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Without Touch

What happens when we are not touched, or touched rarely? Does this lack of touch affect us? If so, how? What does touch tell us about where we are, who we are and where we belong?


Without Touch imagePicture from BitterSuite: Tapestries, photo credit JP Carvahalo 

Without Touch is a short multi-sensory piece which invites the audience to experience stories and memories of prolonged tactile deprivation. Built across five days with a team of devisors: Michelle Wright, Sam Castell Ward, Linz Nakorn and Tiiu Mortly. The project is inspired by the notion that when we shake hands, hug, high five or wrap our arms around someone it brings us closer to that person. Touch helps us connect to people and the world around us. We experience touch everyday, whether that's sitting on a seat on the tube, feeling our clothes against our skin, or holding our mug of hot tea.

But we all have our own thoughts on touch, our own boundaries. And some of us may experience too much touch, some not enough.

What happens when we are not touched, or touched rarely?

Does this lack of touch affect us? If so, how?

What does touch tell us about where we are, who we are and where we belong?

Project events

Open Senses Ideas in progress (Featuring Without Touch)
8 June 2018, Rich Mix, London

This event featured three participatory projects that responded to a range of issues linked to closeness and belonging; including migration, politics of touch and tactile deprivation, and the identity of people with learning disabilities across history. Audience members were encouraged to engage and experiment with the presenters, to be actively involved in the workshopping, to discuss the work presented with others and to connect in a profoundly different way.

Project team

Dr Mirko Farina - academic lead
Dr Mirko Farina is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at King’s College, London (under David Papineau and Nicholas Shea). He is also a visiting fellow in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge (under Tim Lewens). 

Dr Farina pursued his Doctoral Studies in the Department of Cognitive Science at Macquarie University (Sydney) under the supervision of John Sutton (primary supervisor), Richard Menary, and David Kaplan. His PhD was awarded with no corrections on February 25, 2016 (Examiners: Peter Godfrey-Smith; Michael Anderson; Brian Keeley).

Dr Farina also holds an MPhil in Philosophy of Mind from the University of Edinburgh where he was supervised by Andy Clark, Julian Kiverstein, and Tillmann Vierkant, an MRes in Logic and Philosophy of Science from the University of Amsterdam/Milan where he was supervised by Corrado Sinigaglia, and a BA in Philosophy from the University of Milan.

During his doctoral studies he was visiting fellow at Aarhus University (under Andreas Roepstorff), and at The Center for Mind, Brain, Behaviour, and Cognitive Evolution - Ruhr University Bochum - (under Tobias Schlicht).

BitterSuite - cultural lead
BitterSuite is pioneering a new way to experience music through all the senses. When you attend a BitterSuite event, you don’t just hear music with your ears - you feel it on your skin, taste harmonies, and smell melodies.

BitterSuite was founded in 2014 by London-based director and composer Stephanie Singer. They are based in London, UK and their international network extends to France, Spain, Canada and the United States. 

As an internationally touring concept, BitterSuite have crafted and honed a unique process. Each piece is the culmination of a rigorous year long process bringing together composers, somatic practioners, 30 dancers, a perfumer, a chef, crossmodal researchers and classical musicians.

They are currently researching their next project, whilst also collaborating with many exciting people including Kings College London, Sense UK, Graeae Theatre, Mac Birmingham and more.

See Bittersuite's  website for more info on upcoming projects, including their involvement with Sensibility Festival which you can read about more here.

Open Senses - project partner
Open Senses was launched in May 2017 as the world’s first festival dedicated to sensory practice and research - uniting a diverse group of practitioners dedicated to exploring the senses. In 2018 they present Open Senses: Ideas in Progress, a chance to bring the sensory community together on a regular basis, with the goal of opening up pathways for experimentation and collaboration.

Open Senses: Ideas in Progress is a series of events throughout 2018, all hosted at Rich Mix in East London. It is an informal space to play and test out ideas and new work. The festival encourages applications from artists, musicians, neurologists, psychologists, SEN workers, animators, chefs, perfumers and any practitioner working with the senses. They are keen to respond to the latest research and developments in the world of sensorial practice. Each event lasts 2 hours and includes four presentation slots plus time to discuss and workshop ideas with the group.

Without Touch is a collaboration between King’s College London’s Department of Philosophy and Bittersuite.  It was supported by the university's Culture team.

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