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The Hand: Gesture, Touch and Emotion Symposium

 Preparatory Drawings for Young Jesus with the Doctors, Albrecht Dürer, 1506.

Preparatory Drawings for Young Jesus with the Doctors, Albrecht Dürer, 1506.

Date: Tuesday 13 August 2013
Time: 1.00pm - 5:30pm
Venue: Eileen Joyce Studio, School of Music, The University of Western Australia.
Presenters:
CHAIR: PROF. BOB WHITE
    DR FARAH KARIM-COOPER (Shakespeare’s Globe)
    PROF. IAN DONALDSON (U.Melbourne)
CHAIR: PROF. JANE DAVIDSON
    TANATCHAPORN KITTIKONG (WAAPA)
    MIN ZHU (WAAPA)
    SONIA NAIR (WAAPA)
    PROF. RICHARD READ (UWA)
CHAIR: DR PENELOPE WOODS (UWA)
    PROF. SUSAN BROOMHALL (UWA)
    PROF. MICHAEL MCCARTHY (SHIPWRECK MUSEUM, WA)
    DR FRAN BARBE (WAAPA)
    PROF. COLIN MCLEOD (UWA)
    DR LIES NOTEBAERT (UWA)

The hand is a complex historical phenomenon. It is the pre-eminent, and emblematic, conduit for the sense perception of touch. This itself is arguably the most complex of the senses encompassing skin surface sensation, but also pain perception, temperature perception and, most intriguing of all, proprioception [the ‘inner’ image of one’s physical body in the world]. 

doubting thomas

Touch plays a significant role in perception and epistemological understandings of the world. Caravaggio’s painting of “The Incredulity of St Thomas” (1602-3) illustrates the place of touch in regimes of knowing and belief. Touch, and the handling of artefacts, play a significant role in methodologies and epistemologies of material culture research today. However, the hand also functions as a conduit of visual, emotional signification in the form of gesture.

Gesture, which was first itemized by John Bulwer in the Chirologia in 1644, has been a means of semantic and emotional communication for societies through history. Gesture has been employed in dance, theatre, oratory and opera, responding to cultural shifts in tastes and fashions of expression. It also serves as the basis for sign language, or Auslan.

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