Experiential Knowledge Special Interest Group


Experiential Knowledge and Improvisation: Variations on movement, motion, emotion

Prof Anne Douglas (PhD), Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK and Orpheus  Research Center in Music, Ghent, Belgium


Prof Kathleen Coessens (PhD), Vrije Universiteit, Brussels and Orpheus  Research Center in Music, Ghent, Belgium


This paper positions improvisation as a way of knowing that is experiential, pivotal to the body’s movement and growth in the world. Improvisation allows us to manage the constraints and freedoms of a world rich in possibilities, associations, and combinations. Improvisation, we argue, works across intuitive perception and intellectual analysis. We act and feel our way with whatever is to hand. The impetus is an urge to move from a point of stasis, to catalyse relationship: as we grasp the world, the world grasps us. Where in life it may be unselfconscious, in art it leaves a trace, the means to repeat the process but not replicate its experience. Improvisation provides us with a means to create new experience and new knowledge. We draw on selected artists (the Harrisons, Klee, Kaprow, Kurtag, Cage). As authors we take their work into our creative experience of musical performance and the visual arts. (150 words)


Anne Douglas, a visual artist, researches the dynamic role of the artist in the public sphere. Through the On the Edge research programme, the research includes artistic leadership, remote and rural cultures, the aesthetics and ethics of working in public. She co-authored The Artist as Leader with Fremantle and The Artistic Turn, with Coessens and Crispin.

Kathleen Coessens, a philosopher and musician, situates her research at the crossings of science and art, human creativity and cultural representations, looked at from an embodied, epistemological and philosophical point of view. She graduated in piano and chamber music at the Conservatory of Brussels and Ecole Cortot at Paris and philosophy, sociology and psychology at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, where she is professor and postdoctoral researcher. She co-authored The Artistic Turn, with Crispin and Douglas.

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SkinDeep - experiential knowledge and multi sensory communication

International Conference 2011 of the DRS Special Interest Group

on Experiential Knowledge

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