Sensory Proportions

10 December, 2018

"The body is our general medium for having a world."

Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Neurologists have now mapped the representation of our bodily senses on the surface of the human brain.  If parts of our bodies were sized according to their sensory stimuli, our lips, our tongue and our hands would occupy a disproportionately large share of our bodies.  Our tongue and lips would each be the size of a sofa and our hands would be the size of a fireplace with our fingers the same diameter of our waists.  These areas of our body are grossly overrepresented in our brains to help us have a world.  As such, I would argue that Architects are failing to recognise the importance of their hands and their ability to touch the thresholds of architecture.

Our brain gives large stimuli particularly to the thumb.  We have evolved to touch our environment with our thumbs.  The various areas that stimulate sections of our body are not aligned within the brain in the way we would expect.  For example, our genitals and feet are next to one another in our brains.  Our hands and faces are next to one another in our brain, with the two most sensitive parts, the tongue and thumb touching one another.  As such, when our thumb feels a beautiful handrail that stimulates us, synaptic nerves are firing and wiring nearby in our tongue too.  We generate our own patterns of hand rail information and these become visceral and remind us of food as we touch them with our hands.  The image in this journal post are samples we created for our Porcelain Gallery project alongside Workshop ceramicist, Emma Payne.  So when Architects design a beautiful hand rail for a project with candy like colours and dolly mixture textures, we can taste them with our hands.  This is no longer artistic hearsay, it is science.