The Digital Retreat from Tactile Experience

The computer screen is a frame separating two time/spaces, one real, the other unreal, virtual.

The three-dimensional space our attention is immersed in does not, in fact, exist. It is an illusion.

We ‘go to’, via browsers, but we go no where. We are tethered to the screen.

To experience what is on the other side of the screen, the body must remain still.

The 3-D object and the device may be highly mobile, but their users are not. They are highly immobile.

The medieval book was tethered to the table of the medieval library. Now we are tethered to an assortment of computer devices. We are held captive within the frame. (Lev Manovich ‘An Archaeology of a Computer Screen’)

Notice the tendency of people to photograph themselves, with their friends, at places, as if to provide evidence for themselves that they are there. A furious rush from place to place, as if in a desperate rush to accumulate evidence of their existence. ‘I was there. I have proof. Look, that’s me’. (Thich Nhat Hanh)

We ‘snap’ rather than experience. We spend less time looking at them. We could print them, but seldom do. This proof of our existence disappears when the device is turned off.

So many images, vacuous and emotionally blank. Cultural flotsam, signifying nothing.

The very act of shooting and consuming these images is a distraction. At a demonstration, professional photographers photograph demonstrators photographing them. Who is demonstrating? (Charlotte Raven)

We believe that none of this matters because we believe reading (texts, images) is purely a matter for the eyes and their vision. But this belief is mistaken. Reading, being, involves all the body; it is a multi-sensory activity.

It is the iPhone or the iPad that has the emotional experience, not us. These emotions are designed into them by ‘emotional designers‘.

One thought on “The Digital Retreat from Tactile Experience

  1. Sarah says:

    “We ‘snap’ rather than experience” The last comment reminds me of a sunset during the summer…It was an amazing blend of colours with the mountains in the background. As we stood admiring it my cousin declare she was running inside to get her camera. We told her it would be over before she got back – just stay and enjoy it – but she went anyways, determined to capture the moment…and by the time she returned, the sun had set by.
    I love looking at my old pictures – seeing things I can’t remember and remembering the aspects of a photo that are not in the photos such as the smells and the tactile sensations. However, there is a distance created from the event through the very at of taking the photos. We remove ourselves from the experience when we stop to take a picture. We take our focus off the object and place instead in on the camera and through the lens. If we are posing for the photos we are similarly removed as we pause our experience to project a desired image of ourselves.

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