We are living in a period of unprecedented social distancing, a period of exponential increase in screen time and growing influence of social media algorithms. Within this context, Laura A Dima has developed an artwork that revitalises our experience of touch. Future Affair is an immersive experience of blissful touch, touch without the threat of virus, without taboo or prejudice. Dima has created a ground-breaking altered space that marries robotics and aesthetic craftsmanship to bypass preconceived cultural norms.

This multimedia installation consists of two isolated hubs that are part warped confessional, part hallucinatory phone booth. One of the hubs contains a control panel sculpture, while the other hub houses the caressing machine: heated robotic silicone fingers that, once the consent button has been pushed, respond in accordance with the first hub’s interactive sculpture. Thus, it is the participants themselves who, upon entering these hubs, bring to life the defamiliarising sensory realm that is Future Affair. Their physical contact with the objects in each hub allows a thrilling abstracted communication to develop between participants.

Future Affair is part live experiment, part theoretical research. This multidisciplinary project brings together engineers, craftspeople and design specialists from TU Delft whose input, channelled through Dima’s creative vision, transforms the viewer from passive spectator to vital symbiont. This transformation refracts touch through a new prism, challenging the current trend of ever-growing interpersonal distance within society.

Laura A Dima has long been fascinated by touch as an essential aspect of human experience and how to develop new access modes to one of our oldest and deepest needs. She is engaged in thinking about touch as an essential aspect of bonding and emotional response. She alters spaces for audiences to have reconfigured experiences: In Future Affair, participants will develop communication with strangers in a slanted yet profound way, and on the deepest level. They may even be inspired to enter a state of critical introspection, a dissolving of unconscious assumptions.

Future Affair redefines the way we view art by bringing physical contact into the experience, while at the same time raising questions about the role of touch in society. Can we create affectionate touch without human contact? Can art and technology combine to open an altered space for a new dimension of touch? Can we enter a way of thinking that transcends our fears and prejudices to reconnect us to one another? Future Affair offers us glimmering possibilities for a new prism of touch.

Interactive Art Installation
Materials: Wood, copper, LED lights, plexiglass, pedestal with ceramics sculpture, vibrational motors, polypropylene chair with metal armrest, caressing machine with three silicone fingers, heating cables, thermostaat, cushion, infrared camera and screen, contact microphone and amplifier.
Size: 2 cabins of 250 cm height each, 120 cm diameter floor space
Year(s) of production: 2021 - 2022

Photo by LNDWStudio and Maarten Nauw
  • Technical Design Amy den Dekker (TU Delft)
  • Superviser Daniel Shor (TU Delft)
  • Research Gijs Huisman (TU Delft)
  • Carpenter Walter van Groningen
  • Building Assistance W. Folley
  • Text Bren Booth-Jones
  • Graphic Design Martin Draax
  • Metal work Gwion Lopez
  • Technical assistance Lino Thijssen
  • Amplifier by Bottleneck Ed
  • Amplifier case by Patricia Nagtzaam
  • Special Thanks Jarco den Dekker
  • Supported by: Fonds ZOZ Academy
  • AFK (Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst)
  • In collaboration with VibesResearch Lab, IDE, TU Delft

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