Working with Hands: Surprised with the Common, Accustomed to the Strange

By Atxu Amann y Alcocer and Katerina Psegiannaki.

Published by The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review

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Last November, in the School of Architecture of Madrid, a heterogeneous group formed by twenty students and six teachers from different academic backgrounds and nationalities shared an intensive workshop whose title "Working With Hands" did not clear up its real intentions, which were to set hands in the center of human activity, from the daily survival level to the artistic one, considered as makers, models, mediums, and instruments in art. Defamiliarization-estrangement*: Could hands be understood far from our own body experience? A gradual defamiliarization process that ensured to achieve this difficult goal was set off. Estrangement experience like a scientific approach to reality is based on the consideration that any identity must be placed out of us in order to be known critically and independently from our daily lives and beliefs. First action; then reflection: We developed strategically diverse actions that removed gradually different knowledge levels in order to avoid global perceptions we are accustomed to. We worked first without sight, then without voice, later without hearing, finally without prejudices and restricting thoughts. Cartography: Once we had finally managed to consider hands as images, we made a cartography by creating partial conceptual maps. Diverse layers of images organized in unexpected categories allowed us to discover new relationships among unknown variables and parameters about hands, while old categories were getting destroyed. What a hand is?: With our endless but finished atlas, we tried to establish the limits and define our research object: a hand is anything different from those things that are not hands. Conclusion: World as an atlas. "Working with Hands" was an active metaphoric course where we came to approach the world around us through actions of defamilarization from everyday life, in order to fuzzy the boundaries by including variables that prevent our maps from leaving out "the others". *Defamiliarization=Estrangement

Keywords: Action Pedagogy, Defamiliarization, Hands Cartography

The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review, Volume 7, pp.69-80. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 499.943KB).

Atxu Amann y Alcocer

Associate Professor, Department of Architectural Graphic Ideation, Technical Superior School of Architecture, Madrid Polytechnic University, Madrid, Spain

Atxu is an architect from the Technical Superior School of Architecture of Madrid. She is an associated professor in the Technical Superior School of Architecture of Madrid in the Department of Architectural Graphic Ideation. She received the Award for Educational Innovation 2009 from the Polytechnic University of Madrid. She is an origin member of the educational innovation group "Hypermedia, workshop space configuration", consolidated in the Department of Architectural Graphic ideation of the Polytechnic University of Madrid.

Katerina Psegiannaki

PhD Student, Department of Architectural Graphic Ideation, Technical Superior School of Architecture, Madrid Polytechnic University, Madrid, Spain

I am an architect and graduated from the Democritus University of Thrace, Greece (2005). I have an advanced studies diploma from Department of Architectural Graphic Ideation of Technical Superior School of Architecture of Madrid(2009). I am currently a PhD student at the the same school and department. I am a founding member and director of HipoTesis magazine.