How Do We Know
What We Know
About Hormones

This book is not a book about hormones. Rather, it is a book about how we humans think about our hormones, and how we know whatever we know about our hormones. This book is also a collection of invitations to draw, discuss, move, and imagine the internal bio-chemical dialogues that our bodies hold within themselves. (2024)
Informed by over a decade of work on body knowledge practices, this book encompasses the processes and findings of an artistic practice that has centered “body data”. Yet what this book is most interested in is nourishing sociality and creativity in order to connect abstract concepts to direct experience. As such, this book won’t tell you much about hormones. Instead it invites exploration of our respective, shared human interiority, which is neither passive nor silent, but rather abuzz with unseen communication...
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148 x 210 mm • 32 pages with 4 transparent pages• Offset/natural paper white
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Other Related Works

2024 / Coming soon: recording of the panel @ MIND Foundation INSIGHT Forum on Embodiment & Well-Being: From Altered States to Interoceptive Connection (June 26th, 2024, Berlin)
2023: Eggland / Eiland, essay appearing in The Posthumanist issue on RHYTHMS
2022: Time & Energy Management for Creative Projects practical notes on how to work what is there, rather than what is not there.
2021-2022: CRITICAL DATA PRACTICE AT HOME AND WITH FRIENDS recipe in the Critical Coding Cookbook. This recipe is for both learners and teachers who are unsure how to make critical data practice concepts immediately practical. Working with personal data can lead well to interrogating all aspects of how data is produced and handled, and these can be applied to broader societal issues. This approach also lowers the barrier to entry: it is invigorating to create personally meaningful objects from the start. The output is expressive art that can exist on its own, while the process can scaffold critical technical discourse.
2016-2021: Should I Do The Thing? expresses, as a diagram, major life turning points; not to make a decision, but to reveal the decision one already recognizes to be the right one.
2019: love-song to a future self, in collaboration with Anne-Lorraine Selke

Invitations & Practices

Exerpted from the full version, which is freely available for download as a PDF

1. Body Maps

SOLO VERSION: Placing the pen on the paper and looking away, or closing the eyes, start a body scan meditation. Move your awareness slowly from one specific, localised organ or area of the body to another. Move your hand along with your awareness, without looking at the paper again. For example, one possible path through the body may be: first the major external features (eyes, shoulders); then major well­known internal features (heart, ribs); then viscera that are known but are not typically located (pancreas). Any other choice of parts; their order; or the scan’s pacing, is open and welcomed.
GROUP VERSION: Take turns leading the above body scan. Allow the choice, order, and pacing to shift and change with each turn.

2. The Foundation

What are the ideas that influence how you receive information about hormones, from your own body; from your trusted peers; or from the media? What are the biggest anchors or points of reference for you in your own journey of building your body knowledge more generally?
The answers to the above can be approached as a list; a time- line; or a mind-map.

3. Rhythm and Event Archaeology

Draw daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly rhythms. You can focus on things like hunger/satiety, sleep quality or duration, and stress. Try to excavate from past experiences. You can fold a piece of paper like an accordion and make a note of the timeline of a major event in your life. Then you can expand it and fill in how the rhythms might have been similar or different in those periods.

4. Impact Lines

Draw lines between the bodily experience(s) and the hormone(s) that are connected [see PDF lists]. Consider using different colour pencils or pens to express different types of relationships. In the process of mapping the impact lines and relationships, centre revision, annotation, and layering.

5. Singing in a Shared Space

When was the last time you sang, or chanted, with other people in a shared space? You can use this space to annotate the body with your own experience; when you sing, where do you feel it, and how does it feel? Are there differences between singing alone or in a group?

6. Energy Diary

This is an individual reflection exercise, involving a pen and paper kept by one’s bed, to be filled out in the mornings. Create a table with a row for each day, and columns for “Yesterday” and “When I Wake”.
Optionally, other columns, or a column for notes can be inter- esting; for example, because unusual sleep disturbance may be a good signal to keep track of, this may be worth leaving space for. In each of the main 2 columns, record every morning a number from 1-5:
In “Yesterday”: How energetically demanding was the prior day?
1. Very few energetic demands (not necessarily relaxed)
2. Fewer energetic demands than average
3. An average amount of ener- getic demands
4. A bearable amount of ener- getic demands, but not sustainable for a long time
5. An unbearable amount of energetic demands
In “When I Wake”, consider how ready you feel for the day ahead:
1. I feel very capable to under- take the challenges that I face today
2. I feel capable of undertake many of the things ahead
3. I feel an average amount of interest
4. I am somewhat dreading the day ahead, but it will be alright
5. Starting this day requires an impossible amount of effort
Feel free to rephrase these in ways that resonate more. Keep the diary for a few days or weeks. Then, go through and consider: are the numbers what you ex- pected? Where do the differences from your expectation arise?
For each day, you can also calcu- late the level of recovery: “When I Wake” number minus the “Yesterday” number. Are these mostly positive (even when there are many demands, there is some recovery overnight) or negative or zero (limited access to recovery)?

7. Resonant Heartbeats

Take 1–3 minutes to make tick marks with a pen/pencil on a piece of paper every time your heart beats. After you’re done, take a moment to talk about what it felt like, and what came up. Try different settings and durations.
You can try this exercise in per- son, or over a video call. The pens and pencils against paper make a chorus. The chorus longs for a rhythm that is both inescapable and unattainable. As they make tick marks, people become drawn to the sounds of the others, or distracted by them. They try to either match or over- power what they hear outside the body with what is arising inside the body. When you observe your heartbeat, you can also change it; maybe not much, but certainly a little bit; maybe even a little bit more with practice. As the group is making tick-marks, tak-tak-tak, inevitably some people will start to draw their heart beats into a matching rhythm. Two people with pencils in chorus, but who have picked a different moment in the circulatory beat for tick-mark- making, are making a different song with their hearts.
This exercise has three key goals within the context of an in-person workshop. It (1) centres on the body, as it can be challenging to find the heartbeat; (2) supports starting a discussion about data observation—when did you make the tick-mark? Did observing it change it? And (3) creates a shared, embodied experience through sound.
The Resonant Heartbeats exercise is based on an exercise in “Observe, Collect, Draw!” by Georgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec. Since 2020, I have used versions of it in various courses and workshops.

8. Collective Hormone Epistemology

This invitation is to practise different formats of storytelling. Hormones are either not dis- cussed, or discussed because something awful has happened: pain, disorientation, exhaustion, being mistreated by a loved one or a medical professional. What else can we do? Well, we can draw and we can read detailed accounts about how to under- stand specific body functions and how hormones are involved. We can make collective sounds based on our heartbeats, or sing. The aim is an experience, perhaps an unusual one; and maybe a shift in how we perceive our internal experiences.

Let's Stay in Touch!

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The book cover (and desktop version of this page) features a aea cucumber. A swimming pinkish orange translucent holothurian (Elasipodida) with intestinal tract visible. Material in gut is similar to seafloor dung piles seen widely over world ocean sea floor. Image ID: expl5475, Voyage To Inner Space - Exploring the Seas With NOAA Collect. Photo Date: 2010 July 27. Credit: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, INDEX-SATAL 2010.
In one of the stories in “Things that are,” Amy Leach writes: "The floor of the sea is also the setting for the potentially dramatic life of the sea cucumber. [...] Every year, for three weeks, it melts down its respiratory and circulatory systems and then rebuilds itself. The danger is that if it gets warm or stressed during this restoration period the poor frail cucumber will burst, expelling all its softened heart-soup. Please do not yell at the sea cucumbers." (emphasis added)