British Science Festival, Digital Encounters Show, Brighton Palace Pier, 5th to 9th September 2017

Whilst our typing hands do not normally have any further role or function other than pressing keys, this installation proposes to turn our webcam chat attention away from our talking head and focus on our hands, located on a shared telepresent keyboard, as a backdrop to a new space of remote intimacy. A space that was once the domain of textual exchanges now becomes the space of performance, abstract poetry, and handheld encounters as a new sensation of being touched by text. ‘Touched’ aims to provoke an altogether new social networked encounter by simply rearranging our computer peripherals; webcam, projector and screen in an alternative manner. The installation consists of a computer screen and keyboard on a table with a webcam situated directly above it, picking up a birds eye view of the table top and keyboard below. This image is sent to another computer where the image is received and projected directly down onto another table and keyboard. A webcam situated next to the projector picks up an image of the projected keyboard and the actual keyboard and sends it back to the other participant. As each person begins to type and chat his or her hands meet and visually mix on this telepresent keyboard surface where dialogues, games, and encounters unfold. Whilst on the one hand it is a completely simple set up it is on the other an entirely new physical encounter; echoing palmist conversations that suggest the convergence of virtual spirits and contemporary digital chat-room environments composited on screen.

Touched was exhibited in the Digital Encounters Show at Horatio's Bar on Brighton Palace Pier for the British Science Festival in Brighton from the 5th to 9th September 2017. The show was curated by Paul Sermon and featured three site-specific works; Mimesis by Jeremiah Ambrose, Weaver by Jane Frances Dunlop and Touched by Paul Sermon, which included hand and type performance contributions from Ann Light, Professor of Design and Creative Technology at the University of Sussex.

Digital Encounters Show website

Touched concept (1.2MB) PDF