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Do you see how I feel and… - University of Gothenburg, Sweden Till startsida
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Do you see how I feel and can you feel it? An autoethnographic study on how mirror neurons guide the art-work in a collaborating art project

Conference contribution
Authors Margaretha Häggström
Malena Wallin
Charlotta Gavelin
Published in INSEA 2019: Making, Vancouver
Publication year 2019
Published at School of Design and Crafts
Department of Pedagogical, Curricular and Professional Studies
Language en
Keywords Art-based research, Collaborating art project, Portraits, Mirror neurons, Theory of mind
Subject categories Visual Arts, Arts, Pedagogical Work, Learning, Educational Sciences


Throughout the ages, artists have painted self-portraits as an attempt to identify themselves. Who am I and who am I when I am joining a certain group of people? Likewise, in school education, self-portrait creation has been a traditional standard assignment. Correct proportions, realistic drawings and objectivity were the aim striving for. However, today self-portrait is used to expressing oneself in a more subjective and creative way. Mirroring oneself, the student is empowered to observe and scrutinize the notion of self in an unbiased way in contrast to the critical self-image of everyday life. Apart from learning the human anatomy and how to use pictorial techniques, students develop their self-awareness and knowledge of identity and may thus be able to express an alternative image of self. To develop the social self-concept, we need experiences of encountering the other (Hall, 1997). Within psychoanalysis, according to Hall, the idea of the other is essential to the constitution of the self as a subject; we create meaning through dialogue with the other. We rely on each other’s perceptions and appraisals to enhance our social self; we define ourselves in the eye of the other (Aure, 2011), as if we are looking in a mirror. Thereby we might be able to feel the emotional state of the other; to feel oneness. Synchronously, the capability to identify emotional expressions intimately connects to the visceral image of our own facial expressions (Hang Lee & Tottenham, 2011; Nummenmaa et al, 2008; Niendenthal, 2007). Consequently, mutual facial feedback serves as a bidirectional contagion which helps us to construe expressions and consolidate emotions in the spectator as well as in the other. Imitating is an indication of social behavior; it is what human beings do, from infancy to senescence (Yarbrough, 2017). Tuning our moods and movements is a way of expressing that we like a situation and the other person. Historically, human have used mirroring as a type of universal signal, and it have even been a way of surviving, Yarbrough maintains. Mirroring was learnt as a socially accepted behavior. Now it is seen as an innate inclination of expressiveness, yet depending on factors such as culture, education, personality and gender (ibid). This is an analytic autoethnographic study revealing the journey of three scholars/art-teachers educators/artists, working at the University of Gothenburg, exploring the impact and implication of mirror-neurons while making common and mixed self-portraits. Our experiences of this art-making are expressed through chronologically ordered narrative vignettes. In order to connect the experiences with theoretical significance these vignettes were critically reflected upon.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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