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A Touching Interface

Publishing With Sentimental Tools

Project details

Bachelor – Graphic Design
Honours Programme
Visual Culture

A touching interface is a printer developed from the urgent need to decolonise art and design spaces. Having an interest in publishing, I aim to develop tools which facilitate community-driven sharing. I want to inspire communities to resist oppression and seek empowerment through publishing. For that I set out to understand the politics of the objects we use every day and reimagine them from a decolonial and anticapitalist perspective. Taking Audre Lorde’s ideas about the erotic and Franco Berardi’s view on affect, I’ve developed a printer which embraces affect and slow processes as a subversive gesture. Through this theoretical lens I find that capitalism has led to the miniaturisation of our appliances, making them sleek and impenetrable. This in turn mystifying everyday technology and removing us from intricate processes. The designing of interfaces, the planes where we interact with computers, aims to remove excess, hence removing affect, the body and our deepest emotions.


To counteract this process I built a printer which prints poetry, the language of affect and subjectivity, and which is activated by touching the embroidery it is adorned with. The printer aims to invite intimacy and more awareness of the viewers own physicality. Dismantling white supremacy requires understanding the politics of the objects we use every single day and becoming aware of the different structures that do not serve us in order to infiltrate and resist them. This tool is a step towards that goal by combining the unlikely pair of excess and technology. 

Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest external horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.

Audre Lorde

As a marginalised creative myself I believe every artistic gesture is and should be political. Decolonising myself and my art practice is a work in progress fuelled by anger and frustration as well as love and hope in order to live the immense joy I know us humans are capable of experiencing. This printer is another gesture towards this bigger goal, where I research different methods to find what resonates. This is one step in that process, where I applied Franco Berardi’s call for reactivation to my publishing practice. This meant analysing from different perspectives where and how affect is missing from the printing process and then finding ways to introduce the emotional body in the interaction with the tool. Audre Lorde’s texts deepened my understanding of affect and emotions and the erotic, helping me define what the erotic is in a visual design context, specifically for computers and printer interfaces.

Throughout the development of the printer I found myself questioning the accessibility of this tool. I was met with steep learning curves, as I am a complete novice when it comes to computer science. But as this project was a step in the pursuit to decolonise the art and design world, I found myself driven by passion to understand the code and learn how to solder. Perhaps accessibility is not only about things being easy to learn, it’s about appeal and resonance. If tools and texts actually catered to marginalised communities, it would make a huge difference whether artists would feel inclined to participate. I hope with this project that it resonates with the right people, that they feel the love that went into the creation of this printer, and that they understand what it means to create your own tools and to publish your own creations. Not in the sense to glorify struggle, but more in a way that something you had a hand in creating, will always have more value. It will ignite and lay connections.

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