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TOUCH: senses to form

Obuchi Lab | The University of Tokyo

Studio research project


Surjyatapa Ray, Boon Hau Lim, Pyaezone Aungsoe

Julie Malloy, 33, from York, Pennsylvania, tells what it’s like to live without the sense of touch:

“I was born with a rare sensory illness that leaves me unable to feel pain, temperature, deep pressure, or vibrations in my arms, legs, and the majority of my chest and back. I use vision to compensate as much as I can—when I stand, I always watch my feet so I don’t lose my balance. I always wash my face with cold water; I once burned myself without realizing it." 

Touch: the most ubiquitous of human senses, yet the most overlooked. Could you imagine losing your sense of touch? How often do we perceive the presence of this sense manifesting in our behavior, and the way we react to things?

This project explores the sense of touch through three mediums: temperature, shape, and texture. Unique reactions to these mediums render in the final form of a lantern. Experiments involving heating a unique shaped object, in this case a tetrahedron, and recording the holding and placing method of participants were recorded and used to create a modular pattern, which gave rise to the final lantern form.

Project Details

The fabrication workflow involved recording the unique placement of tetrahedron units of each participant, and creating a digital twin to analyse stability. The structural analysis was testing using shear strength between two units, attached with magnets. A final array of stable modules were selected and simulated to generate the final lantern form.

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