BODY POSTURES – Issues for Design -1

Post 603 by Gautam Shah 

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Posturing is using own body limbs and sensorial nodes in a coordinated manner vis-a-vis another person or groups of persons, elements of space or environmental effects. To avoid frequent posturing, one can also reposition the objects, reshape the surroundings, change the environment. One can also force recast of the sensorial connections with other beings or group through avoidance or engagement.

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A winter party ART by Utagawa Toyoharu (1735-1814) Wikipedia image

Postures are body positions that one adopts, voluntarily or unconsciously. These are to accommodate effects of gravity, exert the body for movement or resist it, to reach-out or drawback or for exploiting the environmental effects. Postures are required for change in the position and orientation of the body, relaxation, transition, exercise, activities, conducting tasks, communication and interaction. One uses body postures with and without the tools, amenities and facilities.

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Conversation > ART by Arnold Borisowich Lakhovsky 1935

Postures have many variations within a basic position. The variations are micro changes of the body that help tune in sensorial perceptions (including communication and expression). Postures create empathetic and confirming images. Certain body positions, patterns and movements suggest specific emotions. Postures directly and abstractly convey the state of interpersonal relationships, social standing, personality traits such as confidence, submissiveness, and openness, current emotional state and temperament.

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Shiva Tandav Dance at Belur Halebidu India > Wikipedia image by Soham Banerjee (& Flickr image by Redtigerxyz)

Body postures are part of exercises and performing arts, in static or dynamic forms. Exercises are self conducted or assisted by person, tools or machines. The postural exercises are for Endurance (breathing and pulse-heart rates), Strength (muscles, postural capacity), Flexibility (stretch and increase muscular capacities) and Balance (safety and removing inhibitions). Yoga exercises, are dynamic consisting of sequential postures with transitory posers, or static meditative one with controlled mental activity and regulated breathing. Chinese body posture exercises Tai Chi also have sequences of postures but all connected by transitory movements rather than posers. Prayer postures have very little transitory positions and are less exercising. Postures in performing arts are linked to music and speech (recitation), and so have rhythmic change. The posturing is one seamless continuity of deliberate movements aided by gestures with breathing. Postures are also used for offensive, defensive and non-involvement purposes (Parades, martial arts).

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Tai Chi exercise > Wikipedia image by Rudolph A furtado

Postures are static, transient or part of the movement. For static postures the body remains in same position but limbs are or sensorial nodes are aligned through change in orientation or metal attention. Transient postures occur as shift position between two postures. The transient position may ignore the gravity or safety risks as it is for a short period. Postures that are part of the movement are for the reach in space (walking, running, dancing etc.). Movements occurring with frequent changes in orientation are not stable, but often exhilarating.

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Defensive-Offensive postures > Wikipedia image by Shi Deru (aka Shawn Xiangyang Liu)

Postures are axially balanced or skewed. Balanced postures are mirror-image (congruent) postures, such as equally posed two feet, two hands, etc., or are normal like the frontal face, upright torso, erect neck, straight eye level, etc. Skewed postures reflect a readiness to transfer to another posture, due to shift in interest or saturation of boredom. Both, the balanced and skewed postures, can be unstable and cannot be maintained for a very long period.

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Zero gravity postures > Flickr image by Steve Jurvetson

Active movements are produced by own muscles to move body’s part, whereas passive movements are made by an outside force, and without the effort by the person. In both cases the distance, speed, and direction are important. Gravity related movements are of three types: parallel, against or towards the gravity. Of these, towards the gravity movements are passive, because these can be made without muscle activity. Other passive movements are like the reverting positions, where a stretched muscle ‘relaxes’ to its normal position. The aid of tools amenities, facilities, structures, etc., are required for passive movements. Infirm and aged people rely on these when their own muscles become weak or are incapacitated. Physiotherapists use passive movements to regain the muscle power. Socially any assistance for active movement hurts personal pride. Similarly physically disabled people do not prefer facilities marked as passive movement’s for them.

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Aided posture by a physiotherapist > Flickr image by DFID – UK Department for International Development

A posture often requires support, aid, or simply a physical closeness (as an assurance) of tools, amenities, facilities and structural elements. Support structures may not be versatile enough to provide all the required proficiencies. Some degree of personal adjustments is required to achieve the intended purpose. To attain and continue the posture, one needs support from other means. Real supports are like: tools (walking sticks, shoes, etc.), amenities and facilities (architectonic elements, equipments, furniture, furnishings, etc.). Virtual supports are abstract: such as the required environmental conditions and psychological sureties that in need these are available in the vicinity.

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Doug Collins, Coach of Philadelphia > Wikipedia image by Keith Allison ( Flickr image by Collins)

Gestures are voluntary or involuntary micro articulations of the body limbs and sensorial nodes (such as eyes, lips, skin, etc.). These are for expressions, directional perception, metabolic functions and other physiological reactions. Gestures include small moves of the head, face, eyes and nose (winking, nodding, twitching of nose, or rolling of eyes) and hands. Gestures are used to supplement the communication, but could be, either dependent or independent of the speech. Speech-independent gestures have a direct verbal translation, though often very abstract. A wave hello or peace signs are examples of speech-independent gestures. Gestures such as dance Mudra represent very abstracted information that is relevant to a culture specific group.

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SPACE PERCEPTION and ILLUMINATION

by Gautam Shah  ➔

The space and environment mould each other, and jointly define a process of perception. Perception of space and environment helps to know about position, context, constancy of things, and features, postures, and gestures of inhabitants’. Perception of space and environment helps in improvising our expression and communication, and thereby our behaviour. Here two processes are considered vital: How a person will perceive others, and How others will sense the person?

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A strong back illumination makes it difficult to perceive a Chair-person’s features and gestures

The position of a person, in terms of the body posture, visibility, stability or consistency and the background context, etc., are issues how others sense him or her. Similarly a person trying to project self must be aware of the perceiver’s distance, angles of connection, social dependency and postural condition. The process of perception is a two-way affair.

Position of a person relative source of illumination is a very important consideration for Space Planning.

In a dwelling, head of the family occupies the head position at the dining table. This position at the far end of the room, is often set against a window. The window from this perspective illuminates everything (people and objects) during daytime, such as breakfast and lunch periods. The head of the family gets a well-illuminated view and so feels commander of the situation. At the same time, however, other participants on the dining table see (in the reverse position) the head of the family against a brightly lit window. This occludes perception of details of the body posture and facial gestures. As a result of this family members derecognize and ignore the head of the family. Wife of the head of the family, if she occupies the opposite chair, or if the kitchen is in that direction, she too disregards the position and cold-shoulders the person.

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Strong back illumination makes it difficult for customer to see the bar tender’s face However, Bar attendant can clearly see customers.

This daytime happenings, change considerably at supper time, as the ‘backbite window’ illumination is replaced with artificial lighting. Nominally the situation should stand corrected (if not reversed), but attitudes formed during daytime persist at other times.

In a related space planning setting, the person in charge of cooking has to face the platform, and therefore show the backside to the dining table sitters. And this becomes cause of devaluation of the ‘person in charge of cooking’. This is now being corrected with island cooking facilities, or cooking and dining being placed at a right angle. Correct direction of lighting vastly improvises the situation.

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A strongly back lit room

Position of a person relative to the source of illumination also holds true in conference rooms, executive cabins, reception areas, lecture rooms, press conference rooms, etc. Natural or artificial illumination -as singular source and that too from the backside must be avoided, and if inevitable, reinforce it with lighting from other directions. One of the simplest ways is to envision how the situation manifests from every single position.

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Two persons getting side illumination recognise each others features, but third person at the end of table may not be able to read facial gestures

Side illumination eliminates many of the anomalies of perception and recognition but not all. To create good diffusion, the source for side illumination needs some depth from the seating -standing position. In small rooms this is not possible, so it requires reinforcement with lighting from other directions.

Exclusive illumination from top, through spot light or skylight creates under the chin shadows. This can be corrected by counter illumination from other directions. Light colour floors and table tops can counter the effects of top -down lighting. TV studios use light colour or reflective table tops, but avoid showing them in a visual frame by positioning the participants on a raised platform, and cameras at a slightly lower level then the table tops.

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