work in progress

research: how to create affectionate touch without skin-to-skin contact and without the incentive coming from the closely related.

"Future Affair" aims to offer people alternatives to personal touch. Laura A Dima studio is developing a work of art that encourages an active audience to engage, connect, and explore touch without the individuals having to touch each other.

'Future Affair' is a cross-disciplinary project continuing the artist's research on affectionate touch and inter-personal fluid relationships. For "Future Affair", a team of scientists from Technical University in Delft, (Vibe Research Lab) and a technical design master student (Amy den Dekker) are working together. We are developing a concept for an installation that allows people to establish an intimate encounter using tactile sculptures and haptic technology. The communication is done remote. Audiences are not seeing or touching each other: they communicate by interacting with the artworks and by doing so activate pulsations (vibrations/ movement/ light/ temperature) that are experienced and can be reacted to by another party.

This way of communication can possibly offer fresh new possibilities, perhaps transcending cultural norms and taboos surrounding touch. (you are comfortable touching an object rather than the body of a stranger.)

The project aims to produce a series of sculptures and machines which can be used in various semi-public spaces and art project spaces alike.

'Future Affair' is a cross-disciplinary project that provokes thought about the importance of interpersonal touch, encouraging audiences to explore trust, connection, and emotion without directly touching or seeing one another. "Future Affair" uses tactile art and haptic technology to encourage communication that sidesteps cultural norms.

The first prototype under development is a caressing machine connected to a ceramic sculpture which becomes the tactile input. While one user is caressing the bumpy surface of the ceramics piece, the other is feeling the gentle touch delivered either by a silicone finger, feather or brush.

Realizing that there is no fixed tautology of touch, gave this team an opening for further investigation. It is clear that touch hasn’t yet become aesthetic, perhaps because of its everyday practical use. We reflect on what makes a pleasurable touch in the context that pleasure is still questioned as a fifth modality of the sense of touch.

This project proposes a new kind of language. To decode it, the users need to use their fingers and bodies and engage in various exploratory procedures.

As they rub, squeeze, and fondle the sculptures, visitors consciously and unknowingly generate data. This data can be used for automated haptic feedback by the artwork itself but also for research material for others. We will learn about people’s behaviour and needs, as well as have a playful interactive fetish art object.

Interactive installation
ceramics, silicone, brush, wood, arduino, stepper motor, sensors
work in progress

  • interactive technology designer Amy Den Dekker (TU Delft)
  • mechanical engineer and project superviser Dan Shor (TU Delft)

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