Dr. Hannah Drayson [BA (Hons), MSc, Ph.D]
mail : hannah.drayson [at…] plymouth.ac.uk
Hannah Drayson co-convenes the Transtechnology Research group, a community of over 20 graduate researchers in the School of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Plymouth. Since the beginning of her career, Hannah’s work has been situated at the intersection of arts, science and technology. As an artist and designer, she has explored a range of media as platforms for creative enquiry, including; web and digital design, interactive art, live coding, reconstructed psychological instruments, hypnotic performances, lists, and live events– mainly parties. Her explorations of suggestion as medical and psychological practice led her to train in hypnotism (stage and hypnotherapy) and microphenomenological interview techniques, which offer research topics as well as methods in her work. Her PhD, completed in 2011, led her to an ongoing exploration of the paradoxical phenomenon of the placebo effect and the role of affect and creativity in medicine and healing. Her current research develops these concerns with the aesthetic dimensions of biomedicine, which raise questions of ontology, technology and embodiment. She has written on the theme of taste, medicine and the everyday which have involved desk research across a range of disciplines, as well as collaborative workshops and experiments in cooking and recipe writing. This work has been published as “Don’t Sugar Coat It” in the online journal Feast and “To the Bitter End” reflects on how human co-evolution with plants can help us to think about what it means to “take a bitter pill”. She is currently writing a paper about mugs, matter and affect that explores metaphorical communication in intentional community.
Faculty of Minor Disturbances [FMD]
Society for Interdisciplinary Placebo Studies [SIPS]
Chair of the Schumacher Society
Active Associate Braziers Park School of Integrative Social Research
Association for Solution Focussed Hypnotherapy [AfSFH]
Drayson, H. 2021. “To the Bitter End: Affect, Experience and Chemical Ecology.” CURARE 42(2019)3+4: Aesthetics of Healing: Working with the Senses in Therapeutic Contexts”. https://agem.de/curare/
–2019. “Don’t Sugar Coat It”, Feast Journal: Sugar. Ellie Doney and Laura Mansfield (eds) http://feastjournal.co.uk/article/dont-sugar-coat-it-1/ ISSN: 2397-785X
-2018 “Design(ing) and the placebo effect– a productive idea”. Design Issues: Volume 34, Number 3 Summer 2018. https://pearl.plymouth.ac.uk/handle/10026.1/10095
-2017 “Bootstrapping, creativity and neologism; academic writing and the cybernetic investigator” AVANT, 8, 35–43. doi: 10.26913/80s02017.0111.0004
Chapters in edited books
–2018. “Debunking the Self; Jastrow, Münsterberg and the Automatograph.” In Rüdiger Steinmetz (ed), A Treasure trove. Friend of the Photoplay – Visionary – Spy?: New trans-disciplinary Approaches to Hugo Münsterberg‘s Life and Oeuvre. Leipzig University Press. (pp.143-162).
–2009. “Constructed Bodies; can biomedical instruments become tools of self-perception?” in New Realities, Being Syncretic, 2009, Ascott et al. (eds), Springer: Wein/New York.
-2020. “I love a party with a happy atmosphere”; notes on the ontology of interpersonal atmosphere”. Transtechnology Research Reader 2019-21.
–2013. The Rhetoric of Instrumentation: Objectivity, Instrumental Rationality and Affect. Transtechnology Research Reader 2012/13; Deep History, Contingency and the Sublime.
–2011. “‘Imagine Being Slapped’, Physiological Instrumentation, Ontology, and the Placebo Effect”. Transtechnology Research Reader 2011-12.
–2011. Gestalt Biometrics; Instrumentation, Objectivity and Poetics. Ph. D. Thesis, University of Plymouth.
-2018. “Colour perception and the ‘language stance’; reconnecting hypnotic suggestion to ecological consciousness”. GREEN. 12th Conference of the European Society for Literature, Science and the Arts (SLSAeu) at University of Copenhagen, Denmark. June 13th-16th 2018.
–2017. “All kinds of magic; instrumental representations of mind-body medicine as a way to make things happen”. (2017) At Creative Encounters with Science and Technology. Legacies, Imaginaries and Futures, at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016. February 18-19th 2017.
–2017. “Cognitive innovation, bootstrapping and neology.” Off the Lip 3; Cogntive Innovation. Plymouth University, UK.
–2017. “Being fooled on purpose; historical reflections on the voluntary and involuntary in experimental manipulations of embodiment and agency”. Understanding Social Cognition, Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies, 3rd Avant Conference, Centre for the Meeting of Cultures. Lublin. (20-22 October 2017).
–2016. “Debunking the Self; Jastrow, Münsterberg and the Automatograph”. A hundred Years of Film Theory. Münsterberg and Beyond: Concepts, Applications, Perspectives, Leipzig University, Leipzig, 29th June 2016 – 2nd July 2016.
–2016. Induction Ritual as Creative Practice. Conference Paper. Performance of the Real; Ritual and Cultural Performance Hui and Symposium. University of Otago. April 14th & 15th 2016
–2013. Imaginary Materialities; Hypnosis as a medium for artistic and creative practice. Transtechnology Research Open Dialogues.
–2008. Tahiroglu, K., Drayson, H., and Erkut, C., “An Interactive Bio-Music Improvisation System”. ICMC 2008 (International Computer Music Conference) Belfast, Ireland.
Invited Talks and Papers Read
-2018. Healing atmospheres: a proposal for sidestepping the instrumentalisation of experience in placebo studies. Philosophy of Placebo Workshop. London School of Economics. Senate House London. Program here.
–2017. “All kinds of magic; instrumental representations of mind-body medicine as a way to make things happen”. At Creative Encounters with Science and Technology: Legacies, Imaginaries and Futures conference at Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kerala, India.
–2017. Hypnosis as critical artistic practice, at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bengaluru, India.
–2017. “We can remember it for you wholesale; Discipline and Reward”, Arts Institute Digital Memory Symposium. University of Plymouth. 16th January 2017.
–2017. “The experience of spontaneity: Authenticity and process suggestions;”. Unconscious Memory Network Seminar Series; TORCH, Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities.
–2015. Morning coffee telling and imagination games. Interactive artist’s talk. 18th April 2015. At NIMAC (Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre) http://nimac.org.cy/archives/
–2012. Keynote, International Symposium of Innovation in Interactive Media. Hosted by Media Lab/UFG, Goiânia, Brazil.
–2016. Ideomotor Drawing Workshop, in collaboration with research magician Stuart Nolan. Workshop presented as part of Off the Lip, CogNovo Manufactury. 21st October 2016.
–2015. Instrument as Intervention. CogNovo workshop.
– 2015-7. Reconstructed automatograph displayed with poster “Planchette: ‘The Despair of Science’”, as part of Imagery in Action event at ESRC social science festival.
–2017. “Rituals by Vincent Moon”, Leonardo. 50:1, 100-101.
–2016. “Delete: A Design History of Computer Vapourware” Leonardo 49:1, 94-94
–2014. “Doctored: The Medicine of Photography in Nineteenth-Century America by Tanya Sheehan.” Leonardo 47:2, 187-188.
–2013. “When Biometrics Fail: Gender, Race, and the Technology of Identity by Shoshana Amielle Magnet.” Leonardo, 46:2, 187-189.
–2012. “Players Unleashed! Modding The Sims and the Culture of Gaming by Tanja Sihvonen.” Leonardo 45:5, 491-493.
2016. Bonfire of Insanity: Devon-based crew bizarre Rituals embrace full-spectrum chaos. The Wire.
External Engagement/Enterprise Activity
–2006-ongoing: Associate Editor Leonardo Reviews.
–2014-17: External Examiner BA Constellation, Cardiff Metropolitan University.
–2014-17: External Examiner MA Art and Design, Cardiff Metropolitan University
–2015-ongoing: Reader/Referee for Leonardo: Journal of the Arts, Sciences and Technology.
–2016-ongoing: Reviewer for FWT Austria PEEK (Programme for Arts based Research) .
Doctoral Research Supervision
Research Degree Completions
Dr. Joanna Griffin, (Transtechnology Research). Changing Space: The Social and Experiential Culture of Spacecraft and the Public Domain (2014).
Edith Doove, (Transtechnology Research). Exploring the Curatorial as Creative Act. (2017)
Eugenia Stamboliev, (CogNovo). The social robot between social, surveying and digital media. (2018).
Abigail Jackson, (Transtechnology Research). Technology and Human Interaction in Autism Movement Therapy (AHRC funded). (2014-2019).
Edmonds, G. (2014-2020) Early Cinema and Cognitive Creativity
Haines, A. (2014-2020) Ideas exchange: Design and the Post-Biotech Body
Knight, J. (2012-2020) A Relational Ecology of Photographic Practices: towards a non-anthropocentric approach to photography.
Current PhD Supervision;
Director of Studies:
Stephanie Moran, (3D3 Scholarship) Symbiont Encounters: Ecological Fictioning and Networked Media. (2018-)
Lucinda Guy. Artist designed systems in Community Radio. (2018-)
Finnegan, P., The digital image according to its hieroglyphic and animistic capacities (2018-)
Welsman, L., AI: A deep history (working title) (2019-)
Dorothea-Smith, J., Vision – An excavation of the retinal space, physiological, phenomenological, cultural and spacial (2019-)
Turton, S., Technologies of Soul (2018-)
Amani Alsaad, Art Therapy in a non-western context. (2015-)
Jane Hutchinson, (Transtechnology Research). Not me – not not me: concerning the mediation of dissolving actualities and performing self. (2014-)
James Sweeting, (Transtechnology Research). The impact of technological constructivism on representation in videogames (2015-)
Nicholas Peres. (Transtechnology Research). Immersive cinematics in medical simulation: interfaces for the patient voice (2014-)
Becalelis Brodskis, (3D3 Scholarship) Re-Imagine your town: Co-created archives of community urban visions. (2016-)
Ph.D. Theses Examined
Ellen Sebring, (2015) University of Plymouth. Visual Narrative; A theory and model for image-driven digital historiography based on a case study of China’s Boxer Uprising (c. 1900)
Research in Hypnosis and Guided Visualisation. Hypnosis as a medium.
I’ve long had an interest in understanding in how different technologies are used (intentionally or not) to support or stimulate their user’s imagination: placebo treatments, lie detector tests, visualisations, images, and through that influence the anatomy, physiology or experience of embodiment. Building on previous work creating instruction-based sound works and audio-visual performance, between 2012 and 2016 I made a number of works that explored guided visualisations and hypnosis as a medium in a performance context. See Pascal Rousseau’s 2012 essay Under the Influence for an excellent discussion of hypnosis as a medium. Some of this work and the thinking behind it is documented here. http://cargocollective.com/hannahdrayson/
–2015. Take Me on a Trip to Cyprus and You Could Win a Dream Holiday, one-to-one performance presented at A+E Happenings, The Island, Bristol. 28th February 2015.
–2015. The Island of Nova Santos. Group visualisation performance. At Phaneromeris 70, Old City Nicosia. 9th-11th April, 2015, SuperNormal festival, Oxfordshire UK. 9th August, 2015.
EVETNEH || NEHEVET Nicosia Old City Tarot, presented at Phaneromeris 70, Old City Nicosia. 16th April, 2015.
–2015. I will buy your dreams. One-to-one performance. Port Eliot Festival, (as part of Ways With Weirds) Cornwall, July 30th – Aug 2nd 2015. SuperNormal festival (with A+E), Oxfordshire UK. 7th and 8th August, 2015.
–2012. Shokku A/V. Live visual performance. FAQ festival, Holland- http://www.faqfestival.nl/concerts.html
–2010. Shokku A/V. Live visual performance in collaboration sound designer Ben Hudson. BFI Stage at Big Chill Festival (2010) and BFI London.
2007-2011 Doctoral Research; Gestalt Biometrics and their Applications; Instrumentation, Objectivity and Poetics. Funded by the European Science Research Council (EPSRC).
Gestalt Biometrics combined transdisciplinary literature reviews with a computer science and engineering design approach, informed by perspectives from both arts and humanities and computer science. The research focus was upon biofeedback technologies, a group of sensors and methodologies which include a range of physiological instruments and the problem of holism and experimentation.
The intention of the project is to elucidate a critical and practice based response to the paradigms which surround contemporary sensing technologies as they are applied to the body. Rather than approach these instruments at face value, as objective devices, the project surveyed disciplines such as philosophy, science and technology studies, health psychology, parapsychophysiology and medical anthropology to look for alternative models of the human body that might be compatible with these technologies.
This project drew upon a combination of theoretical and practice-based research into the relationship between scientific instrumentation and the human body. Drawing on a range of literature from medicine and the medical humanities, anthropology, history, philosophy of science and technology the thesis contributed a practice-led and theoretically engaged account of human body sensing which argued that practice of human body sensing might be recalibrated, re-imagined and validated as a practice that is not inherently and specifically understood as one of objectively revealing, but as productive, active and poetic.
Reconstruction of the Joseph Jastrow’s Automatograph -2011-2017
In 2010, towards the end of my doctoral research I came across a curious illustration of a device called an ‘automatograph’ in an 1890s psychological instrument catalogue.
Over the next few years I made two reconstructed versions of device. The first used two panes of glass and three marbles, some cardboard and a pen. Later, as part of the Munsterberg TTIROL Lab in Transtechnology Research, I built a more robust version, with the aim to restage some of the original experiments which had been performed using the device. The version I recreated was one devised by pioneer psychologist Joseph Jastrow, who held the position of professor of Experimental Psychology at Wisconsin University from 1888. Described as a ‘scientific instrument version of the Ouija board’, the automatograph was used make graphic inscriptions of involuntary movements of the subject’s hand (Blumenthal, p.79), which were known in various contexts as automatic, unconscious, or ‘ideo-motor movements’.
Jastrow was not the first to explore these phenomena, or to use Ouija- like technologies in an experimental setting, in 1888 Frederic Myers had published a paper titled ‘Further cases of automatic writing’, in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. In this he discussed the methodology of using the planchette to allow subjects to engage in automatic writing, in order to explore the complex, interwoven nature of conscious and unconscious phenomena (Koutstaal, 1992). In Hugo Munsterberg’s lab at Harvard, a young Gertrude Stein also undertook experiments that explored the abilities of individuals to shape and direct attention, producing automatic actions such as writing through the redirection of attention.
Over a number of years the rebuilt device has framed a number of conversations and collaborations with colleagues and students about ideo-motor movement and instrumental technologies and their meanings in both early and contemporary popular psychology. With other colleagues at TTIROL lab at Plymouth, where we investigated Gertrude Stein’s use of the device in while a student of William James’ and in conversations with other researchers from across disciplines in the CogNovo project. The device was displayed and demonstrated regularly over a number of years from 2015-17 as part of the Imagery In Action event by colleagues from the psychology department’s Action Prediction lab (now at Edinburgh) whose work concerned the relationship between imagination and action. In 2016, inspired by Jastrow’s collaboration with magician Harry Houdini, another collaborative workshop on ideomotor drawing with research magician Stuart Nolan– who had done a number of fascinating projects with ideomotor movement technologies and magic for the CogNovo, Off the Lip Manufactory. Nolan later used ideomotor mind-reading techniques for his 1000 Mindreaders project in which he trained over 1000 people in the stage craft of mind-reading.
There are a number of designs that can be used to facilitate automatic movements, all of which reduced friction so that micromovements of the hand, whether unconscious or accidental will register. For spiritualist mediums the planchette was used to enable writing, or the spelling out of words – as on the traditional Ouija board by the picking of individual letters. In other investigations of spiritualist mediums as undertaken by investigators such as Myers, the planchette allowed the production of writing. The case of Jastrow’s apparatus was somewhat different, as it was simply intended to register the movement of the hand, not to relay messages, but to record something somewhat simpler. The device consisted of two wood framed panes of glass laid horizontally one on top of the other, with three brass bearings of 3/4 of an inch diameter between them. The top frame was attached by a thin metal arm to a glass scriber, positioned over smoke blackened paper or glass onto which it marked a graphic recording of the experiment.
In experiments reported by Jastrow that used the automatograph, the subject was instructed to place his or her hand gently on the top pane of glass, allowing it to rest there lightly not to not move. The instrument and the hand are screened from the subject’s direct view by a curtain, versions of which were also marketed alongside the automatograph apparatus. Tests devised by Jastrow involved counting the beats of a metronome, or observing the lab assistant carry or hide items around the laboratory. What Jastrow observed was that attention to these external movements is accompanies by involuntary micro-movements, which were amplified by the smooth nature of the glass and the bearings between, and transcribed to the blackened paper or glass via the arm and scriber to leave a mark that could be studied at leisure.
In a popular science magazine of the time, Jastrow explained the value of these automatograph inscriptions when he suggested that ‘thought is repressed movement’ (Jastrow, 1891-2, p.398). A great interest in his work was the detection of deception, both the deception of others, and self-deception (Pettit, 2007). The automatograph offered a way to make visible unconscious and involuntary movements, his contemporary, Hugo Munsterberg, wrote of this application of automatography in his book On the Witness Stand (1909), “if a witness or a criminal in front of a row of a dozen men claims that he does not know any one of them, he will point on the automatograph, nevertheless, towards the man whom he really knows and whose face brings him thus into emotional excitement” (p.125). It was not until the 1920s that Marston, a student of Munsterberg, began to apply physiological measurement in forensic science (Alder, 2007).
My work on the automatograph has been published and presented at;
–2018. Debunking the Self; Jastrow, Münsterberg and the Automatograph. Chapter published in A Treasure Trove. Friend of the Photoplay – Visionary – Spy?: New Trans-disciplinary Approaches to Hugo Münsterberg‘s Life and Oeuvre. Leipzig University Press. (pp.143-162).
–2017. “Being fooled on purpose; historical reflections on the voluntary and involuntary in experimental manipulations of embodiment and agency”. Paper presentation at Understanding Social Cognition, Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies, 3rd Avant Conference, Centre for the Meeting of Cultures. Lublin. (20-22 October 2017). http://avant.edu.pl/trends3/program.html
–2016. “Debunking the Self; Jastrow, Münsterberg and the Automatograph”. Paper presentation at A hundred Years of Film Theory. Münsterberg and Beyond: Concepts, Applications, Perspectives, Leipzig University, Leipzig, 29th June 2016 – 2nd July 2016.
–2016. Ideomotor Drawing Workshop, in collaboration with research magician Stuart Nolan. Workshop presented as part of Off the Lip, CogNovo Manufactury. 21st October 2016.
–2015. Instrument as Intervention. CogNovo workshop.
– 2015-7. Automatograph and poster “Planchette: ‘The Despair of Science’”, as part of Imagery in Action event at ESRC social science festival.
Alder, K. (2007) The Lie Detectors: The History of an American Obsession. New York : Free Press.
Anonymous. (1894) List of Apparatus for the Psychological Laboratory, Designed by Joseph Jastrow, Ph.D., Professor of Experimental and Comparative Psychology in the University of Wisconsin, Made by the Garden City Model Works, 124 Clark Street, Chicago, Ill. Chicago (Collection Rand B. Evans).
Blumenthal, A., L. (1991) ‘The Intrepid Joseph Jastrow’, in Portraits of Pioneers in Psychology, Kimble, G. A., Wertheimer, M., and White, C., (eds). (pp.74-87).
Jastrow, J., (1892) ‘Further Study of Involuntary Movements’, The Popular Science Monthly, April 1892, pp.743-750.
Jastrow, J., (1901) Fact and Fable in Psychology, London : Macmillan and Co. (pp.307-336).
Koutstall, W., (1992) ‘Skirting the Abyss: A History of Experimental Explorations of Automatic Writing in Psychology’. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences. Volume 28.
Münsterberg, H., (1908) On the Witness Stand: Essays on Psychology and Crime. New York : Double Day.
Pettit, M., (2007) ‘Joseph Jastrow, the Psychology of Deception, and the Racial Economy of Observation’, Journal of the History of Behavioral Sciences, 43, pp.159-175.
 Smoke blackened paper or glass was a common laboratory material in the 18th and 19th centuries and was used to make graphic recordings as part of a range of apparatuses.
Research on Bitterness.
Recently as part of my research on taste and in collaboration with the FMD I have been writing recipes. These include four porridge recipes as: Porridge Four Ways with Lifestyle Reductions– Suburban Maisonette Porridge, Lodger’s Porridge with Foraged Apple Puree, and Post-Apocalyptic Field Porridge. A similar line of enquiry has produce and excellent recipe for Bitter Salsa. Any publishers or agent interested in working with me on a cookbook should get in contact via my email above.
In press. Drayson, H. 2021. “To the Bitter End: Affect, Experience and Chemical Ecology.” CURARE 42(2019)3+4: “Aesthetics of Healing: Working with the Senses in Therapeutic Contexts”. https://agem.de/curare/