The Process of Touch
As a designer in the 21st century, it is quite often a computer that aids in the actualization of a concept or design idea. The mouse in particular is the instrument that makes many of our intangible thoughts or rough sketches into a reality. While this tangible product gives life to the intangible form, it takes away the life of the conceptual idea. To me, the ideation stage can be more stimulating and satisfying than the production, for it is during this creative process that I thrive and feel energized. There is obviously a level of desire and intent to actualize a concept, and as it is happening, it is both satisfying and disenchanting; however, while thoughts become reality and receive new life, their original form is diminished. Therefore, I see the mouse as a dual-edged sword, a necessary evil.
In my project, I would like to examine our process of touch as it relates to the computer mouse; I can imagine this in a couple different forms. At first, I imagined using the underside of the mouse (where the laser beam or other sensor device is housed) to sense movement. By lining up a sequence of mouses suspended from the ceiling, I could form or infer a sort of runway for the audience to engage with. As people walk down the runway, the reprogrammed sensors in the mouse would communicate with a screen at the end of the runway to create a drawing or other visual response to the movement. By removing any physical connection to the mouse, our normal understanding of this device and how it produces intangible forms is inverted, returning the power to less tangible senses and form (i.e., movement, light, etc).
While reading Lupton's article (Skin: New Design Organics), I formed a new idea based on the quote from Mark C. Taylor's book, Hiding: "At the point where I make contact with the world, I am always already dead." For me, this spoke critically about the creative process; in a sense, once an object has been created or an idea actualized, the concept itself is dead. Shortly following, Lupton refers to the skin as "a screen on which we can watch the body's amazing ability to heal itself while also witnessing its inevitable collapse (31)" which draws another similarity of the fuzzy realm between concept and prototype -- the death of one form and the life of another. After mentally processing these ideas, I envisioned a different setup for my project. This time the audience would be invited to interact and engage with just one mouse, perhaps in a normal computer setting (i.e. monitor, keyboard, mouse). At any point while one's hand is hovering above the mouse, an unexpected, conceptual result would be relayed on the screen. However, once the hand makes contact with the mouse, the ideas are gone, or lines are straightened, etc. Perhaps this more drastically takes the power away from the mouse, enforcing that the most energy is inherent in the creator and that that is where the best ideas are formed.