Mirroring communities through Art and Design
Dates: 30 Nov – 3 Dec 2021
Venue: University of Lapland, with parallel online exhibition and presentations
With the aim of bringing together a range of arts and design-based activities, perspectives and approaches the University of Lapland will host a hybrid conference and exhibition to foster collaboration, and share and develop new ideas in response to the ongoing global turbulence which is impacting most significantly on youth in marginalized contexts and their communities. We hope to contribute to the ongoing debates around the value of arts-based action and research in achieving sustainable change, social and economic marginalization experienced by youth and how we might work together to anticipate and confront challenges which urgently require innovative ideas, methods and outcomes.
In particular, the conference invites proposals and contributions from communities, their members and leaders, alongside designers, academics, practitioners and policy experts so that we can build collaboration that confronts and tests the potential for change that emerges from dialogue which is driven by shared experiences and skills. To do this, the conference aims to make use of a concept of 'mirroring' as the means both to reflect upon the diverse set of contributions and also as a way to facilitate new connections and inspire new relationships.
Central to the conference is a core question: 'What might a model or methods of 'mirroring' mean and become through its development and application through art and design research?'. We hope to encounter a variety of ways that participants and contributors can demonstrate diverse and wide-ranging uses of this idea which will help reveal the potential for further possible practices of mirroring. We also look forward to opportunities for discussion and the development of the mirroring concept as a way to establish spaces and build bridges for dialogue, conversation and collaboration among global youth when it is applied across geographical distances. We are keen to explore how mirroring might be further used as a potent political tool across the arts and in terms of design so that it can help inspire or influence social movements. We also hope to encourage innovations which explore how care, responsibilities and relationships might become central to our ways of approaching and utilizing mirroring in the contexts of arts-based and design methods.
The concept of mirroring has much to offer in terms of how it can be utilized within and outside of individual academic contexts or disciplines. It allows us to recognize or acknowledge empathy, intersubjectivity and understanding in our own actions, and in those of others (Zahavi 2012). Neurologically, the large scale networks and mirroring mechanisms in the human brain create the basis for a social mirroring (Iacoboni 2007) while also contributing to motion, emotion and empathy which create the aesthetic experience (Freedberg & Gallese 2007).
Interpersonally, mirroring can embody action which, when used as movement in performance or dance, can create emotional understanding and empathy for others (McGarry & Russo 2011). We can also see instances of mirroring in structural and organized social relations through our interactions or correspondences as members of a community, and through society and culture. Indeed, since mirroring acts upon social perception multidimensionally, its potential can expand beyond straightforward comparison (Hřebíčková, Graf, Tegdes & Brezina 2017).
Mirroring, therefore, can contribute to achieving social empathy and an understanding of others (Segal 2018), and can be practiced as part of a variety of tacit social interactions (Hasson & Frith 2016). Further, through acts and actions which work to mirror our own views, values and ideas with those of others we are able to learn socially. Such a pluralistic and heterogeneous approach, we believe, will promise and contribute more to creative processes and solutions than if we continue to remain fixed upon homogeneity and the limitations of 'singularism' (Wals 2010).
Conference format, program and 'mirroring' approach
The conference contributions will be organized around a series of themed panels which will be programmed on the basis of the keywords and content of each of the accepted proposals. As mentioned, given the nature of the conference, and our desire to emphasize the positive opportunities for dialogue and discussion among the panel and between attendees, for each of the programmed sessions we will invite all contributors to pre-record a 5 - 7 minute presentation which summarizes their contribution. This will allow each thematic panel to be focused upon a discussion of the possible connections between contributions, and that the development of these would take place within the conference itself so that this dialogue and its consequences for ‘mirroring’ is at the heart of our endeavors. The collaborative conversations and discussion that results from the thematic panels will be edited, published and distributed as a ‘proceedings-in-process’ at the end of each day, so that any opportunities to pick up or cross-reference the previous day’s dialogue is available for all participants.
Here is a link to the conference program.
Formal conference proceedings will be produced afterwards so that the full range of contributions and their development within the conference is documented and disseminated. Publication will take place across two tracks, reflecting our wish to include a range of contributions – there will be a peer-reviewed special issue of Deep Journal accompanied by a collation of contributions, artwork, fragments of dialogue and real-time responses which will be generated before and over the course of the conference itself.
Conference Chair: Satu Miettinen
Academic Chair: Mari Cecília Loschiavo dos Santos
Program Chairs: Jean-François Vachon and Anne Marchand
Proceeding Chairs: Rosana Vasques, Paul Wilson and Tang Tang
Exhibition Chair: Katri Konttinen
Poster Chair: Solen Roth
Student Volunteer Chair: Rafael Szafir Goldstein
•Freedberg, D., & Gallese, V. (2007). Motion, emotion and empathy in esthetic experience. Trends in cognitive sciences, 11(5), 197–203.
•Hasson, U., & Frith, C. D. (2016). Mirroring and beyond: coupled dynamics as a generalized framework for modelling social interactions. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 371(1693), 20150366.
•Iacoboni, M. (2007). Face to face: The neural basis of social mirroring and empathy. Psychiatric Annals, 37(4).
•McGarry, L. M., & Russo, F. A. (2011). Mirroring in dance/movement therapy: Potential mechanisms behind empathy enhancement. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 38(3), 178–184.
•Segal, E. A. (2018). Social empathy: The art of understanding others. Columbia University Press.
•Wals, A. E. (2010). Mirroring, Gestaltswitching and transformative social learning: Stepping stones for developing sustainability competence. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education.
•Zahavi D. (2012) Empathy and mirroring: Husserl and Gallese. In: Breeur R., Melle U. (eds) Life, Subjectivity & Art. Phaenomenologica (Published Under the Auspices of the Husserl-Archives), vol 201. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-2211-8_9.