I think it was in my high school sociology class, around 1980, that I learned of an anthropologist who spent three months analysing a 90 second film of a mother, father and child in a kitchen, conducting their every day affairs. And the anthropologist, playing the film in slow motion, ultimately realized that the family was dancing, unknowingly, in a coordinated way. When one person's hand reached for the cupboard, another's head might tilt just slightly. Their bodies were incessantly, unconsciously, gracefully responding to each other.
Please, can anybody provide a reference for this research? Do you know of any similar research? What would be key terms for me to search on? I haven't been able to find anything.
I observe this type of coordination in every day life, especially as an artist. From my limited experience with autistic people, I imagine that this is precisely the faculty that they lack, as if they were totally blind or partially blind, depending on where they are in the spectrum. Autistic people have to compensate, if they can at all, by consciously learning what other people are doing unconsciously. I am currently studying the origin of language and this faculty may well ground Tomasello's notion of joint intentionality. When I look at photos and videos of other great apes, they don't seem to position themselves in the way humans do, and perhaps they simply position themselves with regard to particular individuals. And this faculty is, I think, highly relevant to perceiving the sense of wholeness which architect Christopher Alexander investigates.