a reflective paragraph about the ways in which your body resembles machines. Then write another paragraph discussing whether this correspondence is a good thing or not.

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