Engendering tactility through haptic bodysuits


Session Title:

  • Sensory Body (Papers)

Presentation Title:

  • Engendering tactility through haptic bodysuits




  • The paper presents how developments in the field of Smart Clothing and electronic textiles engenders new, corporal sensitivity and new artistic applications of touch. The senses of touch in the context of new media art and immersive environments pose many challenges. The paper centers around my work on haptic bodysuits that create somatic impressions of both touch and presence in such contexts. Haptic technologies in bodysuits enable sense‑manipulative art experiences using the somatosensory system to investigate the ways we perceive and understand the world. Within immersive virtual environments and multisensory interfaces the artistic experience promises to become a sensual fusion of man and artwork, dependent upon the user’s presence and bodily functions. A central component here is the design of bodysuits.A bodysuit is a wearable device in the shape of a suit that in some combination reads, feels and manipulates its users. Most bodysuit projects such as smart fashion (Seymour 2008) are passive devices, using the body as an input device to influence external expressions (projections, sound etc) and not as a surface for internal impressions and sensations. Here haptic bodysuits distinguishes themselves by using a larger part of the somatosensory system. Users are so better included as active participants and even performers in the formation of somatic artworks. My work on haptic bodysuits started with cyberSM (1993) enabling two users to communicate via touch, voice and visuals over the internet. The paper will further present the immersive, virtual reality installation Erotogod (2003) where the bodysuit is designed as a two way instrument, both reading users auto‑erotic self‑touch and impressing the users with complex vibrotactile patterns.