The Best Facial Clinic
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been adapting as fugitives of this catastrophic error of mutational glitch, while being rendered into the slippery shared virtual spaces in lieu of being exposed to touch. Our increasing dependence on online interaction and video conferencing during the pandemic is not only facilitating social connectedness but also contemplating the question: How to activate and echo the embodied experience of touching through the incorporeal virtual connectivity? This essay focuses on the embodied nature of tele-synaesthesia performance, its potential effect of forging a rhythmic connection between one sensuous modality to another, and the concurrent emergences of glitch and internet latency as non-verbal cues of internet-situated communication. In reference to Laura Mark’s theory of haptic visuality, where vision triggers a tactile experience in the body; Naomi Bennett’s concept of virtual touch, in which an affective sensory response of touch can be elicited through non-tactile senses, and Paul Sermon’s artistic production of Telematic Quarantine and Pandemic Encounter (2020), that telepresents the stories of self (isolation), I examine two performance works I have been developing during lockdown: Trope of Death, Ghost in the Mirror, I’m the voyeur shedding tears in the mirror (2020), an internet-situated performance using telepresence to create multiple layers of the isolated self, and The Best Facial Clinic (2021), 20 sessions of 45-minute 1-to-1 participatory tele-synaesthesia performances that take place on Zoom, where I become a virtual aesthetician and use telepresence to make tele-contact improvisation inside of the participant’s face to trigger tactile experiences through haptic visuality and auditory fantasization.
Telematic performance, Virtual Touching, Fiction-as-method, Becoming, Tele-synaesthesia performances, Glitch, Contact Improvisation, Isolation, Self, Subjectivity, Haptic visuality
ART - TERRITORY
Ada Xiaoyu Hao is a performance artist and researcher, born in China and based in London. Currently Ada is finishing a practice-based Ph.D. in Doctoral School of Art & Communication, at University of Brighton(UOB). This presentation of 'The Best Facial Clinic' is a tele-synaesthesia performance project made during the pandemic, with support from Centre for Digital Media Cultures Research (CDMC) and School of Art Postgraduate Research at UOB.