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Archaeologies of Touch

Interfacing with Haptics from Electricity to Computing

2018
Author:

David Parisi

Archaeologies of Touch

A material history of haptics technology that raises new questions about the relationship between touch and media

David Parisi offers the first full history of new computing technologies known as haptic interfaces—which use electricity, vibration, and force feedback to stimulate the sense of touch—showing how the efforts of scientists and engineers over the past 300 years have gradually remade and redefined our sense of touch. Archaeologies of Touch offers a timely and provocative engagement with the long history of touch technology that helps us confront and question the power relations underpinning the project of giving touch its own set of technical media.

Since the rise of radio and television, we have lived in an era defined increasingly by the electronic circulation of images and sounds. But the flood of new computing technologies known as haptic interfaces—which use electricity, vibration, and force feedback to stimulate the sense of touch—offering an alternative way of mediating and experiencing reality.

In Archaeologies of Touch, David Parisi offers the first full history of these increasingly vital technologies, showing how the efforts of scientists and engineers over the past three hundred years have gradually remade and redefined our sense of touch. Through lively analyses of electrical machines, videogames, sex toys, sensory substitution systems, robotics, and human–computer interfaces, Parisi shows how the materiality of touch technologies has been shaped by attempts to transform humans into more efficient processors of information.

With haptics becoming ever more central to emerging virtual-reality platforms (immersive bodysuits loaded with touch-stimulating actuators), wearable computers (haptic messaging systems like the Apple Watch’s Taptic Engine), and smartphones (vibrations that emulate the feel of buttons and onscreen objects), Archaeologies of Touch offers a timely and provocative engagement with the long history of touch technology that helps us confront and question the power relations underpinning the project of giving touch its own set of technical media.

Archaeologies of Touch

David Parisi is associate professor of emerging media at the College of Charleston.

Archaeologies of Touch

Contents
Preface. Interrupting the Networked Body
Acknowledgments
Introduction. Haptic Interfaces and the Quest to Reinscribe Tactility
Interface 1. The Electrotactile Machine
Interface 2. The Haptic
Interface 3. The Tongue of the Skin
Interface 4. Human–Machine Tactile Communication
Interface 5. The Cultural Construction of Technologized Touch
Coda. Haptics and the Reordering of the Mediated Sensorium
Notes
Index