Embodied Knowing

Exploring the Handcraft of Expertise

Embodied Knowing brings together experts in science, medicine, and the arts to explore the work they do with their hands.

The project began in Spring 2017 with a symposium at the Art Workers’ Guild entitled Thinking with your Hands. A second, larger symposium The Art of Performing Science, Analogies across Disciplines took place at Imperial College London with top academics from the Victoria & Albert Museum, Natural History Museum, Royal College of Music, and other institutions.

In the second symposium, interactive workshops with more than 60 clinicians, artists and scientists prompted wide-ranging discussions around shared experience. Jewellery designers sat with dentists, dance therapists with taxidermists, surgeons with letter-cutters, and many more. Talks by invited speakers were facilitated by CPS Director Roger Kneebone and project researcher Claudia Schlegel (Berner Bildungszentrum Pflege, Switzerland). Cross-disciplinary ideas were shared between professions. For instance, a leading chef demonstrated the concept of mise en place, showing how the setup of a professional kitchen can be transferred to the laboratory of a molecular biologist. A Swiss astrophysicist and Imperial’s mechanical instrumentation workshop manager of the Solar Orbital talked about collaboration for success. Further talks showed how methods of work from different disciplines could be incorporated into experts’ individual practices. A ‘textile body’ created by 3D embroiderer Fleur Oakes transported visitors to the operating theatre, using yellow wool as subcutaneous fat and antique lace to represent the frail skin of an elderly patient. An immersive film using virtual reality headsets captured an artist’s studio, underlining Imperial’s commitment to technological innovation. Conversations from the symposium continue over podcast, films, and social media, capturing the excitement of the day.

Embodied Knowing aims to encourage new ways to think about knowing and new opportunities for collaboration.

Project team

Roger Kneebone, Imperial (PI)
Claudia Schlegel, BZ Pflege
Sarah Yorke, Imperial

Learn more

Listen to the project members discuss Embodied Knowing in The Art of Performing Science

Listen to Roger Kneebone explain how experts work with their hands on the Imperial College Podcast.

Follow the project via the Imperial College Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science Twitter page @ICCESS_Imperial and LinkedIn page Embodied Knowing. #embodiedknowing.