RISD Graduate Thesis – Molding Life Installation  2014 

Our physical bodies are limited and impermanent. In humanity, I observe a universal desire to transcend these limitations. But our senses are boundless, rich and even immortal. Our senses are the extension of our physical bodies. The smell, touch and impression you left to people could affect them for a long period of time or even their whole life. And also how human senses themselves and the nature? how developing technologies changed human existence? In our day-to-day existence, we often send information out in multiple ways which we may not noticed, we affect other lives, and others effect us in the same ways.

 

I have been exploring the effect of physical touch since 2012. Thinking about 30 years ago, we exchanged information and expressed emotions by face-to-face chatting or writing letters. We cherished every possibility of communication and connection with others. Nowadays, global internet makes everything so fast and so easy. We don’t appreciate the connection, and we don’t have deep contact with others anymore. Physical contact, however, is one of the most effective way of communication. Even though we used to be so familiar with touch as we were with breathing, it’s often downplayed or disregarded even within such fields as the history of the body or the history of medicine. Human skin is the oldest and the most sensitive of our organs, our first medium of communication, and our most efficient protector. Touch is the parent of our eyes, ears, nose and mouth, is the mother of senses. Each owner of a human body necessarily bound up in the physical. For me, the most exciting aspect of touch is that touch is so broadly related to our culture, history, individual personality, human community, sensitive feelings, humanity, sociology, psychology emotions, biological effects, and our relationship with other species, etc.. I see touch not only as a special form of meaningful language, connection, and interaction, but also a representation of the human being, which effects profoundly in human society and the larger world.

 

Thesis Book

 

Oxytocin brain

Oxytocin brain

Oxytocin, which enhances a sense of trust, empathy and attachment, has a critical impact both on mother-infant bonding and social bonding. Oxytocin levels increase when we love, connect, and socialize with those around us. Oxytocin connects us to other people, makes us feel what other people feel.

You are connected

You are connected

Perception plays the role of governing the way we communicate with one another. Humans form connections based on their own reality and belief system, hence, we tend to migrate towards people with similar likes and dislike, building these networks of people we know, respect and trust.

The space between us

The space between us

The body schema – an awareness of the movement and coordination between different parts of the body and between our body and the environment, the sense of where “my” body leaves off and “yours” begins – is a part of bodily awareness that senses that our body belongs to us and to no one else, as well as our sense of movement and balance, our ability to locate parts of ourselves, our sense of our body size and shape, and the awareness that our body has boundaries that separate us from others.

Distance and touch

Distance and touch

The other and intimate space are deeply interrelated in two ways: intimate space appears at the exact moment that the other appears; and secondly, the other appears as space or distance, which is said to be a part of the “Self”. The second proposed interrelation brings further consequences. The other does not appear only as space, but also through and as an overwhelming feeling. Hall ascribes the cause of this overwhelming feeling to the “greatly stepped-up sensory inputs.”-james-mt.blogspot.com

Touch History

Touch History

In the past, touching was a common part of our life. Especially in the Middle Ages –– the communal times, it was dangerous to stand alone as an individual and dangerous to venture outside. Common bowl, common tub, common bed and common forms of social touching fostered a feeling of unity. No barriers or suspicious separated oneself from the group. It created an environment of openness and trust. In the Middle Ages information was generally communicated through the medium of the human body.

Reference to Core Connection

Molding Life

Molding Life

Tom Friedman, Circle Dance, sculpture, 2010

I analyzed and abstracted the positions people always use when they are posing for their photos, and have been thinking if there is a way for people to keep “posing” or “behaving” (not for cameras) and have fun. Then I conduced the series of “cookie cutter”.

The face to face. Two bodies are far away from each other, hands are reaching out, exploring and stretching to another. Touch can be sensed all over the body, but the real tact is concentrated in hands and fingers.

During sleep, you cannot fake your body language, this is the time when you are honest and vulnerable and your sleeping position can therefore reveal a lot about your relationship. Back to back but touching – means a couple are comfortable, intimate and relaxed with each other. And I think this position also reflects trust.

In today’s society, people have little opportunity for taking a moment to be “alone” in a comfortable and enjoyable environment. When the hustle and bustle of the city gets too intense and we have a natural reaction to have a “time out”. Is it possible to physically create your own feeling of “home” within a city – a place where you can take the time to feel yourself reflected in your surroundings and others, offering a moment for contemplation?

2014 RISD Grad Show

2014 RISD Grad Show

Steel, felt

2014 RISD Grad Show

Steel, felt