Caress as Art

Right now, in 2009, there’s an art and media for just about any form of communication.  

There’s mp3, wav, cassettes, records, etc. for sound.
Printing and video for sight.
Recipes and mass-produced foods for taste.
Smell-o-vision movies and aroma-disks (there is such a thing, I’ve got one) for smell. 

But there’s no media for touch. There’s no art of touch. No recorded art of the caress.

Which is a danged shame, because a wonderful caress is a thing of beauty and a joy to receive or express.  

In general, caresses are currently expressed as part of the love and sex thing, massage, friend and family touch, but not in a choreographed sequence of non-theraputic, not-necessarily-erotic movements. You can’t go to Lincoln Center to be caressed by Twila Tharp. And in any case there is no ability to broadcast — all touch is one on one.

You can’t download a popular suite of Kate Winslet caresses or an invigorating foot massage.

But, I have a great deal of confidence that in the development of robots we will be able to record or create sequences of gentle, skin-friendly movements. An artwork of caressing. And that these patterns of touch and movement will be duplicatable and transferable.


Yes, yes, like any new media technology, the pornography of touch, or to coin a phrase pornotactus will be among the first uses.  But, just as not all touching is erotic, not all tactile recordings will be either. 

So, to get things started, here’s the general specifications for a very short, non-erotic, non-massage,  “Hello world.” sort of tactile recording. A brief recorded caress. A little tactile haiku. A tact.


Diagram of simple caress art specifications.

1. Lightly touch above the right eyebrow.
2. Lightly touch above the left eyebrow.
3. Gently roll knuckles along the right cheek.
4. Lightly touch the tip of the nose.

Eventually, this simple caress sequence will be able to be specified in a computer file of robot movements with generated gestures and pressure response parameters that is run through drivers that can adapt to any individual human face, limb or whole body.

What we’ll have will be a recorded work of ars tactus, the art of touch. 

In addition to erotic and artistic tacts, we will have massage tacts delivered by robot masseurs. Possibly designed by — or recorded from — skilled caress artists, utilizing touching themes, designs and tactoharmonies.

~ by bracketbracket on May 29, 2009.

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