Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Talking about touching sound: haptic rhetoric

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In HICP work we often ask "touching" questions: What does that sound feel like? or What is the "felt sense" of that sound? In the arts (in this piece by Wiest, for example), especially those created for the blind or deafblind, the metalanguage and structure of the interaction (its rhetoric, in some sense) seem to be well established--although not very interpretable to those "haptically challenged" of us who do not live in those mediums.

From earlier posts it is evident that the haptic arts and haptic applications are becoming more widely engaged as the technology evolves for it. One of my first encounters with "haptic rhetoric" of a kind was Lessac's use of musical instruments to refer to different vowel qualities and character.

It is only recently that I have come to fully appreciate the genius of Lessac and his ability to "conduct" the voices and bodies of his students--with words that deftly modulate a wide spectrum of intensity, color, movement and emotional content. The language we need to do the same is there, available for us in several disciplines. We just have to "orchestrate" our work in similar ways . . . get on the "band wagon," so to speak!

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