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For the finally of my Arts Council research project I am creating Do Touch Me. The research has been into how to create interactive art without touch for a Covid world. The outcome of the research is people want to touch and you really can’t stop them. Instead of trying to change my work to not allow touch I am choosing to embrace it and creating an installation you can touch. To keep the audience safe hand sanitiser will be in place, the audience will be asked to wear masks and they will be asked to use the installation one house hold at a time.

For a bit of fun and to play with the concept of non-touch, Do Touch Me won’t look very nice to touch. I want it to have the feeling of a monster about it. I will use neon colours in clashing tones and create spiky forms. The forms will be soft to touch made from crushed velvet and stuffing. When you get close to the installation the forms will make monster noises to scare the viewer away. To make the installation interactive the audience can move the small, spiky forms (tentacles) using velcro on their bottoms and velcro spots on the large, standing forms.

Do Touch Me will be at the BALTIC from the 20th – 22nd April 2022.

To get started I’ve created prototypes in different fabrics, with different stuffing, fastenings and bases to see how safe they are with families and if it effects how they are playing with in any way. I took the prototypes in Mini Enginneers last week and Anja kept them for her coffee morning on the following Friday.

Some beautiful play took place, they were used as I intended but in other ways too. The tentacles were used to tickle each other, they were stroked, cuddled and used as saws. They become hats and unicorn alicorns. Families used them with the Mini Engineers parts by posting them through tubes. I’m looking forward to seeing them in the BALTIC in their own space and the wonderful play that will happen.

From watching the interaction I have decided to use velvet for the tentacles and waterproof canvas for the taller spikes. They will both have ripstop inners and be finished with zips. Inside they’ll have cardboard bases that sit within the outer layer. The softer velcro will be on the bottom of the tentacles. The monster noises will happen outside of the spikes with a speaker and sensor set up in the same space.

I’m going to make 50 tentacles and 20 standing spikes. The spikes will range from 1m – 1.5m so that children can use them on their own with their grownup.