My thesis project in Transdisciplinary Design is an investigation of the uses and effects of positive touch and the potential of touch as a respectful way to negotiate intimate boundaries. The current form of this project is essentially a "gesture of consent", a sort of secret handshake for initiating further layers of intimacy.
I believe that this gesture could have several potential applications, two of which i would like to explore in the next month:
1) providing college students who have been inundated with multiple standards of what constitutes consent with a simple, non-verbal (and less awkward) way to verify and establish mutual consent.
2) providing victims of sexual assault and physical trauma a meaningful and unambiguous way to explore their boundaries with new or continuing partners, potentially as a therapeutic tool to reclaim a sense of agency in intimate physical encounters.
My research in a design capacity has been to 1) reflect with artistic tools on the bodies of knowledge that exist around equal, reciprocal touch in the fields of psychology, sociology, literature and philosophy, and then to 2) enact those reflections in public, interactive contexts. Previous/ongoing iterations of the research include
1) sculpture (the SECRET HANDSHAKE BOOTH, the HANDSHAKE GLORY HOLE, the HANDSHAKE PEEP SHOW)
2) performance (interviews, hand games, a HANDSHAKE MASTER CLASS) and
3) video (JAZZ HANDS, GIVING CHANGE, GIVING TURNS).