Skip to Content

CFP: Skin—Surface—Circuit: Embodying the Improvisatory

Skin—Surface—Circuit: Embodying the Improvisatory
An ICASP-McGIll Interdisciplinary Conference
June 14-16, 2012, Montreal

What does it mean to say we improvise our bodies, or embody our improvisations? The theme of this conference addresses the implications of new research emerging from the humanities, social sciences, arts and sciences on what counts in general as a body, and specifically what improvising bodies might be. What is the relationship of improvisers to their corporeality? Do the social dimensions of improvisation suggest limitations, or opportunities for new kinds of improvising agents and networks? What bodily norms do genres, communities, instruments and technologies either assume, or question?

We invite proposals on these issues, and the host of other questions they suggest, such as: How do new methods of musical mediation and new technologies for improvising across times and places question assumptions of what improvising bodies might be? How are traditional sites of essentialist thinking about bodies, be they concerning sex, gender, race, class, culture, ability or other either undermined, or assumed, by new ways of improvising, and new technologies for facilitating it? Has the whole notion of a body become redundant, or do we need a new concept to make sense of emerging modes of music making and new models of embodied knowledge and community?

The Adaptive Use Musical Instruments group ( will be in attendance, and will conduct a series of events concerning their work.

Proposals should be no longer than 250 words, in either English or French. Only one proposal may be submitted per person. Please include name, address, and audiovisual requirements. Submit abstracts electronically (as .doc or .pdf) to either or by Feb. 1. Please also send a c.v. in the same format. Papers should be of 30 min reading length. We will also consider non-standard presentations, involving multi-media, performance, and so on.

Improvisation is, simply put, being and living this very moment. No one can hide in music, and improvising in music is to be truly in this very moment and being completely yourself, with all your qualities and faults. It is probably the most honest state for a human being to be in.

– John McLaughlin in an interview with Daniel Fischlin.