Phytorio - Visual Artists and Theorists Association
Artist - in - residence programme
Collaboration with Michalis Charalambous.
July - August 2020
The tactile sense is in
Our touch offers and is offered a
warning of the dangers it must swivel to avoid.
The haptic continuum is disrupted,
until further notice.
If the skin on our
hands is our primary point of contact with the world, of sensing and of
knowing, what can we expect to happen when the tactile sense begins to
malfunction? As we are trying to act against our skin’s own impulse to
immerse itself on a surface, of our grasp to instinctively seek assurance on a
staircase handrail, on any support rails, any handles, our fingers to curiously
slip into cavities and holes, our palms to press firmly on tables and counters,
the viral ‘threat’ remains something imperceptible to our skin - the very
existence of harmful, perhaps even lethal, bacteria is something that still
does not register on the surface of our skin. Yet our skin has the capacity to
catch it, to carry it and to transfer it, all while being unaware of it.
As the role of our hands in
perceiving the world around us is severely limited by covering our hands and
withdrawing them from the most fundamental processes of engagement we feel
inclined to ask if it was reckless relying on them in the first place; whether
it might have been possible for us to have misused or abused our means of
access to the haptic continuum in an effort to enhance sensory satisfaction.
That is to say whether we have overindulged in this satisfaction and our
reliance on our skin’s own ability to defend and to shield, always winning each
battle and never thought as capable of losing one. Ultimately, since our own
instincts turn against us they poignantly lead us to question our collective
abilities to lead to detrimental decision making, urging us to redefine the way
in which we use our hands not in order to know the physical world, but, in
order to avoid it.
The work explores states of
disruption on and through the sense of touch as our hands, and by extension,
our skin reconfigure their very function from agents facilitating the sense of
touch to agents that touch whilst avoiding to touch, hesitating to touch and
unavoidably becoming fearful of touch. Desire and
avoidance. Immersion and withdrawal. Utopias of tactile immersion, of leaning into touch, of indulgence in a sense that is now in a
process of being closely monitored, regulated and policed. As the hand encounters and explores a surface it registers
its own response through its own marks on an object’s surface in a process of
reflecting the tactile experience as a material record. This record is our very
own nuanced reaction to the visible and invisible contents of a surface, the
knowledge(s), the assumptions and suspicions of what dwells on an object’s
[short excerpt, ‘Disrupting the Haptic Continuum’, Othonas Charalambous, August 2020]