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TOUCH WORKSHOP: Touching, Feeling, Transmission.

March 8, 2020 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Touching, Feeling. Transmission
Sunday March 8
6pm – 8 pm
410 Cottage Home St, Los Angeles

On Touch is a workshop developed by artist Anna Betbeze to explore gestures of touch, and the extension of such gestures by creating and using sensitive prosthetics. The workshop was taught at Yale University in 2018 and Cal Arts 2019. The Human Resources edition is exciting because it is not at a school! The structure will be more open.

After his films were banned by the communist party in 1971, Czech surrealist Jan Svankmajer conducted a series of tactile experiments with a group of artists in Prague. The experiments were not for the blind, but for the seeing. Simple objects were built for tactile and erotic stimulation; engaging the imagination through memory, fantasy, psychoanalysis, and synesthesia. The results of the experiments were outlined in “Touching and Imagining,” an artist book published in an edition of 5. The book circulated through Europe, hand to hand, with the idea that you cannot censor or ban touch. Betbeze became interested in Svankmajer’s tactile experiment and traveled to Prague in the Spring of 2018 to meet with Svankmajer himself and talk about these experiments. This was the impetus for developing On Touch. The desire to tap into the deep knowledge and aesthetic potentiality of the touch sense and the feeling body. To critique the hegemony of the visual cortex, to gesture away from ocularcentrism, to understand more fully our under-examined senses.

During the workshop, participants first explore the embodied gesture of touch in relation to materiality. Participants bring in tactile materials to be analyzed, solely through touching them. An eccentric group of materials is required. The participants will combine materials into tactile, or haptic arrangements. Arrangements will be touched without access to vision: blindfolded or in the dark. Participants make note of sensorial, mimetic, psychosexual, or confounding sensations.

The second part of the workshop will extend the gesture of touch from the organic body into a mechanical extension. The hinged action of a finger or rotary motion of a wrist could be amplified through the attachment of a handcrafted prosthetic. Participants will be asked to design bodily extensions, and to consider how a prosthetic might transfer sensation to the proprioceptive body. How might we extend our touch into inanimate objects and still feel? Can we create a sensitive prosthetic? How does a hairbrush, a towel, or a doorknob act as a sensitive prosthetic, not only transferring sensation to the user but performing as a conduit between bodies?

We will then return to the idea of sensation. Participants will organize experiments into a time-based concept or performance. A performance organized around feeling rather than vision and the sensation of the blindfolded performer.


March 8, 2020
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm