Explore an imaginative exercise that investigates the relationship between bodies and objects. Relational objects are used to activate the full range of senses. Created by the art collective useless initiatives, the Haptic Encounters activities are inspired by Assembly Required artist Lygia Clark’s therapeutic work (see video below) and by disabled embodiment and disability aesthetics.

useless initiatives is based in the Bay Area, CA, and is composed of artists Jillian Crochet, Beatriz Escobar, and River Black.

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Instructions for a Haptic Encounter for one person:
See the attachments below under resources.

Instructions for a Haptic Encounter for two people:

1. With a friend/partner/lover/neighbor/enemy, gather materials in your house and from the world that have interesting textures, sounds, associations, or the ability to create sensations when used with a body. Look in your kitchen, yard, bathroom, craft closet, and garage. Let objects become unfamiliar and disassociated from their everyday use. Hide the objects you collect from those your partner collects for the maximum sensation surprise factor. You can put the objects you gather in a pillowcase for this purpose.

2. Once you are satisfied with the objects that have been collected, have your partner lay down in a safe and comfortable area without distractions. Ask them to close their eyes, or if they want to they can use an eye mask. Talk with your partner about what kinds of sensations they are comfortable experiencing and where on their body is okay to touch. Settle into silence.

3. Take out an object from your pile, hold it in your hands, and contemplate how it feels. Imagine a new use for this object. Maybe this is the Here and Now Brush, that when brushed against your partner’s skin will bring them into the present moment where nothing is more real than the hairs of the brush tickling against their skin. Maybe this object is the Long Ago, Far Away Tube, that when you blow through it your partner will be transported back to childhood. These connotations are to help you as the “toucher” be intentional in the experience you are creating for the “feeler.”

4. Without explaining the object verbally, use it on your partner’s body in such a way as to evoke its hidden power/potential. Create a symphony of sensations, feelings, thoughts, and memories for your partner.

5. After the right amount of time has passed and enough sensations have been enacted, switch partners. Change roles in a ceremonial way.

6. As the “feeler” or receiving partner, feel into, listen for, and marinate in the sensations you experience. What is arising within you? 

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