OPEN CALL: Tactile Dialogues

Tactile Dialogues is conceived to investigate the crossing points between interface design, somatic
practices and theater. The focus of the laboratory will lie on haptics, hands and the sense of touch.
How theatrical is our relationship to machines and what are the possibilities of the body or the theater
when considered as an interface?

Participation will be open to a small group of artists, researchers or professionals from interface
design and performing arts fields. The 4-day-Lab will take the form of a blind date. Each day the
participants will be assigned to each other in groups of twos or threes, having a whole day to exchange
and to discover commonalities and differences, and if plausible, to go further in actualising some of the
emerging ideas as prototypes. At the end of each day, each group is invited to share something with
the bigger group. The format of the sharing can be very open, ranging from a verbal summary of the
exchange, to practical tryouts.

The aim is to convene again in 2024, and present the outcomes at DeSingel in the 2024/25 season.

For this gathering, we are looking for a few more participants that feel interested in the crossover
between performance-making and interface-design, and can relate in some way to the above mentioned
topics. If you feel addressed, please send an email to Begüm with information on your background (biography/CV/website…), a few sentences elaborating on why you would like to join Tactile Dialogues and what object or tool you would consider bringing along.

This first gathering will last 4 days (11-14 October) and will take place in a rehearsal room at DeSingel
in Antwerp. Meeting times will be approximately 10h30-18h30. There will be a fee of 200 EUR/day for
all selected participants.

The participants so far are:
Robert M Ochshorn is a software engineer, cultural theorist, and media researcher. He develops
unusual digital interfaces to observe and activate sound, video, touch, and language. He is interested
in how new communication tools enable new social practices, and vice versa. Ochshorn is a columnist
for Starship Magazine and co-founder and CEO at Reduct.Video. He’s interested here in re-activating a sensing/touching device, and can also offer some updates from the world of synthetic voices, listeners, readers, and watchers.

Ugo Dehaes is a choreographer who shifted his focus on making dance with objects and custom
built robots. For the Lab he will bring all kinds of (servo-) motors and ways to control them. Also materials
such as silicone and latex + a 3D printer. Sub-themes he likes to work with:

  • Making artificial skin or muscles and researching how to change their aspect (rimpling, …) and how
    to move them.
  • Trying to add and animate hairs on these skins.
  • Looking into the idea of constructing a tickling/ticklish machine.
  • Researching the haptic function of motors (the way they feel that they are held back or are being
  • The tactility of language, the semantics of touch
  • Building an index of affects related to tickling
  • Tickling as torture: A History

Begüm Erciyas has been developing participatory formats that allow visitors to be their own audience, and therefore to experience the simultaneity of doing and perceiving. She will bring a small black box, in which one or more people can lose their hands. She will also bring some headphones that can be synchronized through radio signal and a tactile bass shaker.

  • Speculating the future of our hands and our sense of touch
  • The tactility of sound and voice
  • Building a touch-to-speech and speech-to-touch interface

Ilan Manouach is an affiliate scholar at Harvard metaLAB (within Harvard Berkman Klein Center
for Internet and Society); postdoctoral scholar on “Computational Creativity” (University of Liège);
author of over 25 books (three of which co-created with AI); cross-functional AI publication producer
and director; editor of a glossary on generative AI featuring 150 cultural and tech thought leaders;
appointed expert on the comic book industry to the Belgian government; technical arts strategy
consultant for the Onassis Foundation; founder of comics research non-profit Echo Chamber; founder of Greek publishing house spearheading translation of 40 cornerstone foreign language media/digital humanities texts; co-creator of pioneering AI-generated comic series “The Neural Yorker”, subject of forthcoming Routledge book analyzing his artistic work.

Lea Søvsø : is working as a costume designer for performance, art and her artistic
practice she has a big interest on how bodies move and the subtle or powerful restriction which material can cause in interaction with them. She is also working since 2008 in different performative contexts with her voice. Science 2019 she has been working with spinning and knitting primarily with hands and, then, extended to a hacked knitting machine, developing different materials and digital designs with this machine. She will bring a knitting machine and different possible materials to knit with.

  • The fine information flow between machine and human.
  • Developing a “tickling machine” also interest me, how can a machine be “touching”
  • Can the knitting design be transformed into “tickling information” past on maybe by the movement of the needles?