Embarking on my practice-as-research journey, I set out with a curious spirit to challenge the boundaries of human connection in our digital age. The focal point of my study was to recreate the subtle sensations of touch over distance or through virtual channels, utilizing creative methods and philosophical insights. I wanted to redefine the parameters of touch, expand its definition, and bring participants closer to tactile experiences, even in the absence of physical proximity.
During my first practical research phase, I embarked on a collaborative journey with seven artists from diverse fields including dance, music, visual arts, and theatre. Our shared goal was to create pre-recorded audio performances that would serve as vehicles for participants to embark on a participatory journey within the intimate confines of their own homes. Through these carefully crafted audio tracks, we aimed to offer a unique blend of sensory experiences, bridging the gap between the physical and virtual realms.
Our collaborative process was a symphony of innovation and creativity, merging the perspectives of artists with varying backgrounds. We started by envisioning how different art forms could synergize to evoke touch-like sensations in remote participants. Each artist contributed their expertise, allowing us to create a multi-dimensional experience that tapped into visual, auditory, and emotional triggers.
In order to amplify the immersive quality of the experience, we carefully curated pre-selected areas within participants' homes for them to explore. These spaces were chosen based on their potential to evoke tactile memories and sensations. By transforming participants' personal environments into active participants, we sought to foster a deeper sense of connection and authenticity.
Our working methods were deeply rooted in experimentation and iteration. We continuously refined the audio performances, ensuring that each element seamlessly blended with the others to create a holistic sensory encounter. We encouraged participants to actively engage their senses, to mentally feel the textures, temperatures, and emotions that the audio performances conveyed.
Throughout this collaborative journey, we faced challenges and celebrated breakthroughs. The virtual medium demanded innovation, pushing us to explore unconventional ways of evoking touch-like sensations. It became evident that through the amalgamation of various artistic disciplines and a keen focus on sensory engagement, we were able to transcend the limitations of distance and technology.
In reflecting on these working methods, I'm reminded of the power of collaborative creativity and the potential of interdisciplinary approaches. Our collaborative effort not only pushed the boundaries of touch-like sensations in remote settings but also illuminated the path for future explorations. By harnessing the synergy of different art forms and embracing the digital canvas, we have taken a step forward in redefining how we connect and immerse ourselves in an increasingly virtual world.
Reimagining Touch: Beyond the Tangible
Touch, as I delved into philosophical musings by Karen Barad and Erin Manning, presented itself as a multi-dimensional phenomenon. Their perspectives resonated deeply with me and inspired my exploration. I aimed to weave these philosophical insights into my creative approach, uncovering the avenues through which touch-like sensations could be resurrected and experienced through the prism of diverse senses and environments.
Harnessing the Power of Sensory Language
The essence of touch goes far beyond what our eyes can perceive or what our ears can hear. It dwells in the nuances of sensations that words can evoke. In my research, I found that sensory language became my guiding star. Through meticulously chosen words and vivid descriptions, I aimed to transport participants into a realm where they could mentally experience the textures, temperatures, and tactile dimensions of touch. This manipulation of language skillfully kindled their senses, allowing them to immerse themselves in the tactile landscapes I painted online. Through this approach, I sought to bridge the physical gap and invite participants to genuinely feel the touch-like sensations I was evoking.
The Visual Symphony: Enhancing Virtual Experiences
As digital platforms offer a canvas rich with visual potential, I seized the opportunity to enhance the recreation of touch-like sensations. By integrating images, videos, and graphics, I constructed a visual tapestry that complemented the sensory journey. These visual cues served as catalysts for participants' imagination, breathing life into the sensations I was crafting. The synergy between sensory language and visual representation acted as a bridge, spanning the chasm between remote engagement and embodied experiences. Transitioning into Immersion Central to my study was the notion of guiding participants through a seamless transition from their everyday environments to the immersive world I had fashioned. A virtual visual representation, reminiscent of pre-performance rituals, set the stage for what was to come. This gradual immersion into the tactile and sensory expedition fostered anticipation, connection, and a heightened state of presence. In this way, I aimed to recreate the emotional journey that leads to physical engagement, all within the confines of a virtual realm.
Embracing Home and Multi-Sensory Engagement
Recognizing the profound impact of location and personal space, I intentionally designed multi-sensory experiences within participants' homes. Every corner of their living spaces contributed to the overall encounter, imbuing it with unique ambiances, sounds, scents, and textures. By fostering a connection between participants and their surroundings, I aimed to infuse authenticity and comfort into the immersive journey. The home itself emerged as an active participant, contributing to the recreation of touch-like sensations.
Acknowledging Boundaries and Charting the Future
While the limitations of virtual mediums cannot be ignored, my research has laid a sturdy foundation for future explorations. The physicality of touch remains an enigma, but by melding sensory language, visual representations, and a consideration of location and multi-sensory engagement, I have succeeded in forging a bridge across the divide. The insights I've gleaned contribute significantly to our understanding of remote interactions and open the door to innovative ways of fostering connection and immersion.
As I conclude this journey of research and exploration, I'm reminded that the realms of touch and connection are not confined by distance or medium. Through the fusion of creativity, philosophy, and technology, I've managed to transcend these barriers, offering a glimpse into a future where touch-like sensations can thrive even in the virtual domain. My practice-as-research study has, without a doubt, illuminated a path toward deeper, more meaningful interactions – an ode to the boundless potential of human innovation and the unquenchable thirst for connection.
Why not have a go at our online performances yourself? Click Here!