Atanas Totlyakov
description of the project

The sense of feeling is a sensory perception in humans and includes a sense of touch and pressure (tactile sensitivity), hot and cold (thermal reception), pain (nociceptive sensitivity) and others. Tactile perception of objects in the external environment allow the shape, size, surface properties, texture, temperature, dryness and humidity, position and movement in space to be clarified.

(Big Encyclopedic Dictionary
Biology. M., Big Russian Encyclopedia, 1999, p 437.)

Sensory knowledge, as a way of direct relation with the world, plays a central role in the originating of aesthetics. Alexander Baumgarten defines aesthetics as knowledge of sensory cognition. In his article Sensory Cognition Pierre Sovane determines this concept as a reference to a subject capable of accepting sensations delivered by the senses of touch with the outside world and notes the etymology of aesthetics as aisthesis, the idea of primary sensation. He points out that from a philosophical point of view, the entire issue is whether natural sensations are sufficient to reach a form of knowledge, or an “artificial” reflective action, should be considered so that the tangible variety and its possible knowledge could be taken into account. According to empiricism - all (or almost all) knowledge is based on the experience and is proven by it. However, according to rationalism no knowledge is possible if there are no innate, a priori truths. Thus sensory knowledge raises the question of the role and status of the senses in knowledge in general. (Sovane, P. Sensory Knowledge. / / Dictionary of Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art. Riva, 2012, p. 472). Valentin Angelov assumes the pair of concepts “sensuousness and aesthetics” as a symbiosis, setting the foundation of the aesthetic discourse. (Angelov, V. Lexicon in Philosophy of Art. Veliko Tarnovo 2014, p. 284) The boundaries of our bodies determine also our ability to feel tangibly the matter of reality that surrounds us. The skin surface transmitting signals for smooth and rough, hot and cold, danger or proximity is another form of our Ego, our real physical presence in the world, upon which we are usually not focused. Contrary to the distance of the sight distance, skin senses require direct contact, by touch. Our normal movement, as pedestrians, leads to a tremendous amount of information about the ground on which we walk, although we don’t realize the immediate act of walking.
Urban space offers endless variety of tactile surfaces like staircases, as opposed to horizontal terrains, smooth polished marble surfaces in contrast to the rough pavement, hard asphalt, clearly distinguishable from the soft grass, the different inclines of streets and occasional relief obstacles.

The starting point of this project is moving away from the direct tactile experience through the deliberate manipulation of objects and situations.

The idea is through a real impact in the urban environment (performance) a situation to be achieved where every pedestrian becomes audience and co-participant in the act while focusing his/her reception of the tactile signals from the feet.

The aim is a moment of hesitation and doubt to be achieved in favor of rethinking the environment in the aspect of the body contact with matter.

The inclusion of the senses as artistic practice is possible in remodeling of a life situation in a conscious act of perception, distant from the primary apparentness. In other words, not the movement from point “1” to point “2” as direction but the internal experience from the contact with the environment. That concept seeks support in the theory of Phenomenological philosophy.

The French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty in his Phenomenology of Perception develops the concept of physiological body-object as opposed to the term “own body”. To further illustrate the importance of the body in perception, Merleau-Ponty compares tactile and visual experience: ‘Tactile experience, on the other hand, adheres to the surface of our body, we can not unfold it in front of us, and it never becomes the object.’ (Merleau-Ponty, M. Phenomenology of Perceptions, St. Petersburg, Juventa, 1999, p.316)

Each tactile perception, according to Merleau-Ponty, deriving from an objective property includes a body component. The tactile location of the object establishes its place in relation to the points of the body scheme. In this case it is sought the effect on focusing on the border between the synthesis of the object with which we come into contact and the synthesis of the own body.

The tools used are:
1. Object – a plate on a wooden handle with a specific design;
2. Performance - action in an urban environment (walking with the high up raised plate among bystanders);
3. Exhibition presenting the object, documentation of the performance, visual materials of footprints on different surfaces.

Technical description:

Plate 70/100 cm, digital print, canvas, hardboard on a wooden frame, acryl
Wooden handle with ergonomic hand-grips, black acryl.

Bilingual inscription: “EVERY STEP IS A TACTILE EXPERIENCE!”
Relief surface modeling by accumulating acrylic.