Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Workshop in Kolding, Denmark

Five members of the Embodied Making and Learning Research Group at Telemark University College and Buskerud/Vestfold University College are these tree days in Kolding, Denmark to participate in the EkSIG biannual conference and have a research strategic workshop. From the left: Marte Sørebø Gulliksen, Brynjar Olavsson, Kari Carlsen, Biljana C. Fredriksen and Kirstine Riis.

On the boat towards Denmark, we put in several good working hours updating ourselves on the situation in all our research strategic "task forces", and planning which move to do next on project acquisition and -development. This strategic framework will form the background of what we hear and discuss during the conference.

EkSIG is the acronym of Design Research Society's Special Interest Group for Experiential Learning. The title of this year's conference is “Tangible Means - experiential knowledge through materials”, see: 

Marte get to present her paper on the very first day of the conference. The title of the presentation was :Why making matters – an exploration of neurobiological perspectives on woodcarving. The full text version of the paper can be found in the conference proceedings from page 59ff.

The conference venue is something special, the Design School of Kolding:

...and the conference kit was something out of the ordinary....

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Temasesjon om Embodied Making and Learning på DRS-Brighton, 2016
EMAL har fått godkjent temasesjon på den store verdenskongressen til Design Research Society i 2016. Konferansen holdes annet hvert år og vil i 2016 foregå i Brighton, UK.

EMAL arrangerer sesjonen i samarbeid med personer fra vårt internasjonale forskergruppekonsortium opprettet på symposiet vi holdt ved LearnXDesign2015-konferansen i juni 2015 i Chicago.

Call for full paper har deadline 16. november, så vi venter i spenning på å se hvor mange papere temaet vårt får. Interessen i feltet er stor - vi ble oppfordret fra flere eksterne til å søke om en temasesjon, så vi ser fram til juni.



Marte Sørebø Gulliksen, Telemark University College, Norway


Pirita Seitamaa Hakkarainen, Helsinki University, Finland
Maarit Mäkelä, Aalto University, Finland
Kirstine Riis, Telemark University College, Norway
Camilla Groth, Helsinki University, Finland

Being immersed in a design process is an embodied process of making. In this proposed thematic session we will call for papers that 1) explore the phenomenon embodied making and the conditions for it within the wide spectrum of design processes, and 2) how embodied making contribute to learning during the design process. The term ‘design processes’ is used in a broad sense: the focus is on the act of making, and the maker could thus be everyone engaged in creative processes making objects in a material (ranging from children’s whittling to the professional carpenter, from the amateur knitter to the professional ceramist).

Papers presented in this thematic session will explore the basic conditions and consequences of being a body in the world, experiencing and learning through working in materials. Possible topics could be related to e.g. following keywords: making, creativity, and role of the body in design practice. We encourage papers on interdisciplinary approaches and within a variety of methods.

The context of the thematic session is the collective endeavors of a research consortium formally established at the LearnXDesign2015-conference in Chicago, June 2015 by researchers from three research groups in Norway, Finland and Canada. At that conference, the consortium held a full-day open symposium. Papers from that symposium will be published prior to the DRS-conference as a special issue of FORMakademisk.

The aim of the thematic session is twofold. First, it will be a meeting point of researchers from a variety of backgrounds to jointly share and discuss their insights and ideas on the theme within the Design Research Society, and secondly it will be a forum for the research consortium to present their research to the larger DRS-community.


Gulliksen, M. S. (2015). Creative Cognition and Embodied Making. Paper presentation at LearnXDesign2015
Niedderer, K. (2013). "Explorative Materiality and Knowledge. The Role of Creative Exploration and Artefacts in Design Research." FORMakademisk 6(2): 1-20.
Lopata, J. A. (2014). Creativity as a mental state: An EEG study of musical improvisation. The School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. London, Ontario, Canada, University of Western Ontario. PhD: 161.
Mäkelä, Maarit (2007). Knowing through making: The role of the artefact in practice-led research. Knowledge, Technology & Policy, 20(3), 157-163.
Seitamaa-Hakkarainen, P., et al. (2014). The promise of cognitive neuroscience in design studies. DRS2014. Umeå, Sweden.

Monday, June 29, 2015

EMAL and our new informal consortium at LearnXDesign2015

All facilitators from the three research groups organizing the Embodied making and design learning at the LearnXDesign2015-conference, 28. june 2015. From the left:

Brynjar Olavsson (HiT, Norway), Joel Lopata (Western, Canada), Pirita Seitamaa-Hakkarainen (Helsinki University, Finland), Marte S. Gulliksen (HiT, Norway), Maarit Mäkelä (Aalto University, Finland), Catharine Dihske-Hondzel (Huron College, Canada), Tellervo Härkki (Helsinki University, Finland), Camilla Groth (Aalto University, Finland)

We plan to make as many as possible of our presentations available from our blogs. We are also developing our papers into articles that will be published as a Special Issue in the research journal FORMakademisk. 
Presentation slides for the symposium is published at Gulliksen's page.

Marte S. Gulliksen's paperpresentation, direct link to pdf from This paper was on the woodcarver's experience of carving and in particular the neurobiological basis for the carver's memory. During the presentation I showed this little bowl, which I carved while writing the paper: 


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Symposium: Embodied Making and Design Learning, LearnXDesign2015

We are proud to announce that EMAL will be co-hosting a symposium at the LearnXDesign2015-conference in Chicago 28.-30. june. The symposium takes place Sunday the 28th. If you have the opportunity, please join us!

Professor, Telemark University College, Norway

Professor, University of Helsinki, Finland

Associate Professor, Aalto University, Finland

PhD, Western University, Canada

PhD, Western University, Canada

Camilla GROTH
Research Fellow, Aalto University, Finland

Tellervo HÄRKKI
Research Fellow, University of Helsinki, Finland

The aim of the symposium is to discuss the role of embodied making in design learning. Embodied making is a term used to describe the united mind/body and its experience while making artifacts or engaging in other creative activities with materials. One main aim within this topic is to explore the basic conditions and consequences of being a body in the world, experiencing and learning through working in materials. The theme is approached through an interdisciplinary approach using a variety of methods, like video recordings, neuro-scientific methods, and stimulated recall just to mention a few examples. The facilitators of the symposium come from a variety of backgrounds, like humanities and social sciences – in particular art and design, design education and craft science, educational neuroscience and phenomenology.

The facilitators are all presenting papers and contribute in the discussions. They are all leaders of or members in research groups within the topic: The Embodied Making and Learning research group, Telemark University College, Norway; the Handling Mind research consortium, Aalto University, Finland; and the Human Ingenuity Research Group, Western, Ontario, Canada. Also participating are PhD-students from each group, some attending the conference, others participating online from their home institutions.

The symposium aims at bringing these central researchers and research leaders together to discuss both the selected topics of embodied cognition in making and design learning and future possibilities for uniting the human capital of each group in a global, co-owned research project.
The symposium is open to other researchers at the LearnxDesign conference as audience to the presentations and participants in the plenary discussions.

The symposium has a duration of four hours and is organized in the four sessions available on the first day of the learnxdesign2015-conference: Sunday 28th June . The first three sessions will be streamed online and members of the three research groups are especially invited to attend from their home institutions.
9:45am - 10:45am
 Creative cognition and embodied making Marte S. Gulliksen, Professor, Telemark University College, Norway
This paper revisit previous research on the maker’s experience when working in materials and discusses this in light of new research on creative cognition and the neurological basis of making.

Creating the space/conditions for creativity Joel Lopata, PhD, Western University, Canada
Recent research shows that increased frontal brain activity is related to internal focus of attention (Buzsaki & Draguhn, 2004; Klimesch et al., 2007; Ward, 2003), creative thinking (Fink et al., 2009), and creative products (Lopata, 2014). These processes are reminiscent of improvising artists’ descriptions of the creative process (Berkowitz, 2007). In this talk Dr. Joel Lopata presents neuroscientific research, contending that internal focus of attention is the key condition for creative flow.

Embodied making and creative practice Maarit Mäkelä, Associate Professor, Aalto University
Recently, artists and designers have taken an active role in contextualising the creative process as it relates to their practice. Thus, understanding how the creative mind proceeds has been supplemented with knowledge attained inside the creative process. This presentation is based on documentation of my creative practice in contemporary ceramic art that occurred at the beginning of 2015

11:00am - 12:00pm
What neuroscience can tell us about skill learning in craft: The promise of cognitive neuroscience in making Pirita Seitamaa-Hakkarainen, Professor, University of Helsinki, Finland
Handling Mind; Embodiment, Creativity and Design project aimed at using novel neuroscientific methods for studying creative, embodied processes and skill learning. We discuss the challenges and opportunities that use of brain imaging methods, especially, provides for understanding design activities.

Engaging users in the design of post-secondary teaching and learning spaces Catharine Dishke-Hondzel, PhD, Western University, Canada
University teaching and learning spaces have a variety of users with diverse needs. Simultaneously physical, technological, and psychological, space influences learning opportunities, including pedagogy and access to information. This paper discusses a year-long investigation of teaching and learning spaces designed to better identify constraints and opportunities for growth and programming.
Round-table discussion

2:45pm - 3:45pm
Design and craft thinking analyzed as a form of embodied cognition Camilla Groth, Research Fellow, Aalto University, Finland
This session presents three cases where craft- and design practices are analyzed as forms of embodied cognition. The first case involves ceramic workshops with deafblind makers. The second case involves a Practice-Led study on tactile augmentation in ceramic craft practice. The third case is examining the role of the knowing body, in design students’ material exploration process.
Approaching embodied experience of materials and materiality Härkki Tellervo, Research Fellow, University of Helsinki, Finland
We studied students’ relationship with materials and materiality, especially focusing on embodied experience. These experiences manifest themselves in multimodal expressions: gestures, body postures and speech acts. A qualitative video analysis method was developed to identify these expressions and their linkages with inherent or associative qualities, materials and materiality.
Round-table discussion

SESSION 4: WORKSHOP (1H – CLOSED SESSION for convenors only)
4:15pm - 5:15pm

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Updated description of EMAL

(English version to come) Official web page:

 Mennesket har til enhver tid arbeidet med å lage ting, og å skape mening og uttrykk gjennom materialer. Evnen til å skape bedre materialer og gjenstander er en åpenbar
betingelse for overlevelse. På et grunnleggende plan har evnen til å lage ting og å uttrykke seg gjennom materialer betydning for menneskets utvikling: Koblingen mellom motoriske ferdigheter som trenes opp og den sekvensielle forståelsen som kreves for å kunne utføre de riktige handlingene i riktig rekkefølge har sannsynligvis vært en vesentlig faktor i å forme hjernen til slik den er i dag. Det å delta i en skapende praksis har derfor også en klar sammenheng med læring og endring.
I forskergruppen EMAL studerer vi menneskets skapende og deltakende møter med materialer i verden i dag. Dette beskriver vi som en praksis: embodied making. Gruppens mål er å utvikle kunnskap som kan forklare denne praksisen og forstå hvilken rolle denne har for enkeltpersoner og for dagens samfunn, hvorfor den for mange oppleves som så viktig, og hva vi eventuelt taper dersom vi ikke lenger utøver denne praksisen. Denne kunnskapen vil ha som hovedformål å bidra til bedre læring og undervisning knyttet til embodied making. Dagens samfunn har andre krav til menneskets evne til å arbeide med å lage ting enn for noen få år siden. Utdanningssystemet har lenge vært preget av den vestlige filosofiske tradisjons skille av hånden og hjernen. I forskergruppen EMAL ser vi derimot på hånd og hjerne som en helhet, og søker å utvikle vitenskapelig grunnlag for politikere til å gjøre gode utdanningspolitiske valg.

Området har to hoveddeler:
- det foreliggende faktiske grunnlaget for embodied making og
- de praktiske konsekvenser av dette grunnlaget

Forskningsgruppen nærmer seg temaet gjennom to valgte perspektiv:
- et estetisk perspektiv (både i betydning estetikk som sensitiv erkjennelse og som fagområder), følgelig mer spesifikt enn studier av kropp og mening i et generelt handlings- og bevegelsesperspektiv.
- et didaktisk perspektiv (hvilke konsekvenser embodied making har for endring, læring og undervisning av barn, elever og studenter) i motsetning til for eksempel et samfunnsvitenskapelig eller kulturteoretisk perspektiv.

Siden området til EMAL er bredt sammensatt, vil en sentral aktivitet i forskergruppen være kontinuerlig å tegne kart over forskningsfeltets mulige innhold, kjernepunkter, grenseganger gjennom jevnlige diskusjoner. Dette kommer i tillegg til undergruppenes forskningsprosjekter og de nye fellesprosjekter som utvikles.

Gruppen som helhet griper bredt over flere forskningsdisipliner ved å koble kunnskap og metoder fra de disiplinene som kan være relevante for å forstå praksisen. Dette innebærer at både kunstnerisk utviklingsarbeid og forskningsmetoder som rommer et deltakerperspektiv (å forske gjennom selv å være skapende deltaker) er inkludert i forskergruppen. Tilnærmingen kan relateres til en vitenskapsforståelse kalt Mode 2 (Gibbons m.fl. 1994) og begrepene transdisciplinarity og interdisciplinarity (Nowotny, 2004; Klein, 2001).
Vår tverrfaglige tilnærming har i utgangspunktet ingen klare avgrensning til hvilke tradisjonelle forskningsdisipliner som kan være relevante. På den annen side kan det pekes på noen disipliner som er mer sentrale enn andre:
  • Disipliner innen filosofien, i hovedsak persepsjonsfenomenologi og erkjennelsesteori
  • Disipliner innen psykologi og biologi, i hovedsak utdanningspsykologi og educational neuroscience.
  • Forskningsdisipliner innen det tverrfaglige profesjonsfeltet utdanning, i hovedsak fagdidaktikk i kunst og håndverk og lærerutdanning.
  • Forskningsdisipliner innen det tverrfaglige kulturfeltet, i hovedsak knyttet til HiTs PhD-program i kulturstudier og fagområder innen design, kunst og håndverk.
Pågående forskerprosjekter i EMAL:
Marte S. Gulliksen: Creative cognition and embodied making. Koblet til HIRG-forskergruppen ved Western University, Canada. Marte on LinkedIN; Marte's University web-page

Pågående PhD-prosjekter i EMAL:
Kirstine Riis: Designkundskab. (NTNU og NAFOL)
Anne Solberg: «Scholarship and Doctorateness in the Making Disciplines» (PhD-kulturstudier v/HiT) Koblet til en internasjonal forskergruppe: Laila B. Fauske (HiOA), Fredrik Nilsson (Chalmers), Halna Dunin-Woyseth (AHO og Chalmers).
Åsta Rimstad: Teikn- og meiningsskaping i studentars arbeid med installasjonar(tilknyttet UiT)
Kari Carlsen: Forming i barnehagen og førskolelærerens kompetanse (Åbo universitet),
Anniken Randers-Pehrsson: Læringsrom i grunnskolefaget Kunst og håndverk (Universitetet i Oslo)
Sissel Bro: Body – Space – Movement (AHO/NTNU)

Andre medlemmer i EMAL:

Ann-Marlene Johansson; Ingrid Holmboe Høibo; Lovise Søyland; Jadwiga Blaszczyk-Podowska.

Assosierte medlemmer: 

Gry Eli Uhlin-Engstu; Berit Ingebrethsen; Jostein Sandven; Ella Melbye; Brynjar Olavsson; Ellen Baskår