Looking at the ILSSA hand-mind essay that I’m working on this morning, and I see that although progress has been made, it remains a bunch of tenuously connected ideas. Here are a few of them, far from perfect, coherent, or done:

The example above [below on this blog], of an observational painting exercise, is quite literal as a representation of both “mind” and “hand.” But “hand,” or the use of it, does not necessarily have to be tied to the body part. “Hand” does not strictly mean the manipulation of something physical—although any interaction with a linguistic or conceptual object is mediated somehow, often through technology, like the typing and typesetting of this essay. “Hand” essentially means active or engaged. When someone writes or critiques the discourse of any given field, they are participating in it, manipulating the field and its (linguistic/symbolic) objects. Any act of participatory creation involves “the hand,” in its broad sense, at some level—and thus the hand becomes the mind, and the mind becomes the hand.

The hand and mind are connected, and that connection is attention.

The work of the hand allows for a “making strange” in the mind. The act of construction forces the mind into an observation of reality, of the here and now of an object being built. The observations of the mind refine the work of the hand against and to the mind’s original projected ideal. Every creative act is a continuous mediation and remediation between the ideal of the original idea (generated in the mind) and the reality of the thing-in-the-world (generated by the hand). The constantly attentive attention of the hand-mind feedback loop generates new knowledge, or reinforces/refines things already known. That knowledge extends the attention paid into the future, to new activities, new objects, new meanings-in-waiting.

The hand-mind feedback loop is analogous to the artist-audience feedback loop. The artist, engaging their own individual hand-mind, acts as the experimental, knowledge gathering hand of the culture. The audience members (at once individual and collective) engage their hand-minds to construct new knowledge/meaning from the objects made and presented to them. This new knowledge/meaning travels back to the artist, and is refined and manipulated further. The social space of art is a constant cycle of production. The social space of art is the feedback loop between artist and audience.

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