We have long known that knowledge depends on the senses. And, as the scientist Antonio Damásio has shown, it is now also known that emotions are indispensable for the process of decision making.
Despite this, nowadays we are experiencing a global fascination with digital. Digital interposes between our perception and reality, replacing direct contact with the world. What kind of experience are we going to have if, along with this digital distance, we also reject direct body contact, replacing it with an aseptic, risk-free kind of life? These are some of the questions raised by the exhibition by Inês Norton, Please [do not] touch, which retakes, at the MNAC, her researched about the contemporary tension between the concepts of natural and synthetic.
The world ‘within touching distance’ or ‘the world at your fingertips’ are phrases that in this exhibition, with palpable objects and an interdict of playing (even if the visitor is asked to touch some of the artworks), gain an ironic sense. As the museum is a space in which touch is generally interdicted, Please [do not] touch assumes a clear irony. Privileging the approach and the audio-visual contact, our society tends to see direct experience as unnecessary and obsolete. By demeaning our innate capacity for contact, this recent approach poses numerous problems. It is urgent to recognize the importance of physical presence and of touch in the interpersonal relationship. Emphasizing the omnipresence of artificiality and the need to question it, Inês Norton reminds us, in the 18 new artworks of this exhibition, of the urgency of regaining full consciousness of our body. At the cost of surely losing touch with the essence of what it means to be human.
Adelaide Ginga e Emília Ferreira