Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Towards a barefoot existence with Footstickers

The most brilliant things are often so simple that they make us look beyond the cleverness or originality of the individual creator, but make us see that the best creator is just someone who is open to creating things that almost seem to want to be created. In this we do not force our creations to come out of us; we simply act as an open channel for them to naturally come into existence through our body and minds. So it seems to be with the Footstickers by Frieke Severs, who graduated with the concept at Nike.

It seems almost 'natural' to me that through our technology we move towards an interactive, humanized new form of nature in which we exist seamlessly, up to the point where 'existence' - standing out, as an appearance, a form - moves towards simply being. Technology might move from protecting the fragility of our bodies against the harms of brutal nature towards being so integrated with them that we simply do not perceive any boundaries anymore. And so, our shoes too can become our next skin.

We already had Vibram FiveFingers and Nike Free, and now we might get Footstickers. I can't think of how to explain why we need to move towards this without spending a lot of words on it, so the clear and concise shortcut has become a list:

- The most obvious reason is that it saves material and production energy.
- Moving towards a barefoot existence brings us back to embodiment; we need to connect to the sensations our feet give us, and we can develop intricate skills that way. Our feet can become more like hands again than like stumps that we land on and comfortably rest in the fortresses we call shoes. We focus too much on our mind-skills these days.
- Barefoot walking and running teaches us to use the inherent and optimized physical complexity of the foot, for example by employing the flexibility of the foot bridge. We can learn to spend less energy this way and run faster as well. I speak from experience as I am a regular long-distance barefoot runner.
- I know, we like shoes that support an individual style and identity. But: this is related to a psychological need for privacy, isn't it. We do not like to open up, expose ourselves, and show our most private things, including our body. We like masks because we can construct them. To people that are used to creating a styling-based identity for themselves, it seems silly to use the already given form of the human body as our outer appearance; because that is a form that we have not created ourselves. If we overcome this though, we can come to trust on the natural intelligence that takes care of the workings of the cosmos, beyond our individuality-driven minds. We can learn to listen to our body as our guru, and then this will become socially acceptable as well.

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