Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Hao, A.X.
Make this tango viral: Touching toward the untouchable in tele-synaesthesia performance
(2021) Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, 8 (2-3), pp. 237-266.

DOI: 10.1386/JCCA_00046_1

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an uncanny rift between tact and touch as it expands the virtual towards its potential. Layer upon layer of new information has been repeatedly revising and reformulating our sense of touch. The uncondi-tional freedom of touch needs to be rendered accountable in this rift of time and space. The act of touching entails individual acknowledging the risk of reaching towards the unknown or the known. Tracing with a tactile sense of touch is to be tactful about how, where and what can such act of touching could reach, especially in the context of communicative technology.

This article focuses on the possibility of virtual sensibility by challenging ways to feel touched beyond the nostal-gic narratives that attempt to indict communicative technology with the loss of touch. To replenish and reinstate touch through tele-synaesthesia performance, I ask: how to elongate our somatosensensation and echo the embodied experience of touching through virtual connectivity? Tele-synaesthesia performance joints tele-matic and synaesthetic experience together to embody the incorporeality of touch through virtual connectivity. It embodies the injunction of physical contact and challenges what can and cannot be touched by suturing one sensuous modality to another. Inspired by Paul Sermon’s artistic production of Telematic Quarantine (2020) and Pandemic Encounters (2020), that tele-presents the stories of self (isolation), I have created The Best Facial (2021): a series of one-to-one participatory tele-synaesthesia performances, where I became a virtual aesthetician and performed ‘virtual facial care’ on Zoom amid the second wave of the pandemic in the United Kingdom.

In this article, I will discuss how tele-synaesthesia performance could trigger tactile experiences in the participants in reference to Michel Foucault’s concept Heterotopia (1986) that allegorically address the incompatible physical places in the society. I discuss how to elicit an affective sensory response from non-tactile senses through virtual touch, as stated by Naomi Bennett’s ‘Telematic connections: sensing, feeling, being in space together’ (2020). I refer to Legacy Russell’s discussion on glitch (2020) to analyse the possible future of tele-synaesthesia performance and its potential for expanding virtual connectivity with an ethical touch of a non-performative refusal of the present. © 2021 Intellect Ltd Article. English language.

Author Keywords
Glitch; Haptic visuality; Heterotopia; Online performance; Participatory art; Synaesthesia; Telecommunication; Telematics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: