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The Human Touch

Making Art | Leaving Traces

6 January 2021 to 3 May 2021

Anatomy of Touch

Section 2

Our bodies are enveloped by the organ of touch, the skin. Touch receptors connected to our nervous system are everywhere, but most densely clustered in our fingertips. Their sensitivity allows us to read tactile writing systems like Braille, and our fingerprints, fully formed at birth, are unique to each individual.

Our hands can be an instrument of astonishing complexity, sensing texture and shape, and flexing, teasing and gripping with just the right force. They can have the power to crush, and the refinement to perform feats of precision and dexterity, from making art to performing surgery.

Dissection revealed the wondrous anatomy of the hand and its workings, a design so remarkable it was considered evidence of the existence of the creator. Artists explore both the complexity of the hand and the sensitivity of skin, telling its painful histories, both personal and political.

Engraving of dissected hand: The Syndics of Cambridge University Library
Engraving of dissected hand: The Syndics of Cambridge University Library
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