Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Felt Art

Still thinking about Ludwig von Beethoven and the nature of art. Here was an artist who lost his ability to perceive his own art form and all those connected with hearing -- music and the spoken word. But, there were others art forms still open to him. There are many, many visual media -- painting, sculpture, dance, fashion, printed poetry... Taste has it's own form of artistry in cooking. Smell has a small group of artists, perfumers. These are people who have highly trained senses of smell and guard the recipes for their fragrances jealously.

But there seems to be one sense left out. Is there no art form that plays purely and primarily upon touch? Sure, we talk about texture of clothing and of food, but they are not primarily tactile-based artistic experiences. What might such an art form be like?

The only thing that comes to my mind is amusement park rides. These are machines that are designed to make us feel certain ways. Roller coasters, for example, are much like narrative art forms such as film, opera, or literature in that there is a beginning leading to a moment of tension, then a climax and resolution. Someone who was deaf and blind could still very much appreciate the experience of a roller coaster and the way its design makes a rider feel. But this may be a different sense of the word "feel." Is it? Either way, what might a felt art be?