Public Seminar: The History of Virtualizing Touch

By Allie Mularoni
Public Seminar

Archaeologies of Touch (David Parisi)From corrective lenses to virtual simulation, humans have long pursued the mediation of the senses in an effort to maximize their visual, auditory, and haptic capacities. The skin’s overlapping roles as both an organ capable of feeling its own right, as well as the structure responsible for holding all of our other organs (and senses) in place, make for fertile experimental ground. In the age of bioengineering and biohacking, touch today remains, quite literally, a sensitive subject.

Archaeologies of Touch, a new book by David Parisi, presents a historical examination of the various scientific and cultural apparati that have defined (and subsequently, redefined) our sense of touch. In addition to analyzing the mediation of touch in medical practice, Parisi also draws upon film theory and design aesthetics to trace the multiple, entangled genealogies of haptics. Parisi finds lineages of human-computer interfaces from early electrical machines used in medicine to wearable smart technologies that not only mimic touch, but also grant access to the World Wide Web.

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