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Alien Hand Experiment

I set up a version of the Alien Hand experiment at the Manchester Art Gallery Workshops. Each day I watched as people used this, I took note of what they did and how they interacted with it. A participant places their hands under a screen. The other participant places their hands on the table under a camera, and are asked to copy the movements of the hands under the screen.  The camera films their movements and relays this to the screen. 

Alien Hand Experiment

After a few moments, participants started to feel ownership over the hand on the screen. It is difficult to accurately copy the movements and the participants begin somehow, mirroring each other’s movement to the point that they seem to forget who is leading who. In many cases the participant looking at the screen asks “Who is leading this?” or “I can’t remember who is following who”.

Drawing with an Alien Hand

Initially it started as a drawing activity referencing the original Alien Hand experiment, where participants copy the other drawing, then evolved into a 3d activity, copying and making objects with clay, but finally, in its most effective form remained simply with no drawing or making, but most effective was simply mirroring each others hand movements.

What was also interesting with the drawing was the fact that the drawing under the screen was often “better” than the copied one. See Right. And that one feeld ownership over the drawing they have seen being created rather than the one they drew unseen under the screen.

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