Kate Steiner

P1140158Generally this was a dynamic, multi-faceted workshop presented with real passion, and using different tools (video, conversation, tool demonstration, making activities) which was not only lively and inspiring but demonstrated the very emotional connections to tools and processes that were being discussed. A very enjoyable evening with excellent presenters.


The evening raised several questions in my mind relating to the emotional engagement with objects

  • Emotional responsiveness seemed to be linked to a very sensory experience of the person using the tools e.g. the clicking of the surgical instruments, the movements and texture of organic tissue, the feel and temperature of artistic materials. Is there work showing how emotional responses are linked to sensory information? E.g. I think that the sense of smell is closely located to memory centres and hence strongly involved in emotional recollection?
  • There has been quite a lot of work on the state of ‘Flow’ the totally absorbed and focused state that accompanies creative /deep learning experiences (e.g. footballers, chess-players, artists experience this). This was alluded too when presenters described the almost addictive pleasure of a particular activity, describing passion and absorption. I’ve seen this described as a very individual experience so I found Roger’s suggestion that this could be a shared state (e.g. the non-verbal understanding and flow of the retired surgical team) particularly interesting. I wonder if there is any research on this?
  • A question was asked about whether we can reconstruct historical emotions. We didn’t really talk about socially mediated norms and taboos which would influence the type and degree of emotion people feel in different eras. For example, the rise of sensitivity in the 18th and 19th century which saw the end of public hangings and rise of Victorian taboos about bodily exposure would surely influence the emotions surrounding surgery?
  • There was some interesting discussion about how the level of skill and familiarity with tools, materials and processes would alter the emotions of those involved. It would be interesting to track changes in emotions as skill increases.

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