The blurry line between figure posing and somatic learning

Perhaps I can tackle this question through writing. Just the other day (as so often) I found myself pondering the idea of learning figure drawing… but then, I quickly dismissed the notion, as per usual. Lack of talent and time, being my reasoning.

How about digital figure posing then? As an alternative route (my usual go-to thought after dismissing the thought of learning figure drawing), I googled afresh and opened a couple of figure posing apps. However, even now, in the year 2024, I find the available figure posing apps painstakingly cumbersome. It takes me, “like,” forever, to pick and move each joint around, each in its 3 planes, until a pose begins to come together.

Digital Figure Posing

This got me thinking: no matter how many hours I will spend on posing that digital, posable figure, THAT figure will learn nothing. Nothing. No-thing. Naught. Despite me carefully and thoughtfully moving it around, despite that figure having its limbs rotated into all sorts of meaningful angles, my posing it will not touch upon who this figure is, at its core.

However, I, as the person who does the posing, I will learn something. I will get better at posing that figure. I will get better at using the software, at overcoming obstacles. I will improve my workflow, and I will learn some things about myself too, maybe… how clumsy I am, or how patient with software I am … what else?

Digital Figure Posing vs Somatic Education

Question: What is the difference between posing a digital figure, and posing oneself, one’s own body? As in assuming an Instagram or Yoga pose? Through posing one’s own body there’s an added richness and depth, a real-time engagement with one’s body and environment, as opposed to doing the manipulations to a digital figure on a screen.

Somatic Education

Well, you might not have noticed, but in total I’ve spent a bit more than 6 hours on writing this blog post. And I had a night of thinking, too. It seems like I tackled this question well.

In this blog post I’ve identified two very dissimilar, two distinct pathways. These two pathways are

a. Figure posing, whether it involves posing a digital figure, one’s own body, or someone else (e.g. a Yoga student, or an art model for painting), where the main purpose is to pose a figure, and focuses on achieving a specific configuration of limbs and orientation,

b. Learning through movement, as it is experienced in Feldenkrais-inspired classes, or Somatic Education in general, which involves simulating or evoking genuine learning experiences.

Like all art and craftsmanship, both approaches offer deep and enriching experiences, yet they differ from each other greatly. Figure posing aims to achieve a particular pose to the best of one’s abilities, while learning through movement is about self-exploration and improvement, with poses merely being a practical necessity, emerging as a natural consequence of the learning process.

The distinction between figure posing and learning through movement can be as clear as night and day, or the lines can be blurred, with one practice fading into the other. Ultimately, it’s up to you what you want to focus on in each respective session. To paraphrase Moshé Feldenkrais: “If you know what you’re doing, you can do what you want.”