press release

Detouched isn't a word. As a word that isn't a word, it exists somewhere between retouched and detached. It's also fairly close to untouched, which means that it has a lot to do with touch. It might be best understood as describing a detached sense of touch, or an act of touching that doesn't involve an act of touching, however paradoxical that may sound.

Most mornings, for example, I drink a cup of coffee and touch The New York Times. I don't hold it in my hands, but I pinch and drag it with my fingers. I don't read it as much as I skim through it, and this involves a fair amount of touching. It's an interactive, tactile, and rather comfortable experience. But no ink rubs off on my fingers, because I'm not actually touching The New York Times. I'm touching The New York Times without touching The New York Times. So perhaps it's best to say that most mornings, over coffee, I almost touch The New York Times.

Part of what's impressive about the Internet is that it's infinite, immaterial, and uncontainable—it's untouchable—but I still touch it many times a day. I'm touching information that exists in the cloud—a cloud that isn't actually a cloud—and the entire world, as the saying goes, is at my fingertips. After a century of technology dedicated to inventing tools that replace manual labour, we find ourselves brought back to the hand—the first, oldest, and most basic human tool. It makes sense: the digit and the digital make a natural pair.

But today, to touch doesn't mean the same thing it used to. Touching an object no longer requires being next to it, but involves being far away from it. By merging the hand with the machine, contemporary technology generates a detached sense of proximity, or a sense of detouch—it not only incorporates but also negates, prevents, and replaces one sense of touch with another. Detouched is about the distance of touch.

Guest curated by Anthony Huberman (US/CH).

A.K. Burns, Alice Channer, Sunah Choi, Dennis Oppenheim, Seth Price
Kurator: Anthony Huberman