In 2018, Studium Generale Rietveld Academie embarked on “Hold Me Now — Feel and Touch in an Unreal World,” an extensive artistic research trajectory to conceive how the haptic is thought of and experienced in life and art. Following a preliminary program of audio-visual, participatory, performative, theatrical, and theoretical contributions at the Rietveld Academie, a four-day conference-festival guest curated by Karen Archey, Mark Paterson, Rizvana Bradley, and Jack Halberstam at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam further traced ways in which touch informs and reforms the body.

In the chapter “Fantasy in the Hold” from The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study, Stefano Harney and Fred Moten write on hapticality as “the capacity to feel through others, for others to feel through you, for you to feel them feeling you." [1]1
Stefano Harvey and Fred Moten, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study (Wivenhoe: Minor Compositions, 2013), 98.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19 we keep physical distance to save lives. We may not be together in one place, but together we search for post-physical connections to live life. We hope that some of the video documentation in this series and a rereading of the lexicon composed by Charlotte Rooijackers [2]2
The lexicon was composed by Charlotte Rooijackers for Studium Generale Rietveld Academie in 2018. This republished version contains a number of new words and terms.
may stimulate notions of hapticality and non/physical touch—a way of being held, a way of holding on!

—Jort van der Laan

This lexicon shows a painful delivery
from queered infinities to dis/possessions and energies
may this assemblage of words and their terms provide some clarity
and support you in your beautiful struggles
you are many!

a : the indefinite article : lasting for an unknown or unstated length of time

access : 41 percent of humans don’t have access to the internet

affect : to touch the feelings of someone (else), to pretend to have feelings and feel (something), to assume (something, pretentiously), to make an impression (on others)

amenity : a pleasant, desirable, and functional quality of a place or person

art : antiretroviral therapy—drugs that slow down the spread of HIV : human immunodeficiency virus—and its multiplication within the body

autonomy : may occur after a successful liberation from foreign rule and a form of self-control can be established (of a person or people)

autopsy : a posthumous surgery performed for the purpose of establishing a cause of death and possible actions leading up to it

bareback : to have sex without a condom

bestial pleasures : taste and touch

blackness : to feel this is to be among the ones who cannot own, the ones who have nothing and who, in having nothing, have everything—a willingness to be in the space that has been abandoned by colonialism, by rule, by order

blindness : unable to see because of injury, disease, or congenital condition, and confused with those unwilling or avoiding to acknowledge something problematic

bodies

> society will only be civil once it has learnt to count bodies.

civil

civilization will take its form when we have learnt how to count.

body : anything with a volume that is able, seemingly and suggested, to act together as a whole, as one; you will find the body in this lexicon specifically as being plural, able to be present in different places at once, and porous : accessed by an environment and entities (ideas, thoughts, stimuli, air, food, etc.) considered external to our body—a body is always somewhere and cannot be isolated

button : button it—a way of telling someone to stop talking

call : a call-to-order and an interruption

care : from Old High German chara, “grief, lament”; charon, “grieve”; and Old Norse kǫr, “sickbed”—to care for someone or something is inherently associated with mutually inclusive feelings of pain

chemistry : a scientific field dealing with identifying (the composition of substances or) bodies, as well as the complex interactions between them : a feeling of energy between people

click : a kind of chemistry, feeling a connection

connection : a relationship : in an informal sense specifically to connect with a narcotics supplier : from Late Middle English “be united physically”

contagion : the communication of disease through physical closeness between organisms

cosmic hobo : someone who is homeless beyond conception

dispossession : a kind of homelessness we seek and embrace

e : short for electronic (digital) : electric : energy : ecstasy

emergency : the emergence or unveiling of an already existing devastating reality

e-motion : a movement of e

empathy : feeling for someone else as a way of drawing near

energy : bliss

entanglement/s : relation/s of obligation

ethicality : a form of hospitality to the stranger threaded through oneself

factory : a place that produces objects for consumption in such a dominant and forceful manner that its rhythm can be felt everywhere

feel : often only the first part of the English expression is used : seeing is believing, but feeling is the truth

feeling : feeling the feeling : or rather feelin’ the feelin,’ lyrics by black shadow—asking about a way of feeling through others, a feel for feeling others feeling you

finger : putting your finger on something is a means of precisely identifying something

gaga-dancing : overexcited or irrational, mentally confused, senile form of dancing typically resulting from infatuation or excessive enthusiasm

greedoids : possessive individuals of the algorithmic world (that shit is genocidal)

guts : the belly and the organs held within or without the body that hold the essence or character of something

gym : a place for physical education and naked exercise

haptics : from the Greek haptikos, “able to touch or grasp” : we are looking at both external and internal sensations, and not necessarily speaking solely of human sensations but including objects and environment—the haptic or hapticality can be used alongside aesthetics and affect (affective media)

heart : a hollow muscular organ

i : suffix forming the plural in Latin

-ility : a contemporary variation on (name)calling a trend an -ism

immaterial labor : something easily be mistaken for life

immaturity : there’s a kind of fear in the university around something like amateurism—immaturity, pre-maturity, not graduating, not being ready somehow : not being ready is also a kind of openness to being affected by others : dispossessed and possessed by others

indeterminacy : undecided or virtual—not being one or the other : an important concept to describe the radical openness of matter itself, completely undoing the way we conceive of identity and being

infectious : like an open wound : likely to be transmitted to (living) organisms through the environment

infinity : without end

informal : not without a form but rather the giving of form to the already social quality of time and space so that you can simultaneously be in more places, and be more than one, and see things and hear things as a way of being with others

inhuman : our human actions lacking compassion : humanity and inhumanity are both deeply contradictory notions—only the human can be called inhuman, effectively describing the absolute worst actions and qualities we can imagine

incense : something burned to cleanse rooms of non-magical d/evils

intimacy : a kind of closeness that may scare you profoundly and yet you may long for intensely

interface : to connect or communicate with a computer

intoxication : a state when something else is taking over, assimilating your body to the degree you lose your mind or health over it, a form of poisoning

joystick : something in between flying an airplane and masturbating

knowledge/s : can be produced and possess all kinds of ideological limits

learn : to grow (older)

labor : a kind of rhythm that can be called to break and kill humans

limbo : a Trinidadian dance performed at wakes where for nine days the descendants of the dead pass, dancing horizontally, underneath a rope, or underneath someone’s leg, performing the passage of the dead towards its new life (a kind of birth) : and for the dancers to grow accustomed to the phantom-presence of the deceased

line : a metonym for the sequence of a production line created in Fordism—a production line in which the same movements are made constantly in order to mass-produce products for mass consumption

love : 0

manual : that which is done by hand and on the spot : often counterposed to automation, though within a production line there may be no difference between them

massage : from Portuguese massa, “dough”

matter : is born, lives, and dies, though we tend to speak of matter as lifeless

movement : a kind of change, usually physical or political

no : not ever

noose : a difficult situation, like a knot (pronounced “not”)

nous : mind, intellect, common sense, practical intelligence (pronounced “noose”)

normativity : also heteronormativity : a deeply violent separation of what is considered a normal and abnormal way of living

pain : hurt

palpable : able to be touched or felt, especially of a feeling or atmosphere : feel, touch gently

passion : from Latin pati, “suffer”

passive : no such thing, even doing nothing is a kind/ness of doing

phantom pain : the possibility of feeling pain in a disconnected (through nerve damage) or amputated part of the body

pinch (to) : remove to encourage bushy growth

plethora : an excessive amount of a bodily fluid, particularly blood

porosity : a kind of accessibility or openness : literally, having pores as minute openings as tiny passages

possession : being controlled by something outside oneself such as a person, text, words, ideas, emotions, people, objects, materials, animals, thoughts, or a multitude of them—a kind of occupation and a historically gendered term

pressure : a feeling of urgency to perform within a certain timespan

problem : a harmful or unwelcome situation, usually one that is difficult to solve

product : may look like a solution but often isn’t

professionalization : why are you here? to question without question? or to refuse not to refuse to become a professional?

purge : to get rid of an unwanted feeling, memory, or condition, in a specifically physical way, often violently so—has a distinct Christian connotation of purity

qi/ki/chi : life force, energy

quantum field theory : radically deconstructs the foundations of classical physics by showing (theoretically) that the parts that make up matter are indeterminate or virtual : when we cannot identify these parts (particles, fields, voids), consequently this means that identity itself cannot be established

queer : strange or odd : the stranger the better—a Dutch expression, hoe vreemder, hoe beter

radical solidarity : inclusive society

refusal : refusing the logic that stages refusal as such is not inactivity

responsibility : response-ability (coined by Karen Barad) : the ability to respond is not an obligation that you choose but rather something we are born with and born into, preceding the intention we call consciousness, and impossible to be solved like a calculable equation

sclerotic : becoming unresponsive, losing the ability to adapt

screen : a screen tends to provide some kind of concealment or protection

self-isolation : a practice of physical distancing

sensory : typically, senses and sensations refer to external stimuli, though throughout the day we feel a great multitude of organs internally, which also provide stimuli : breathing, eating, sweating, salivating, bleeding, etc.

shadow dexterous hand : an anthropocentric robotic hand that reproduces the movement of a hand through a calculated dexterity of twenty movements

sight : you don’t need eyes to see, you need vision

skin : an outer layer, surface, or covering of something; to skin someone is to remove of this surface

social : un/contained within flesh presence

soma : from the Greek soma, “body” and from Latin soma, “sleep” : a muscle relaxant used to treat skeletal muscle conditions such as pain : in the novel Brave New World, soma is a drug that makes people happy and forgetful

solve : to deal with a problem, literally to loosen, dissolve, untie, unfasten

surface (to) : a becoming visible and aware

swipe : an attack or criticism : no coincidence concerning the functions of dating apps

tactile : able to be touched

tele-dildonics : recreating sexual relations over remote control

tele-tactility : also telehaptics : recreating physical sensations over remote control

text : a social space and an occasion to be possessed by others—to be captivated by someone’s words is a form of possession

thinking : has never been a disembodied or uniquely human activity

touch : the basis of touch is in an exchange of energy, a constant repulsion and attraction of parts, and a way to feel a sense of togetherness in the world : to touch and be touched is a kind of nearness, proximity, closeness

tt : therapeutic touch

trans : informal descriptor for someone who is transgender—can indicate both a transition across genders and the transcendence of gender (oppositionality) altogether

university : can produce a notion that outside of the academy and academia study does not exist

us : abbreviation for: unserviceable, useless

viral dissemination : spreading like a virus—an infectious disease that can only multiply within the living cells of a host—and is often used to describe the workings of social media, replacing the actual word of mouth with e-traffic and other bodily fluids

void (the) : living, breathing indeterminacy of non/being

we : used condescendingly to refer to the person being addressed : how are we doing today?

yeastiness : over-fermentation, yeasty consciousness—a disruptive consciousness through (altering) microbial life

yes : encouraging someone to keep on speaking

you : s/he, they

zombie : someone responsive to their environment without experiencing this consciously

—Charlotte Rooijackers

Charlotte Rooijackers works as an artist. Through her practice of performative and collaborative writing, she examines vocabularies in different contexts and disciplines, with a focus on their common under/ground.

Jort van der Laan works as an artist-curator. His research focuses on the recruitment of immunity into the human body. He has been involved with Studium Generale Rietveld Academie since 2011.

Studium Generale Rietveld Academie is an extensive transdisciplinary theory program that addresses students and faculty at all departments of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. It regularly opens up to broader audiences. Studium Generale wants to show how art and design are linked with other domains (from the personal to the political, from the vernacular to the academic), how our “now” is linked with past and future, our “here” with “elsewhere.” Jorinde Seijdel has served as its program head since 2015.

 

Preview image: Mikk Jõgi, Zuzana Kostelanská, Laslo Strong, Hold Me Now — Feel and Touch in an Unreal World, 2018. For Studium Generale Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam.

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