Riitta Hari & Camilla Groth

together with Veikko Jousmäki and Veli-Matti Saarinen:

“HANDS IN CLAY: Craft sciences meet neuroscience”

Bengt Molander:



ABSTRACT: For most of human history, generations were understood to overlap and to twist around one another longitudinally like the fibres of a rope. Increasingly today, however, successive generations are likened to strata, layered horizontally over one another. As a result, crafts once learned in everyday practice can be passed on only insofar as they can be represented in the form of algorithms which are transmissible independently of their lifetime achievement. What cannot be transmitted drops out. Among crafts on the endangered list is basketry. In this talk I show that basketry is no mere technique but a life process through which not only things but also people are as much grown as made. The basket, like the human community, is all-in-one. To restore baskets to life means rethinking the passage of generations. It means imagining a society in which the curiosity of the young and the wisdom of the elderly can once again come together in the making of a common world.

PROFILE: TIM INGOLD is Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen, and a Fellow of both the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Following 25 years at the University of Manchester, Ingold moved in 1999 to Aberdeen, where he went on to establish the UK’s newest Department of Anthropology. Ingold has carried out ethnographic fieldwork among Saami and Finnish people in Lapland, and has written on comparative questions of environment, technology and social organisation in the circumpolar North, as well as on the role of animals in human society, on issues in human ecology, and on evolutionary theory in anthropology, biology and history. He has subsequently explored the links between environmental perception and skilled practice, with a view to replacing traditional models of genetic and cultural transmission with a relational approach focusing on the growth of skills of perception and action within socio-environmental contexts of development. These ideas are presented in his book The Perception of the Environment (2000). In more recent research, Ingold has followed three lines of inquiry that emerged from his earlier work, concerning the dynamics of pedestrian movement, the creativity of practice, and the linearity of writing. These all came together in his book Lines (2007), along with three edited collections: Creativity and Cultural Improvisation (with Elizabeth Hallam, 2007), Ways of Walking (with Jo Lee Vergunst, 2008) and Redrawing Anthropology (2011), and in his collected essays, Being Alive (2011). Ingold has gone on to write and teach on issues on the interface between anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture, leading to his book, Making, published in 2013. In 2013-18 he directed the project Knowing From the Inside: Anthropology, Art, Architecture and Design, with funding from the European Research Council. Ingold’s latest books include The Life of Lines(2015), Anthropology and/as education (2017) and Anthropology: Why it Matters (2018).

Riitta Hari, Camilla Groth, Veli-Matti Saarinen & Veikko Jousmäki

KEYNOTE: HANDS IN CLAY: Craft sciences meet neuroscience

ABSTRACT: Our keynote is a dialogue between researchers of different backgrounds. CG, an experienced potter, throws a clay pot on a potter’s wheel while the neuroscientists (RH, VJ, and V-MS) use thermal camera and eye-tracking to monitor her behavior. Both parties first explain their interest in the clay throwing process. From the craft sciences point of view, clay throwing is representative of craft skills that contains abundant tacit and embodied knowledge; the expertise is transferred to others mainly nonverbally via master–apprentice relationships. From the neuroscience point of view, clay throwing—involving accurate sensorimotor hand control, haptics, and eye–hand coordination—provides an attractive, rather well controlled naturalistic task that allows generalization of neuroscientific and behavioral findings from strictly controlled laboratory settings into every-day situations. The audience is able to follow the process of clay throwing and the simultaneous measurements of eye gaze (with an eye-tracking camera) and clay temperature (with thermal camera). In addition to being of interest to the neuroscientists, these measures—complemented with e.g. electromyography and hand acceleration data—might allow practitioner–researchers in crafts to more accurately specify the subjective aspects of the making process and thereby to better communicate the skill to others. The results could also help to cumulate craft-making knowledge, provided that similar setups were repeated in a large number of conditions and subjects. A good start for fruitful collaboration between disciplines is to work together, at the same time trying to clarify concepts, because dialogues are possible only with a common language. Our ultimate goal would be to narrow the split between craft sciences and neuroscience to enrich both parties and to better understand the role of the potter as an embodied agent in the making process.


Riitta Hari MD PhD is Professor Emerita at Aalto University, Finland. She was trained in medicine and clinical neurophysiology at the University of Helsinki and has been carrying out research on systems-level neuroscience and human brain imaging since early 1980s. Her team is well known for the development of magnetoencephalography (MEG) for tracking activation sequences in the human brain, with fundamental insights into human sensory, motor, cognitive, and social functions and with applications in both basic research and clinical diagnostics. Hari is Academician of Science in Finland since 2010 and the member of the National Academy of Sciences USA since 2004. Hari’s prizes include The Olav Thon Foundation International Prize (Norway, 2018), Finnish Science Prize (2009), Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine (Switzerland, 2003), Matti Äyräpää Prize by the Finnish Medical Association Duodecim (2001), and Award for the Advancement of European Science (Germany, 1987). In 2019, Hari delivered the prestigious Talairach lecture on “Timing matters” (Meeting of the Organization of Human Brain Mapping; Rome, Italy). For her multidisciplinary efforts, Hari has received honoris causa doctorates in science (2003), medicine (2005), and technology (2016). She is currently affiliated to both the Department of Art and the Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering, Aalto University, as an emerita, attempting to bridge art and neuroscience without privileging either.

Camilla Groth DA (Doctor of Arts) is a practitioner-researcher and teacher with a traditional training in ceramic crafts. Her ceramic and glass work have been exhibited in Tokyo, London, Paris, New York and Helsinki and is bought by the Finnish State Art Commission. Camilla’s Doctoral thesis, defended at the Aalto University Department of Design, is about craft and design practitioner’s experiential knowledge. Her main research interests lie in haptic experiences and experiential knowing in creative practices, with a focus on material engagement and embodiment. She recently conducted her Post doc at the Gothenburg University in a shared position between the Department of Conservation and HDK-Valand Academy of Art and Design, department of Crafts. In this project she continued studying methodological and theoretical aspects of craft practices and craft research. She now holds an Associate professor position in arts, design and crafts at the Department of Visual and Performing Arts Education, University of South-Eastern Norway where she is leading the Embodied Making and Learning (EMAL) research group.

Veikko Jousmäki Veikko Jousmäki PhD is a senior scientist and head of the Aalto NeuroImaging, research-dedicated human neuroimaging infrastructure at Aalto University (Espoo, Finland). He is a physicist with a background in medical physics from Kuopio University, Finland. Jousmäki has also worked as a part-time visiting professor at the Swedish national for magnetoencephalography (NatMEG) at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet (Stockholm, Sweden). In addition, he has contributed to MEG training across the world as a certified MEG trainer for Finnish MEG vendor MEGIN Oy. Currently, he is working part-time as honorary visiting scientist at CoNiC, Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) and certified MEG trainer for MEGIN Oy. His main interests are in MEG-compatible monitoring devices and stimulators, e.g., multifilament optic fibers in MEG for stimulation and triggering purposes, non-magnetic accelerometers in MEG for monitoring active and passive hand movements and correlated brain activity, and pneumatic artificial muscles for computer-controlled passive movements of fingers and toes. He has introduced the use of accelerometers in picking up the utterances in MEG and navigated TMS. At NatMEG, Veikko has contributed to several research projects in progress introducing new MEG-compatible stimulators, such as computer-controlled pneumatic robot for stimulating tactile C fibers and proprioceptive system, and eliciting rubber hand illusions.

Veli-Matti Saarinen MSc is Research Engineer at Aalto University.  He was graduated in Automation and System technology at the former Helsinki University of Technology. He worked several years in the Brain Research Unit as an eye tracking specialist. Currently he is managing Aalto Behavioral Laboratory (ABL) in Aalto NeuroImaging infrastructure. ABL has various stimulus and monitoring devices for human behavior research, including: Eye Tracking, Electroencephalography, Electromyography, ThermalImaging and VirtualReality.  Veli-Matti is responsible of everything that happens in the lab, including technical support, technical development and documentation.

Bengt Molander. Image: Courtesy of Bengt Molander


PROFILE: BENGT MOLANDER is professor of philosophy at NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim. His main research interest is such forms of knowledge that are expressed not primarily in words but through human practices and their results, such forms that are typically called “practical” or “tacit”. His main work in this field is The Practice of Knowing and Knowing in Practices (Peter Lang 2015).

ABSTRACT: In my talk I will take up two themes. The first is to discuss what idea of “science” is the most fruitful for the growth and development of the craft sciences. This may also imply changes of the received view of what science and scientific knowledge are. A science is after all something made by human beings and can be remade by human beings.

     My second theme is the notion of theory, with an emphasis on crafting theory, in the sense of both the craft of making theory and theory of, in and for the crafts. I will focus on theory as an orientation system for us as acting persons, talking together included, and theory as a means for keeping in touch with the world around us. If a theory makes things foreign to us, it may be a good result, but not as the final result.

The recording of the keynotes

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