“Civilize the mind
“Civilize the mind, make savage the body,”- Chairman Mao Zadong ( (azquotes, 2012)
Craft making and designing is an extremely simple yet complex art.
It is a process of myriad facets that requires extensive ability and thinking. I is described as a ‘reflection in action and as an embodied process in which the hand, eye and mind collaborate’ (Hakkarainen, 2014). This literature review discusses the findings of what embodied cognition is and the factors influencing it in the field of crafts and design through secondary textual research. It explores and discusses the various views on the role of the ‘knowing body’ in the exploration of materials and emphasizes the body as a crucial contributor to knowledge formation and emotional risk assessment in creative processes by experts and other professional academic personal in the field. In this piece of work, the different themes that are notable in human embodied engagement in craft and design will be discussed arguing and proving that the interaction of physicality in our creative world causes to facilitate development of our cognition (Scott R. Klemmer, 2006).
In the wide practice of craft and design, a gigantic part of making of knowledge is derived from the close contact between material and body. The Japanese expression ‘Te de kangaeru’ translates into ‘thinking with one’s hands which allocates the cognitive positioning in the bodily aspect rather than the mental. (Pirita, 2008) It is said from thorough empirical and experimental research that the human body is a great contributor and generator of knowledge production during a craft or design practice. Under the theory of embodied cognition, we as human beings are cohesively psychophysical, and that all of our experiences of the senses aids in our primary source of knowing (Groth, 2014). Designers and craft practitioners should be encouraged to interact and experiment with physical form, which allows for idea development and to fully mature in their craft. (Henna Lahti, 2013) The main themes to be discussed are as follows: the role of the knowing body, emotional risk assessment and experiential practice through practice.
A: The ‘knowing’ body
Designing or craftsmanship is a creative, end result orientated and iterative that needs the constant generating and cultivating of complex cognitive abilities. It refers to the significant deal of human thinking that is taking place at intrinsic, implicit, non-linguistic dimensions (Hakkarainen, 2009). Embodied knowledge is the ‘sense of knowing something through the body’ (Prins, 2015). However phenomenology puts forward a limitation to this view by saying that we are ‘restricted’ to only a view of our surroundings from the ‘perspective of our situated body’. Groth argues this by saying that through our competency of bodily movement to a new or unknown position we henceforth view the world differently, and this constantly evolves. We design and craft practitioners not only experience something new every time we physically interact with our artefacts and surroundings, we also accumulate wide arrays of knowledge subconsciously without fully verbally realizing it (Groth, 2016).
Body and mind dichotomy: It is well aware that in the creative arts most of the knowledge is either intuitive and/or immediate. The dichotomy of the body and mind in the field of art/craft/design is being thoroughly looked at in recent years after the subtlety of the body as a non-thinking agent is regarded to be as vital a component as the mind. It is argued that mind isn’t limited to only the head, but distributed in a cognitive sense throughout the entire body (Goldinger, 2016).
The role of the knowing body in crafts is an underrated aspect of the creative process, material manipulation of any sort creates knowledge that is generated bodily. (Camilla Groth, 2014) In ‘The Eyes of the Skin’ Juhani Pallasmaa argues that ‘seeing’ has been the only dominant contributor towards knowledge making process, that cognitive skills stemmed from writing and reading are regarded far more in value than the touch and other physical senses in the creative process (Pallasmaa, 2007). This is counter attacked by Prins’s view that if design/craft students were to only listen to lectures and read books they would only possess/learn ‘general’ and verbal meanings to the contextual world around them, she argues that a good learning environment must involve embodied practices to further internalize knowledge (Prins, 2015). This further has been argued by Nilsson, whereby the crucial role of materiality has been emphasized time and time over, that making and producing artefacts should be distinguished as an academic discipline in schools due to design and craft both containing cognitive and embodied processes such us problem solving, experimentation, ideation and construction, etc. (Hakkarainen, 2009).
B: Emotional risk assessment in craft/design process
Emotions are manifested and enacted through the body e.g.: facial expressions and physical positions, they are substantial inputs in decision making and rational thinking, also known as somatic markers that guides the subject in risk assessment (Groth, 2014). Another key example to reinforce this would be a design experimentation and exploration course was undertaken by a masters student in Aalto with the chosen them of tactile experiences, she produced four artefacts laboriously of different textures to invoke a mixture of ‘feelings’ in the audience to test and compare tactile stimuli and emotional connotation. (Groth, 2016)
The felt experience with the material at hand and the connection to emotion is not a topic largely touched on. It is argued that feelings and emotions have prevalently been pushed aside in the field of academia and design and are considered to be an interference with logic and objectivity, the sensory subjective experience of the craftsman/designer were always considered not as crucial/ interesting than the actual design/craft in focus (Damasio, 2000). Exploring material in connection to cognitive embodiment was researched through a Contextual Activity Sampling System (CASS) in Aalto University in Finland whereby the researcher threw porcelain clay blindfolded to
enhance tactile sensitivity and awareness (Pirita, 2008). This practitioner-researcher Camilla Groth led a self-practice led research where she threw clay blindfolded for five days and recorded her tacit and emotional experiences in response to critical incidents that occurred throughout this experiment and analyzed how they effect the emotional risk assessment, problem solving and decision
making in the creative process
in craft practice. She has proved how important these factors are in the craftsman’s expertise in terms of stress, disappointment, satisfaction, etc. (Groth, 2015).
C: Tactile and Experiential knowledge through practice
Practice led knowledge and research puts emphasis on the reflection of experiential knowledge that the designer or practitioner embodies (Camilla Groth, 2014). The term ‘Enactivism’ is coined when a person implements the embodiment concept, learns through action whereby gathering cognitive knowledge this way (Groth, 2015). Glenberg has argued this statement by Groth by saying that creative cognition isn’t purely generated in action, he argues that a practitioner can sit still and watch an educational program and they’d still express a wide range of behaviors such as attention, perception, memory, etc., clearly avoiding any sort of movement, however Witt argues that action-perception studies have shown that the usage and inclusion of physical skill effects and alters perceptual evaluations and judgments on themselves, that aids in personal development in practitioners/designers (Goldinger, 2016).
Researcher Piaget seeks to remedy this ‘narrow concepts of intelligence’ that is contextualized by our visual senses. He believes that the shortcomings of the information processing of humans have put constraints on rationality theories, and that intelligence in the crafts must encompass a wider range of abilities/senses, for example: touch (Piaget, 2005).
Tactile consciousness refers to those aspects of neural activity elicited by the presentation of tactile stimuli (Gallace, 2008) and the participants’ sensory receptive surface can be reported explicitly under four criteria: metaphorical mapping, bodily engagement, unexpectedness, and public space (Chow, 2018). When experiential knowledge that the practitioner has embodied is reflected on, this is called practical knowledge (Seitamaa-Hakkarainen, 2016). This is further supported with the claim that there is a specific “designer-ly” method that is inherent to the product, the process and the designers themselves (Cross, 2001). As opposed to Glenberg’s view (Goldinger, 2016) that action isn’t necessary in terms of learning skill, Newcombe disagrees by saying that sensory experiences manifest through gestures, and this in turn solidifies abstract concepts, sustaining mental images, action simulation and representation of the practitioner’s non verbal thought processes. (Newcombe, 2017)
Literature Review and Research Gap
Refer to limitations (Main Article:
Emotions in Risk Assessment and Decision Making Processes During
Tactile augmentation: A multimethod for capturing
From Camilla Groth’s embodied cognition perspective, the researcher had chosen wet and soft clay as her material of experiment to enhance and increase the tactual experience of the experiment, and especially since she has laid down her findings purely from memory after the experiment was over (Seitamaa-Hakkarainen, 2016).
Personally, after the secondary research into practical led experimentation of embodied cognition, there is not an in-depth investigation towards a more solid craft using a crisp, harder more tacit and complex medium that is also analyzed and documented in real time. When we touch the crispness of the paper, hear it’s rustling, and feel through each fold all these perceptive experiences compartmentalize our embodied category of the craft. Due to the fact that embodied cognition is considered a set of vague claims that can only be analyzed thoroughly through proper brain scans and sophisticated methodology, a more simpler form of experimentation is chosen to conduct this research gap: analyzing sensory perception through video recording (visual data) and thinking aloud footage interacting the test subject up-close while she practices origami blindfolded in real time. How the body influences cognitive processing while crafting origami blindfolded and the participants’ sensory receptive surface can be documented in an explicit manner.
Through this exercise, data of the participant’s embodied experiences can be analyzed and collected in a qualitative and quantitative manner. By isolating the tactile experience by covering her eyes, I also looked at her stress levels, mental states, emotions, attention span and state of flow.
Saarah Mohammed Nafeez, a sixteen-year-old high school student who is proficient at origami and is passionate about crafts. She has been practicing origami for seven years and can do myriad of folded structures with ease and competency. Although the participant is proficient at origami, undertaking it blindfolded is a new experience for her, it was a test of her skill.
Coupling the audience’s bodily actions with sensory feedbacks
In this research we have acknowledged the role of the body in knowledge creation
Material have an important role in conveying felt experiences
Emotions in Risk Assessment and Decision Making Processes During
Macro analyzing all the data
documented and reflected upon through diaries, a Contextual Activity Sampling
System (CASS-Query) and videos that include thinking aloud accounts.
able to articulate her tactile experiences and share her
experiential knowledge to a greater degree than before
articulate some of the tacit knowledge
involved in the making process, and we explore tactile augmentation and its benefits
in connection to knowledge making. We will begin with excerpts from the diary.
visual primary research
methodology: in order to understand the craftsman’s experience and explore the embodied approach to _____, practice led research
In a phenomenological approach that puts the participant’s perceptions, emotions and experiences in center stage to provide qualitative research
images/screenshots of videos
diary notes, their drawings, photographs, weekly reflections and
the final reflections
Patterns in the making, such
as dividing hands into categories of active and perceiving, and metaphorical
language use were identified that may be of value in an educational setting. (Tactile augmentation: A multimethod for capturing
REWRITE THIS: To further enhance the challenge of the task, and thus
highlight the expertise and amount of embodied knowledge needed to perform the task, the clay
chosen was specifically difficult to handle and the amount of clay was unusually large. Multiple
methods were used for collecting data during the event, including video-recordings with
thinking aloud accounts, diary notes, and a contextual activity sampling system (CASS-Q
self-report questionnaire), as described in a previous article (Groth, Mäkelä, & Seitamaa-
Hakkarainen, 2015). The act of blindfolding was useful as it allowed the researcher-practitioner
to become more aware of the tactile information often taken for granted in the clay throwing
process. The sensory experiences became key in shedding light on the emotional feelings
connected with the touch and feel of the clay material at different stages.
impairment of another sensory modality; this made me realise that although the
making practices are predominantly tactile, we take much of our tactile experiences for
granted, and that we have much to gain by listening to our sensory experiences
However, there remains a lack of a comprehensive empirical model for how the
designer or craft practitioner uses his/her embodied knowledge in his/her design or making
process. This is understandable, as the topic is not easily approached. Any skill or prolonged
practical knowing involves a great deal of tacit knowledge that is not explicable (Polanyi,
1958; Niedderer, 2007; Biggs, 2004), and this makes the subject difficult to research
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Chow, L.T.I.a.K.K.N. (2018) ‘An Embodied Approach to Designing Meaningful Experiences with Ambient Media’, no. 1, pp. 1-19.
Cross, N. (2001) ‘Designerly Ways of Knowing: Design Discipline versus Design Science’, Design Issues, vol. Vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 49-55.
Damasio, A. (2000) ‘The feeling of what happens: Body and emotion in the making of consciousness’.
Gallace, A.&.S.C. (2008) ‘The cognitive and neural correlates of “tactile consciousness”: A multisensory perspective’, Consciousness and Cognition, pp. 370–407.
Goldinger, S.D. (2016) ‘The poverty of embodied cognition’, pp. 1-20.
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Henna Lahti, K.K.V.K.&.P.S.-H. (2013) ‘ Material mediation and embodied actions in collaborative design process ‘, p. 3.
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Newcombe, S.M.W.a.N.S. (2017) ‘Embodied cognition and STEM learning: overview of a topical collection in CR:PI’, pp. 2-3.
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Pirita, S.-H. (2008) ‘Making sense What can we learn from experts of tactile knowledge?’, pp. 1-12.
Pirita Seitamaa-Hakkarainen, M.H.M.M.C.G.a.K.H. (2016) ‘How can neuroscience help understand design and craft activity? The promise of cognitive neuroscience in design studies’, vol. Vol.9, no. Art 3, pp. 1-16.
Prins, K. (2015) ‘Materiality, Craft, Identity, and Embodiment: Reworking Digital Writing Pedagogy’, UWM Digital Commons, p. 127.
Scott R. Klemmer, B.H.L.T. (2006) ‘How Bodies Matter: Five Themes for Interaction Design’, pp. 1-10.
Seitamaa-Hakkarainen, C.G.a.M.M.a.P. (2016) ‘Tactile augmentation: A multimethod for capturing experiential knowledge’, pp. 1-21.