Lateral: Archaeologies of Touch

By Ricky Crano
Lateral: Journal of the Cultural Studies Association

Archaeologies of Touch (David Parisi)In the space of just over a decade, touchscreen displays have bounded from novelty to ubiquity, now present in airports and grocery checkouts, in libraries and public parks, built into our vehicles and our appliances, snapped onto our wrists, and snuggled into our pockets. In this timespan, the technology itself has developed at a fantastical pace. Since the 2004 release of Nintendo DS, the first successful mass-market touchscreen device, the US Patent and Trademark Office has reviewed some two million applications and granted nearly 800,000 patents related to touchscreen development and design. The commercial enthusiasm for the future of technologized touch could hardly be more pronounced. Fading fast is the age of the unapproachable image, the unidirectional interface, the ever looming, ever alien spectacle. Tech developers and marketers hail ours as a new era in sensorial rebalancing, with products like multi-touch displays and force feedback controllers heralding the collapse of the strong visual bias of late-twentieth and early twenty-first-century computing and, more broadly, the twilight of ocularcentric modernity.


David Parisi’s momentous new book Archaeologies of Touch announces itself as an opening salvo for a new media studies subfield capable of addressing this ongoing haptic reconstruction of our media environment.


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