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Hands of X

This project is an eighteen month collaboration between the Duncan and Jordanstone College of Art and Design, the Scottish charity and public access makespace MAKLab, and the Institute of Making. It aims to expand the palette of materials available to wearers of prosthetic hands.

Objects on a table

Further Information

Nowhere is the selection of materials more profound than for a prosthetic hand, which becomes part of its wearer’s identity. Currently amputees can choose between hands in skin-coloured silicone gloves or cyborg-like carbon-fibre. Our goal in Hands of X is to explore a more nuanced choice of materials, chosen by the wearer, exploiting the possibilities of digital fabrication techniques whilst also drawing on a deeper cultural history of familiar materials; worn and handled.

In a series of participatory workshops, amputees, designers, prosthetists, makers, artists, engineers and material scientists will work together to explore materials that can be combined in simplified, speculative hands. The stories of the people and processes behind these hands will be recorded and exhibited as a collection. We will then work with a few amputees, applying their material choices to their chosen type of prosthesis (passive, mechanical, electric or bionic), to conceive a small collection of simple hand designs. We will also scope out the infrastructure needed for this kind of affordable and bespoke prosthetics service, and prototype the user’s experience of it.

From February 2016–July 2017, this research is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council under the title ‘Socio-technical materials for prosthetic hands’. This project is also supported by Finding Your Feet, a charity founded by amputees for amputees; the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore and Steeper, makers of mechanical, electric and bionic hands.

Graham Pullin and Andrew Cook

DJCAD, University of Dundee

Mark Miodownik and Sarah Wilkes

Institute of Making

Richard Clifford and Andrew Tibbles