Constellation: The Body as a Neurotransmitter

“Much like letters, sounds, and images can be transformed into analog or digital signals, sent across space, and decoded again by fax machines, radios, televisions, and computer screens, a signal can be transmitted between two or more individuals. All of us, from mates and god sibs to publicists and pornographers, have the ability to reach into the autonomic nervous system of other bodies, there to excite neurons and stimulate or shut off neurotransmitters and hormonesĀ (Shryock and Smail, p. 64)

This quote stayed with me after I discovered it in a constellation lecture and I have been thinking about it for a while. I love the comparison between the way the body communicates and the way in which we can communicate and interpret letters and sounds. I love how this quote holds some sort of appreciation for the complex way in which images and designs can be transmitted, “sent across space, and decoded again”, almost created to be physical beings as if we can see them travelling through space and their physical journey. I also adore the description of human interaction and the way in which we can transmit signals to other humans. The image created from the idea of reaching into the nervous systems of other bodies feels so intimate and raw, suggesting that words, letters and sounds can have the same effect as a physical touch in creating emotion. Shryock and Smails depiction of transmitting emotions as exciting neurones and stimulating or shutting off hormones and such gives such a graphic image in your mind, you can almost visualise the physical creation and destruction of emotions.

As a graphic designer, I can only hope that my work could evoke the kind of strong emotion that Shryock and Smail appear to believe that humans can cause in each other.


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