Saving Face: Shared experience and dialogue on social touch, in playful smart public space

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Can shared experience and dialogue on social touch be orchestrated in playful smart public spaces? In smart city public spaces, in which physical and virtual realities are currently merging, new forms of social connections, interfaces and experiences are be- ing explored. Within art practice, such new connections include new forms of affective social communication with additional social and sensorial connections to enable and enhance empathic, intimate experience in playful smart public space.
This chapter explores a novel design for shared intimate experience of playful social touch in three orchestrations of ‘Saving Face’, in different cultural and geographical environments of smart city (semi-) public spaces, in Beijing, Utrecht, Dessau-Berlin. These orchestrations are purposefully designed to create a radically unfamiliar sensory synthesis to disrupt the perception of ‘who sees and who is being seen, who touches and who is being touched’. Participants playfully ‘touch themselves and feel being touched, to connect with others on a screen’. All three orchestrations show that shared experience and dialogue on social touch can be mediated by playful smart cities tech- nologies in public spaces, but rely on design of mediated, intimate and exposed forms of ‘self-touch for social touch’, ambivalent relations, exposure of dialogue and hosting.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMaking smart cities more playable.
EditorsAnton Nijholt
Place of PublicationSingapore
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-13-9765-3
ISBN (Print)978-981-13-9764-6
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Social engagement
  • digital art
  • city smart spaces
  • intimacy
  • exposure
  • playful social touch

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