Touch My Touch

Amsterdam / London
TouchMyTouch (2021) is commissioned and curated by: UP Projects (TIPS: This is Public Space), with generous support from Arts Council England. ------- With thanks to and supported by: Mondriaan Fund; Delft University of Technology (Participatory Systems Lab); University of Twente (Dutch Society of Social and Affective Touch); HvA Amsterdam (Civic Interaction Design) and (Learning Community Urban Interaction Design - Marjolijn Ruyg); Galerie de Meerse Hoofddorp; Public Art Lab Berlin. Sponsored by ISPA Plastics Amsterdam and Eagle Science Software Amsterdam.

Can I touch you online?
Is my body only mine online?
Can I trust your touch online ?

TMT investigates an online social platform for sharing touching and feeling touched.
Current online social platform technologies extend our body boundaries in space and time but prevent us from touching each other - increasingly resulting in skin hunger, a decreasing sense of intimacy, and bodily and psychologically isolation.

Artists Lancel/Maat:
“Can we learn from our bodies to rethink sensing our touch online? Can we flow into one tangible body? Can I touch my own body to touch you online?
Neuroscientific experiments with flexible body-ownership show that individual participants can 'extend' a sense of body-ownership boundaries to an artificial other on a screen (Ijsselsteijn 2008, 2016). Through caressing and mirroring gestures, the other seems to become part of the own body, as if in symbiosis.

In TMT we explore a new approach to future online touching, in worldwide HyperTouching Symbiosis.
In a poetic communal ritual, lovers, friends, family and strangers meet, physical and artificial, caressing and merging into one tangible body resonating in our skin and in our imagination."

The interdisciplinary TMT research (2020-2024) is developed with experts in the arts, neuroscience, socio-biometric design, and participants - through test setups, prototypes, presentations, iterations, workshops, questions and dialogues.

Participant responses: "My body felt fluid, it was strange, very intimate... Far away, yet close. Your hands in my skin..." (Twente, 2021) “It was intense…I felt as if I caressed my face with my partner’s hands” (Netherlands, 2021). "I had the feeling caressing my face with my partner's hands." (UK 2021)

2021 - Online Social Platform and Meeting-Ritual
The online platform is an artistic assemblage of streaming platform technologies: face-recognition software, touchscreens and Deep-Fake Selfie algoritmes. They are combined with elements of the body ownership experiment, to play with fluid and extending body boundaries. In a reciprocal, vulnerable interplay of seeing, caressing and mirroring gestures they reveal shared presence. Data-traces of caressing merge into temporary, fluid visual identities, that include diverse ages, genders, skin colors, and cultural backgrounds: HyperTouchig Shared Selfies.

2022 - Performance installation in public space and Workshop.
The physical performance installation 'HyperTouching Shared Selfie' in public space exists of two transparent polyester objects, that refer to museum vitrines, exhibiting 1.5 meters social distancing length. At both objects' ends, integrated touch screens give access to the TMT online platform. The installation has been created to evoke a playful interplay and dialogue between participants and by-standers, through seeing and being seen. Paradoxically, only at a distance participants can intimately caress each other; and their performativity of private caressing is publically exposed and shared.

Upcoming: 2023 - Touching Selfies, HvA University for Applied Science Amsterdam, Jacoba Mulder Huis. Exhibition and Workshops. "Can my tactile body trust your online touch?"