Interfacing with Haptics from Electricity to Computing
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Since the rise of radio and television, we have lived in an era defined increasingly by the electronic circulation of images and sounds. But the flood of new computing technologies known as haptic interfaces—which use electricity, vibration, and force feedback to stimulate the sense of touch—offering an alternative way of mediating and experiencing reality.
In Archaeologies of Touch, David Parisi offers the first full history of these increasingly vital technologies, showing how the efforts of scientists and engineers over the past three hundred years have gradually remade and redefined our sense of touch. Through lively analyses of electrical machines, videogames, sex toys, sensory substitution systems, robotics, and human–computer interfaces, Parisi shows how the materiality of touch technologies has been shaped by attempts to transform humans into more efficient processors of information.
With haptics becoming ever more central to emerging virtual-reality platforms (immersive bodysuits loaded with touch-stimulating actuators), wearable computers (haptic messaging systems like the Apple Watch’s Taptic Engine), and smartphones (vibrations that emulate the feel of buttons and onscreen objects), Archaeologies of Touch offers a timely and provocative engagement with the long history of touch technology that helps us confront and question the power relations underpinning the project of giving touch its own set of technical media.
Background image: The Psychological Lab at Cornell. From Edward Bradford Titchener, The Psychological Laboratory of Cornell University (Worcester, Mass.: Oliver B. Wood, 1900), n.p.
Shortlisted for a book prize from the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present
Honorable Mention for the Michelle Kendrick Memorial Book Prize from the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts
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Portions of chapter 1 were previously published as “Shocking Grasps: An Archaeology of Electrotactile Game Mechanics,” Game Studies 13, no. 2 (2013). Portions of chapter 2 were previously published as “Tactile Modernity: On the Scientific Rationalization of Touch in the Nineteenth Century,” in Media, Technology, and Literature in the Nineteenth Century: Image, Sound, and Touch, ed. Collette Colligan and Margaret Linley (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2011), 189–214; copyright 2011. Portions of chapter 5 were previously published as “Fingerbombing, or ‘Touching Is Good’: The Cultural Construction of Technologized Touch,” The Senses & Society 3, no. 3 (Berg Press, 2008), 302–27; copyright 2008.
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