Haptic Hedonism

Paper at the Nordes Conference, 2009.
By Stahl Stenslie. Excerpt from the text. To read the full text follow this link.


Haptic hedonism produces excessive pleasure through the sense of touch in all forms. Ethically it presents a challenge to how the body is excluded in current production of art. For what happens when one transgresses the taboo zone of intimacy? And absorbs the body of the participant into the artwork? Under the dominance of the eye “the non-visual senses have been actively forgotten and written out of the cultural history of the West”.  My work presented here focuses on the skin to use the artistic possibilities of the haptic senses, that is the senses relating to touch and movement.

The body is an aesthetic playground, but one so burdened by moral inhibitions and taboos. It ought to be skinned of its up to two square meter long moralistic fear of the intimate, individual, even orgiastic pleasures. What would a lump of blind flesh not want to feel? The flesh turned “aisthetic” is open to all kinds of experience, including sexual pleasures, even decadent, amoral beauty, trans-, inter- and multisexual appearances and practices. For the flesh in itself is blissfully blind to the conventions of perception. Governed by the mechanisms of biopolitics and the Freudian pleasure principle we tend to neglect pleasure in itself also being a form of legitimate experience. William S. Burroughs said that “perhaps all pleasure is only relief”. Perhaps we should see all pleasure as only an experience? Instead of bad, immoral, filthy or shame-ridden in itself. Pleasure forms one of the elements in the democracy of (sensual) experience. This democracy is based on relational experiences that constitute our actions and morals through negotiation, not by default.

To read the full text follow this link.