I had a chance to participate in a workshop about touch and e-textiles by Ricardo O’Nascimento. Ironically it was moved online during the time we were not allowed to touch or meet. For me the most interesting part was to research the feeling of presence, which has been in question already in other works with the perception of time and memory.

 

Defined proximity

Usually smoothing or touching somebody is passive and sometimes the touch can be quite unexpected. Touch is a very contradictory act, it can be desirable or very displeasing because it’s nature of intimacy.

This work is turning the touch more visible and making the person who is touching to be more aware of the action. The amount, intensity and ways of touch and proximity is a very cultural and learned thing, tight to situations and can be externally defined.

How it works

Blinking light is giving constant feedback of continuous touch rather than the LED would just stay on, then you wouldn’t notice the difference of movement. Blinking light is defining the moment and action as long as it lasts.

During late spring it was quite hard to get some materials delivered because lockdowns, but sometimes the projects get even better when the playground is very limited. In this project I used cotton fabric, copper tape, LED light and coin battery.

You can see the final pattern in the video. If you haven’t used copper tape before, you can check here some tips how to bend the corners nicely.

Manifestation

What was interesting for me was the perception of presence. When being able to touch something or someone, you have to be at the same place, same time and aware of each other. What Ricardo O’Nascimento prompted is that when you are touching, there’s reversibility, you are also being touched.

It is often said we lose proximity during the internet time which is true, but just partly. We lose the touch we are used to, but we are all the time touching something while typing and sweeping our devices. We need human touch of course, but we should be aware of the other haptics around us as well.