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Class 2: Sensation and translation

15 April 2024

  1. Introduction
  2. Schedule
  3. Exercises
    1. Free write
    2. Sensations
    3. Sensations
      1. Positive
      2. Negative
  4. Supplementary materials
    1. Other classes


This week’s class combines two ideas: identifying potentially irrational responses to physical sensations, and communicating these visceral, embodied sensations to someone else. It culminated in students making films about one anothers’ own favoured or disliked physical sensations.


10.30 - 13.00
Review and peer feedback of current work

14.00 - 17.10


Free write

5 minutes of free writing, with the prompt: irrational


  • Make a list of physical sensations which you like. Be as specific as you can be - for example, “the sensation of drinking cold water from a glass that is fresh from the dishwasher and still warm”
    5 minutes, alone, making notes on paper
  • Make a list of physical sensations which you hate. Be as specific as you can be - for example, “a film of sweat on my back under my clothes after I’ve run for a train”
    5 minutes, alone, making notes on paper
  • Pick one of your sensations (like / hate) and
write as much about it as you can. Think: Where did you first experience it? Do you seek it out or avoid it? Where do you come across it? What makes it better, or worse?
    7 minutes, alone, making notes on paper
  • Share one or more of your sensations with a partner. Become an expert in your partners’ sensations. What does that person experience? What do they feel? When does the sensation come up? When do they think about it?
    15 minutes, in pairs, conversation
  • Group conversation: tell the class about your partners’ sensation. What are commonalities and differences?
    30 mins, group conversation
    here is what we discussed
  • Translate someone else’s sensation into
a short film up to 3 minutes long. Try to embody the sensations they feel as best you can. You can make this film in any way you like. We will review each others’ work next week.


The group identified and discussed the following sensations:


  • The moment immediately after climbing into bed at the end of the day (warm duvet!)
  • The sensation of removing ski boots after a long day of skiing (and drinking hot, sweet tea between runs) The smell of gasoline and metal in a covered, dark basement storage space
  • The feeling in the air during apertivo time in Italy and Spain, between 6-8pm, when the sun has mostly set but the sky is clear and blue; extra points if it’s a seaside town and you can smell the sand/sea
  • The feeling of peeling PVA glue from your fingertips


  • The feeling of nails scratching on a wall, or paper
  • The smell of Chanel perfume, and the association with rude store clerks
  • The feeling of crushed velvet car seats on fingertips
  • A specific drum noise in an experimental Japanese song which sounds like it’s cracking inside your mind
  • The sound of nails on a blackboard

Supplementary materials

In class, we discussed:

  • The film Koyaanisquatsi, in reference to the NYC crowd scenes
  • The work of artist Christian Marclay
  • The project Friction Atlas by Paolo Patelli and Giuditta Vendrame

If you liked these exercises, consider listening to weeks 3-4 of the course podcast. There are a few supplementary exercises you might enjoy!

Other classes

Class 1 Class 3