Tuesday, 8 February 2011

embryology talk

This story starts just after conception.

From Conception to Birth

by Alexander Tsiaras

For the first 3 or 4 days the egg divides, roughly once a day slowing, gathering into a tightly compacted sphere. Within a week it burrows into the lining of the uterus, which after initially swelling to engulf the embryo to dispose of it, suddenly turns receptive, it releases a starch upon which the embryo gorges itself and starts to grow at astonishing speed, doubling daily in size.

A few days after implantation the balled-up cells begin to rearrange and move - migrate. With magnificent speed and co-ordination, sheets of cells stream past each other, some migrating inward, others out, some up, some down - until 3 layers emerge - inner, middle and outer.

Once these layers are established, the cells interact rapidly with each other, rearranging themselves gradually into the complex communities we call organs. Like origami, not in one step, but by folding and pinching and refolding, then refolding again and again, it’s possible to make ever more refined and complex shapes.

It takes just 3 - 6 weeks to lay down the basic body plan. Still less than one-tenth of an inch the round ball of cells curls into a C-shape, a tiny comma. A groove has formed along the length of the back and it closes into a tube. Long stringy cells bundle to form nerves, which connect through the tube to the bulge at the top of the comma. A circulatory system unfolds. Another tube of new highly elastic cells takes shape with the remarkable ability to contract and release. Within 3 weeks from conception they have twisted into an S-shaped loop and have started pumping cells filled with oxygen and nutrients to every other tissue in the body. A heart begins to beat.

Folding and refolding happens everywhere, apace. At 6-7 weeks small bulges morph into limb buds, the head grows swiftly, eye pits deepen, the nasal region expands , the upper limb forms, finger rays appear and nipples.

And then, at about 8 weeks, just as quickly as it all began, the furious shuffling of cells stops. In form the embryo is complete, it is now a fetus.

From the Speech of the Embryo

by Jaap van der Wal

The embryo may be considered as a continuous whole or complete self organized being that seems to fall apart into its bodily constituents and organs. The embryo is maintaining order or centering this process. A kind of tree of cells, tissues and organs can be described which originate out of each other and gradually come to a distinction between each other.

So a fertilized human egg is not just a cell, it represents an organism: it is a complete manifestation of the human organism at that very moment, under the circumstances and environmental conditions that exist one day after conception. Like every living being the human embryo is in every phase of development a coherent whole, a unity of form, shape and function interacting with its environment. It is always itself.

DNA or genes may be considered as the clay for the modeling hands to do their modeling work. Neither the clay nor the hands can come to form on their own. The form and the shape can only come into appearance in the interaction between both conditions. In this way the human embryo is not caused by the genome and environmental factors, it comes into appearance (to manifestation) thanks to these both conditions.

An embryo does not yet, like an adult, have a form that functions, but that the embryo still functions in forms, in growing and changing forms and shapes. It is process in motion.

As an adult human we express ourselves by means of our body: the world is our aim and the body is the instrument for this purpose. The embryo on the other hand still impresses (imprints) itself into a bodily organization. The action, the performance is directed towards itself, inward. An orientation from beyond to here, from periphery to center may be seen in the embryo.

At the end of the first week of embryonic development the entity of the embryo, which at that moment is represented by a small sphere-shaped organism consisting of a few genetically identical cells, is divided. It differentiates into two populations of cells, into a duality. During the first days of development the embryo is divided, split up into a number of smaller cells as if the embryo falls apart into cells. Around the sixth day after conception the embryo is a small vesicle fallen apart into an outer mantle of some hundred cells with fluid within, and into a center or nucleus of only 6 to 8 cells. From that moment on a human organism consists of a peripheral body (mantle body) – and a central body, the body that will become our actual body at birth.

Of course those two bodies will change and metamorphose thoroughly but the duality, stays present and is discernible during our whole prenatal life. The processes in the embryo go from outside to inside. For example in the second and third week from this outer body a stream of blood and nourishment has to be developed in order to assure the existence of the central body. The first appearance of a heart represents the center of this whole entity at that moment. A dangerous threshold has to be taken between the second and third week: the embryo comes from a more peripheral existence to an existence in the center. It so to speak comes more to earth. It is incarnating deeper into the body. Is the whole of embryonic development a process of incarnation, an en-velopment? The dynamics of the embryo show us that the central body is coming forth out of the peripheral body. It emancipates from it in a process of gaining independency.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Unfolding Sharply

Along a horizontal tree, mossed and mushed by deer
I lay stretched out on bundled brown leaves
balancing along it, arms out, a sticky branch arrowed my heart
a moment of conception
looking up broken bare branches reached like bursting cells
swinging to a branch I dangled and feeling my knees bend and body long
became the comma
reaching through the twisting branches held by ribs I floated legs and arms
held in a birthing tree
between here and there
seeing the snowdrops

( following Bee's presentation)

Dancers in Landscape Vision

Dancers In Landscape
'my way is not to imitate outward forms of nature, nor use nature as a backdrop, but attempt to reach into the deepest places inside myself that emphasise and empathise with its basic processes.' Anna Halprin

A core group of dancers across East Sussex have created a network/collective to further work in the natural landscape. It comes out of an instinctive desire to dance in community, responding to, and relating with, the earth. We are looking for a deep ecology of moving, listening and witnessing our natural environment through the body.
The work is a creative sourcing that brings resonance to our separate work as independent makers.

…our vision is partial, fleeting, mutable , and transformative. We get, at most , a glimpse now and then of a body at home in the soft lap of the earth, one foot in a puddle and one in a dream…. Barbara Hurd

We welcome hearing from anyone who would be interested in knowing more about the network

Maggie Harvey & Clare Whistler Co-Anchors
www.clarewhistler.co.uk for email & DIL blog
Germinating Seeds
Dancers in Landscape 2
Feb 6 2011

Underground, first impulses, a tiny shoot, foetal

Walk to first meadow, pick seed quotes out of envelope, silent & singular meadow, then pair up. Walk to barn combining seed quotes ( if weather ok and not too muddy go top field way)

In Barn
B Unfolding talk
All to go off to create individual 'unfolding solo'.
Go around and watch each other


Seed talk

Structured improvisation working together

working with paper to create shapes to bury like seeds

photos of the shapes
writing, writing in mud

Walk back
Talk about blog Raphael

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Fierce Energy

Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn!
You bury it in the ground, and it explodes into an oak!
Bury a sheep, and nothing happens but decay!

George Bernard Shaw

Germination begins when a seed imbibes water, which initially causes swelling and then embryo growth.

An Orchard Invisible A Natural History of Seeds Jonathan Silvertown

Excerts from poems by Mary Oliver about seeds

But the seed has been planted, and when has happiness ever required much evidence to begin
its leaf green breathing?

for the seeds to begin to form in the hardening thistles
dazzling as the teeth of mice
but black
filling the face of every flower

Never in my life
had I felt so near
that porous line
where my own body was done with
and the roots and the stems and the flowers

Their bright faces
which follow the sun will listen,
and all those rows of seeds -
each one a new life!

I thought the earth remembered me, she took me back so tenderly, arranging her dark skirts, her pockets full of lichens and seeds.

I made friends with the creatures nearby , they flowed through the fields and under the tent wall, or padded through the door, grinning through their many teeth, look for seed, suet, sugar

that now is nowhere except underfoot
mouldering in that black subterranean castle of unobservable mysteries- roots and sealed seeds and the wanderings of water

we did not hear, beneath our lives
the old walls falling out of true,
foundations shifting in the dark
when seedlings blossomed in the eaves,

In my hands, I will see the holy seeds
and a sweetness will rise up from these petal-bundles
so heavy I must close my eyes to take it in

and I hope you too will pause to admire the slender trunk, the leaves, the holy seeds, the ground they grow from year after year with striving and patience