Warming Up for the Unknown

by David Scarantino + Melt (Isabel Paehr + Loren Britton)

Warming up for the Unknown is a warm up Xercise manual to prepare for unknown and indeterminate outcomes. Created through a collaborative set of non-linear processes, each collaborator created a warm up Xercise to share with another, where the others wouldn't know what they were warming up for. These warm-up Xercises for not-knowing propose that holding space for indeterminancy is something that can be prepared for and invented towards. The Xercises are decidedly anti-optimisation and pro-failure. In tuning towards other practices this Xercise manual proposes ways to "Warm Up for Theory", towards "Scaling Up", "For Tracing Yourself" and to shape "Warm Up Constellations". These practices propose that "Warming Up" is about becoming tuned, not about becoming toned.

The collaboration itself was created in a time where the unknown seemed inevitable. Covid-19 brought with it new suggestions on how to collaborate cross borders and cross disciplines. With ideas of bodily practices as a starting point for the collaboration, we began discussing how warming up is a catalyst for melting physically/mentally/reflexively. From this collaborative practice we discovered how to melt together through warming up while maintaining our own unique forms. A reimagining of ourselves as a collective that can communicate inunique ways even with separation between us. Through the inquiry towards I and We, we found ourselves often discussing our positions in relation to emotional responses, bodily reactions, sensations of temperature and vocalizing. Reflecting on how the experiences with our practices differed from one another but also how they were the same. A meeting point between the unknowns that gave way to a melting of the boundaries that can often be present inside creative collaborative practices.

Should these Xcersises speak to you and should you try them out we would be delighted to share your documention on our website.

Three glass crystals surround the book Funk the Erotic by author L. H. Stallings. In the open intro page of the book Funk the Erotic, someone has underlined verbs in red. Three glass crystals lie next to othe open intro page of the book Funk the Erotic.

Manual: Warming Up for Theory

Materials Needed:
a book or PDF
a writing utensil

Warm Up:

1. Choose an intro to a theoretical text, preferably something with lots of verbs.

2. Read the first 2-4 paragraphs. Underline all verbs in present and active form, e. g. „vibrates“, "resonates", "shines".

3. Compose movements out of the verbs.

4. Write the movements down.

5. Exercise: Do your warm up by following the movements you have composed with these verbs.

How to exercise:

1. Get Cozy.

2. Read through all the instructions, so that you know what to expect.

3. Follow the instructions, follow your interests, take as much time as you need, and enjoy.

This excercise was initially performed by David Scarantino, Loren Britton, Isabel Paehr. We used the texts Friction: An Ethography of Global Connection by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing andFunk the Erotic, Transaesthetics and Black Sexual Cultures by L. H. Stallings.


What kinds of movements do theorecial texts suggest or not?

What ways of learning/teaching theory are being proposed?

What can we learn from taking words literally?

How do theory and embodiment relate?


Working with Anna Tsings’ text led to the following excercises:
Imagine yourself as a tree. Firm with your roots in the ground. Notice your breath and transform your inhale and exhale into the wind that begins to move you.

Manual: Warm Up Constellations

Materials Needed:
a writing utensil
you can also use a digital drawing tool

Warm Up:

This excercise is done best with a group, or just yourself with repetition over some time. It is suited to compare or track emotions in regard to specific events, experiences or moods. We will use the figure of the heat map to produce constellations of our emotions.

How to exercise:

1. Choose some emotions you would like to track. For example: Feeling stressed, happy, anxious, joyous, depressed, medium.

2. Write questions about these emotions. For example: How stressed are you?, What is your body temperature?, How connected to other people do you feel?

3. Compose a spectrum of possible emotional responses for each question. These are your parameters for tracking your emotional responses. For example, the question "How stressed are you?" could be answered with the spectrum between Stressed, Relaxed, Attentive. Or: Warm, Luke-Warm, Cold, Freezing, Hot.

4. Choose a shape that has as many convergences as your highest number of parameters, for example a triangle. Write your parameters on the corners.

5. Take a break from your shape and decide upon what experience you would like to track your emotional responses around. This could be: Reading the news, calling your mom, excercising, having dinner, waking up, before you start a workshop or class.

6. Plot your emotional responses as dots into the shape, by plotting a dot in relation to the parameters you have chosen. Plot all of your emotions into the same shape before moving onto the next step.

7. Now you will make your constellation heat map. If you see clusters of dots, paint these red. Depending on the distance from the original cluster or clusters of dots, use red - yellow - green - blue as on a heat map.

8. Connect the dots from your plotted emotions. This creates a new shape. Erase everything outside of your new shape.

9. Create some space to reflect on how this shape reflects your emotions or not. If you tracked a similar emotion as a group and if you were comfortable with it, you could share your shapes.

Different triangular constellations map feelings over time in the colors of a heat map.


How comparable are our experiences of the same time or experience?

How many common perameters do we need to find similarity?

How do feelings become spatial in relation to other people?

What kind of visual registers does a heat map open?

How much control do you have about your emotions or body heat?

How much does your emotional register effect how you experience any event or routine?

What are the politics of heat maps?

What is heat?

How does the metaphor of constellation create the possibility to understand feelings as spacial, embodied shapes?

What does it mean to move towards vagueness?

What are the traces of our thermal (or emotional) shadows?

If you tracked your emotions over a longer period of time again and again, what are some patterns or surprises?

Stick figure next to a comic bubble indicating dreaming of it's own body Stick figure next to a hand Stick figure drawing explaining how to use your hands to trace your body in an X-shape from feet to head Stick figure drawing explaining how to use your hands to trace your body in an X-shape from head to feet Stick figure drawing explaining how to use your hands to trace your body in an X-shape up and down repeatedly Stick figure drawing explaining how to use your hands to trace your body in an X-shape up and down repeatedly

Manual: For Tracing Yourself

Materials Needed:
two body length pieces of string.

Warm Up:

This is a shape shifting 'x'ercise. We make an 'x' and shift it around moving both our bodies and the 'x'.

How to exercise:

1. Find a GOOD disco track.

2. Press Play. And put on repeat.

3. Connect your left pinky toe and your right pinky finger, and your right pinky toe and your left pinky finger with string in an 'x' across your body.

4. Begin to wiggle your toes and your pinkies, thus wiggling your 'x'.

5. Trace the left pinky to the right foot, the right pinky to the left foot. Then left pinky to the right knee, right pinky to left knee. Continue this pattern through the hips, rib cage, arms, throat, head.

6. Take your 'x' for a walk around your body. Explore what 'x's can be made with your string and your limbs. Make yourself smaller or bigger to fit the 'x' or to shift it. xtremeeee!

7. 'x'tra 'x'treme 'x'ctions include making 'x' sounds while walking your 'x' around.

8. Disonnect your 'x' from your body. Turn the disco off.


Where does the 'x' limit you, where do you make yourself smaller, where do you shift the 'x'?

What parts of your body did you get intouch with?

What forms are you used to draw with your body, how are they different or similar to the 'x'?

Was there freedom in the constraint?

What would this be like if you had to explain it to someone without words?

Manual: Scaling Up

Materials Needed:
Audio Recorder like a smartphone (if desired)

Warm Up:

This is a playful voice exercise about melting scales up and down -- I'll say something, and you can follow. This is an exercise for one person at a time. We'll melt tempo, words, expected heights and voices.

How to exercise:

1. Listen to this clip, join in and sing along when you feel comfortable. ((scales)) ((clips)) ((secret messages)) ((slow motion or speeding up))


When are you comfortable with your voice? When not? Why?

What are the limits of your voice?

How is your voice read by others?

When does it become play?

When does your voice not go that way?

When does this become yours? When does this become a journey together?

When does the voice become noise? or less like a voice?

How do scales become gradients?