Today I met with Valerie Bugmann who works on the e-Skin project. She shared her ideas about the perception and simulation of touch for visually impaired persons.
I discovered her performance works and especially liked Secret under my skin. "With the Skin-to-skin communication the body stands as a medium between the technology and the world. In the performance, the participant exteriorizes inner thoughts by inputting them into the keyboard and interiorizes them into the body again with the use of Skin-to-skin communication for the purpose of transmitting them personally by touch to the performer."
The performance takes place in the room of secrets where a skin-to-skin communication network is employed. Here, the performer and the space await the opportunity to become alive through the interaction with the participant who comes to intimately confess/convey a secret by touch. A lighted keyboard floating in the darkness invites the participant to type a secret into its glowing keys. Once typed out, by simply touching the keyboard the secret is reintroduced into the participant’s body in the form of its new physicality – an electric wave. The secret, now flowing from the keyboard into the participant’s body is ready to be further transmitted/confessed to the performer by touch. Once skin-to-skin contact is established with the performer, the participant will be able to see his/her secret revealed on a wearable display on the performer’s body; the participant is then confronted with a very intimate part of him/herself. Despite the secret being displayed on the performer, it remains unread by anyone expect the participant, or has the performer – this almost inert object of inscription, desire and redemption - actually become aware of the secret through the transmission?
Skin-to-skin communication, as a suitable technology to express intimate thoughts, generates an intense effect as we recognize ourselves as part of the other through touch. Secret under my skin brings together different notions and implications of touch in this confession-like context, exploring new behaviors and novel parameters of social interaction that can develop out of this contact.