In Thought Piece 18, I wrote about interoception, defined by Collins English Dictionary as “sensitivity to stimuli origination inside of the body” from all our internal organs such as the heart, lungs, gut and kidneys. I explained that in our everyday lives we may not always be aware of this continual messaging system within our bodies and indeed much of the time this activity happens below our conscious awareness.
In this piece, I will write about exteroception:
The Oxford Dictionary of Psychology (Colman 2015) defines exteroception as:
“Any form of sensation that results from stimuli located outside the body and is detected by exteroceptors, including vision, hearing, touch or pressure, heat, cold, pain, smell, and taste.”
On the face of it, exteroception seems an easier concept to grasp than interoception, as we are all familiar with our senses responding to various things in the environment. From the smell of a rose in summer, the sound of traffic in a city, the vibrant colours of autumn, the touch of a blade of grass as we walk through a meadow and the taste of fresh strawberries. These are the stimuli that reach our consciousness however being aware of being, whether received through interoception or exteroception, can often be below consciousness.
My quest is two-fold: how can I improve and develop my skills of exteroception (and interoception); and is it possible to access the below conscious experience through intuitive photographic practice?
I plan to work on interoception and exteroception in my next period of photographic practice. This will include developing my understanding of the concept, reading literature that demonstrates meticulous recording of sensory feedback; as well as applying it to my creative work. I have a number of questions and I am sure more will follow:
- What methods might I use in the field to attune myself to the continuous feedback of the senses?
- How might I audit my current skills and identify those senses that might be less developed than others?
- Do I preference some senses over others and are there ways I can develop the less attuned?
- Can spending extended periods of time in the landscape possibilise my chances of being aware of being?
- Does writing and reflecting in the field, and on the outcomes of photographic practice, develop my skills?
- Can the use of interoception and exteroception strategies in other disciplines, such as literature, inform my thinking?
- Are there ways I can improve the chances of me finding the creative zone and being productive in my work?
Colman, A. (2015). Oxford Dictionary of Psychology. Oxford, Oxford University Press.