Theater & Performance Art Computer Graphics & Computational Arts Interactive Installation & Digital Performance

Touch Me Here: A Virtual Touch Cinema (2017-20)

Touch Me Here(2018) is an interactive performance art piece that invites the participant to virtually touch and paint on the body of a female artist who is standing at a distance, in the same closed intimate space. Using the artist’s body as a canvas, the participant makes a virtual body-art piece with a custom-built augmented reality painting application. This interactive digital artwork explores and challenges the ethics of live-interaction, while simultaneously blurring the line between the private and public spheres. Other major themes of this work include: the dialectic between virtual and real, micro and macro gestures, and motions and emotions. Touch Me Here is a digital performance revisit* of Valie Export’s Tap and Touch Cinema (1968).

This artwork is a critique of the female body as a sexual object of desire in (digital) mass media, by both challenging the relationship between touch and gaze, and accentuating the fragmentation between the senses in intimate interactions via the digital mediation. In this piece, the male gaze of the participant (either male or female) is challenged and returned by the dominant gaze of the female artist who has invited the participant to touch her body virtually. Similar to Export’s piece, this interactive digital performance pushes the boundaries between private and public, not only by inviting the participants to virtually touch the female body and paint on it as a canvas, but also by extending the intimate virtual interactions from the private performance space to the public exhibition hall. The artist attempts to address, criticize, and subvert the objectification of the female body in the consumerist society.

*“Performance Revisit”

“Performance Revisit”–as opposed to “performance re-enactment”–is a term that I have created for my practice-based research, which refers to the construction of an original performance artwork in order to remember and respond to a previously-presented historical performance piece.

While “Performance Re-enactment” (or “Re-performance”) is usually referred to the act of preservation of a past performance by reviving it into a new performance event, and the replication of the old one as accurate as possible, usually with archival purposes in mind, “Performance Revisit” does not attempt to function as an accurate living archive of the previously-performed work. The new performance revisit (or “Revisiting Performance”) is in fact only inspired by the historical artwork, and by no means a replication or simulation of that piece. In other words, a “Performance Revisit” is a repositioned, re-contextualized, and (Deleuzian) re-territorialized version of the older performance work, which problematizes and makes an analytical dialectic around the similar dominant themes or concepts in both.

Technical Specifications:

  • Custom-built spatial augmented reality application
  • Design and implementation of augmented reality painting toolkit
  • Using Microsoft Kinect infrared camera for motion recognition (using C++, OpenNI and Libfreenect)
  • Painting modes design using generative algorithms
  • Audio-enable and disembodied gesture-based interaction

Paper Publication: 

Sajadieh, Sahar, and Hannah Wolfe. “Come Hither to Me: Performance of a Seductive Robot.” In Extended Abstracts of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, p. INT030. ACM, 2019.

Art Exhibitions: 

  • 2017: ACM Multimedia Exhibition, Mountain View, CA
  • 2017: Selected for exhibition at International Symposium of Electronic Arts (ISEA) 2017, Manizales, Colombia
  • 2017: TransLAB, Media Arts and Technology, UCSB
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