During this workshop, you will be guided through a number of activities and perceptual illusions to focus the senses before building objects for the ‘Clay Hand Experiment’ [CHI] and the Unfeasible object experiment. The CHI is based on the Rubber hand illusion, only participants build their own hand rather than using a rubber hand. Through using clay it is possible to distort and manipulate the clay beyond the form of a hand and create different degrees of ‘unfeasible objects’ and the attempt to embody these as part of our own body image. Embodiment is measured through questionnaires, introspective interviews, as well as measuring ‘proprioceptive mislocalisation’. The experiment shows that it is not only possible to convince participants that a clay hand is their own hand, but in some cases, they can belive that an unfeasible object is their own hand. The aim of the workshop is to explore the possibilities and limits of these illusions. Towards the end of the workshop, we will discuss the experience in relation to the questionnaire results.
Our hands are complex instruments. They allow us to interact with the world around us, enable us to manipulate objects, communicate through gesture and touch. They act as sensors to navigate, provide tactile feedback reinforcing our visual perception. In our daily life, our hands are continually present and almost always active in some way. However, despite this, they are mostly taken for granted. The discovery of the now well-known ‘Rubber Hand Illusion’ in 1998, led to a surge of new multisensory perceptual illusions being developed. Multisensory perceptual illusions combine different senses; in this case tactile and visual. Similar techniques are used to make participants believe they have embodied someone’s else’s body, have moved out of their own bodies [simulated out of body experiences], or even occupy empty space.
Before the workshop, you will be required to complete a short online questionnaire 10 mins.
During the workshop, you will be guided through a number of ‘actions’ to prepare the sense. Everyone’s experience will be completely different and there is a small chance that you may not experience these kinds of illusions to the same degree as others.
Towards the end of the workshop, we will discuss the experience, and how it relates to the questionnaire results, and explanation of the science and historical context of tactile illusions and perceptual hallucination more widely.
The workshop was developed through a number of collaborations and projects. The first workshop took place at the Manchester Science Festival in 2011 developed in collaboration with Dr Elizibeth Lewis. Since then the workshop has been used as part of my ongoing research into art and perceptual illusion and resulted in “The Clay Hand Illusion And The Embodiment Of Unfeasible Objects” a paper written in collaboration with experimental psychologist Ellen Poliakoff, published in Perception Journal. Most recently the workshop has taken place at Whitworth Art Gallery, 2018 and Manchester Art Gallery 2019.