Vol. 14 No. 1 (2021): Aesthetics in Times of Contagion

Rethinking contact: the haptic in the viral era

Valentina Bartalesi
Università IULM, Milano

Published 2021-11-19


  • Haptic Perception,
  • Digital Age,
  • Covid-19,
  • Sensory Studies,
  • Iconography

How to Cite

Bartalesi, V. (2021). Rethinking contact: the haptic in the viral era . Aisthesis. Pratiche, Linguaggi E Saperi dell’estetico, 14(1), 23–36. https://doi.org/10.36253/Aisthesis-12481


The current pandemic emergency due to Covid-19 has profoundly changed our sensory habits. What role can be assigned to a synaesthetic perceptive modality like the haptic in this no touching pandemic period (Žižek 2020)? This paper argues that the haptic specificity could go beyond the dialectic between touch and vision to focus on its phantasmagorical potentiality. In an attempt to grasp the relevance of this perceptive modality in the pandemic and post-pandemic scenario, this contribution will proceed in two directions. First, starting from an etymological premise and an iconographic excursus, it will highlight the motility and the potential in absentia as the proprium of haptic perception. Secondly, we will hypothesize the configuration of a synaesthetic and intermedial “haptic feeling” shaped by the accumulation of images of everyday pandemic life — phantasmata, eidolons and pictures — can disclose an infra-subtle space, substantially affective, which precedes and exceeds the contact itself. 


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