Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:30pm
Touch Touch Touch Touch Feel

Curated by Abina Manning and Steve Reinke

Imagining touch — how another experiences touch (feels) — is the beginning of empathy, of empathic human, social relations. We may be able to share in the experience of looking (at a sunset, or koala), hearing (the cries of a child), tasting (spaghetti, and other pastas) and smelling (farts) but one cannot feel the pain of another. When artists work with touch, they necessarily also bring into play aspects of empathy.

McLuhan pointed out in Understanding Media that touch — the haptic — has less to do with objects pressing against the skin than with a complex interplay between the senses that involves touch as the intermediary site in which one sense may be translated for another. If not full-blown synasthesia, then a kind of blurring of sensuous modes: eyes and ears that are pierced, caressed, punched, scraped, tickled. But let’s get back to objects pressing against our skin, which — rather than a blurring — begs for an obliteration of the other senses. Can one talk and feel at the same time? Yes, but not really feel: for that you need to shut up and close your eyes. This would seem to suggest that video is a particularly anti-haptic medium, as it tends to be full of talking and looking. But here are videos that elegantly suggest otherwise: they feel and, consequently you feel, I feel, we feel. (Touching optional.)

Birthday Suit — with Scars and Defects, Lisa Steele, 1974, 13 mins
One Same Same Thing, Jan Peacock, 2003, 8 mins
El Diablo en la piel (Devil in the Flesh), Ximena Cuevas, 1998, 5 mins
The Gardener, Alex Grant, 2005, 5 mins
Exquisite Corpse, Ernest Gusella, 1978, 8 mins
60 Unit: Bruise, Paul Wong 1976, 5 mins
Forced Inanimate Connection: Climax Modeling, Sterling Ruby, 2002, 7 mins
Baby, Hester Scheurwater, 2006, 2 mins
Mama, Hester Scheurwater, 2005, 3 mins
Show and Tell in the Land of Milk and Honey, Dani Leventhal, 2007, 13 mins
Human Touch, Sterling Ruby, 2001, 2 mins
Shuffle (excerpt), Douglas Waterman, 1971, 5 mins
Spirograph #4, Barb Webb, 2006, 1 min

Abina Manning has worked to promote artists’ film and video for many years in both Europe and the U.S. Abina relocated to Chicago from London in 1999 to work at the Video Data Bank, where she is the Director. Prior to that she worked at the LUX Centre for many years, and she was Director of the Pandæmonium Festival of Moving Images, a major European showcase of new film, video and multi-media that took place at London’s Institute for Contemporary Arts.

Steve Reinke is an artist and writer best known for his videos, which are widely screened, exhibited and collected. A book of his scripts, Everybody Loves Nothing was recently published by Coach House. He has co-edited several anthologies, including The Sharpest Point: Animation at the End of Cinema (with Chris Gehman). He lives in Toronto and Chicago, where he is associate professor of Art Theory & Practice at Northwestern University. Check out his website: http://www.myrectumisnotagrave.com.

Tickets - $7, available at door.