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All are invited to hear Associate Professor David Parisi
Tuesday, May 1, 4 p.m.
Gregory Hall 215

The new wave of interest in haptic human-computer interfaces, fueled by a resurgent interest in virtual reality, has prompted speculation that we are finally witnessing the long-anticipated incorporation of touch into the mediated sensorium. Such predictions mobilize an account of mediatic modernity that frames touch as a sense left behind and marginalized by the development of technical media for the eyes and the ears.

However, as Parisi shows in this talk, the current technoscientific harnessing of touch by Computer Haptics exists in continuity with a longer tradition of remaking and transforming touch through laboratory experiments. Beginning with touch’s role in apprehending electricity in the eighteenth century and ending with the recent efforts at commercializing haptics in virtual reality, Parisi moves through five distinct modes of interfacing with tactility, with each feeding into a gradual reformatting of touch necessary for its incorporation into contemporary digital media systems. By tracing this lineage, he shows how a thoroughly technological haptic subject—an analogous formulation to the seeing and listening subjects that underpin image and sound media—became increasingly embedded in and expressed through a range of medical, scientific, commercial, and communicative discourses.    

David Parisi is an Associate Professor of Emerging Media at the College of Charleston, and holds a PhD in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University. His new book,  “Archaeologies of Touch: Interfacing with Haptics from Electricity to Computing” (University of Minnesota Press, 2018) engages in a media archaeological treatment of haptic human-computer interfaces that links their development to the histories of electricity, psychophysics, cybernetics, robotics, sensory substitution, cybersex, and digital games. He is also co-editor, along with Mark Paterson and Jason Archer, of the Haptic Media Studies themed issue of New Media & Society. His work has appeared in outlets such as in Vice, Game Studies, Logic Magazine, Senses & Society, Animation, and Figures of Touch: Sense, Technics, Body.  

Sponsored by the Institute of Communications Research (College of Media)

Co-sponsored by:
                        Department of Media & Cinema Studies
                        Department of Advertising
                        School of Art & Design
                        School of Information Sciences
                        Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities