Trail of Touch

naroa perez

2017 - Ongoing

Touch is a skin language, there’s no need to learn but training is required. The sense of touch is the mute language of mutual support. Creates emotional solidarity networks. Makes us feel part of something bigger. It builds community: emotional and empathic individuals. The tactile nostalgia is the continuous need of touch. The sense of touch strengthened our immune system and our interpersonal relations. Is both social and personal biological need.

Photography relies on sight. Touch is the confirmation of what our eyes receive.

The photographic liquid emulsion allows me to coat a wide range of materials. Creating tactile photographic pieces. I coat wood, backlight/thin paper, plaster, concrete, sandstone, cork, porcelain. Natural fibre-based and porous materials mirrowing their surface with the skin.

Materials need to be resistant to deal with chemistry. Fragility and resistance are concepts to balance and confront the sense of sight and the sense of touch. They look fragile but in the structure are very resistant.

-Trail of Touch- is a photographic artwork that started in 2017. Unites academic and practical photographic research on tactile nostalgia. Mistake, chance, and repetition are procedure concepts.

-Trail of Touch- claims and legitimates the sense of touch as the most important sense. It develops first and the most primitive.

The skin has memory and is usually related to pain and not positive experiences. It remembers pain but is forgetful with pleasure. That’s why skin looks for skin.

Memory and nostalgia are concepts related to photography as a medium. Documents our emotional history and identity. Photography has inherited restrictive rules and procedures. Looking for perfection in only one way. I decided to introduce the mistake as a positive aspect of the process. Triggering it with chance and repetition.

Error is part of the growth process and our freedom. The human error is what differentiates us from the machines. The debate of photography as an art discipline resides on its mechanic reproduction. But human production/repetition is not possible. Each print is different. Mistake/human error creates a unique piece. But the original doesn’t exist.

-Trail of Touch project- locates in the darkroom. The imaginary is haptic. Contrasting the senses of touch and sight. Cacti is beautiful to see but impossible to touch.

The photographic liquid emulsion is an old photographic technique. It allows me to create tactile photographic objects. Fibre-based materials are easier to work with because they receive the emulsion naturally. Also, materials need to be resistant to deal with chemistry. Fragility and resistance are the two concepts that I use to balance the sense of sight and the sense of touch.

The material becomes light-sensitive after coating it with the emulsion. It needs to dry in total darkness. Now we can put it underneath the enlarger and make the first test to figure out the correct exposure time. The next step is to submerge the material in the chemistry. Developer, stop, fix and washing liquids.

Many factors could bring different outcomes. The way of coating, the developer, the type of water, the temperature, and also the type of emulsion. A lot of uncertainty and many mistakes.

The materials I worked with were organdie cotton fabric. I made large liquid emulsion prints on fabric curtains. I also used Japanese and Indian papers. Light back papers. I did some tests on cork wood veneer.

When I exhibited the work, nobody touched the artwork. I wanted people to touch and feel the pieces. I needed to find a solution, so I created a book where I could collect all the textures and materials.

It is a limited edition of 22 handmade books. Assembling different types of paper, fabric (organdie), cork, wood veneer, and bioplastic.

All the prints were processed in the darkroom with the liquid emulsion technique. The 22 books have the same structure but each one unique.

The book has been well received by private and public collections; the book is already in 1. V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum) library art book collection, London. 2. Gabriela Cendoya Bergareche photobook art collection, San Telmo Museum, San Sebastian EH 3. London College of Communication University, UAL, library artbook.collection. London. 4. Baylor University, art book library, Waco, Texas, USA. 5. Weston Library, rare book collection. Oxford University.

The touch is the mute gesture able to send support and empathy with the clear function to say - “I’m here if you need me”-. Touch can talk without words. It is capable of showing support without saying anything.

Trail of Touch is a working progress project. The research is still ongoing. There is more bibliography that I would like to add and some tests and practice that are already planned.

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