Sensory augmentation and the tactile sublime

Debates in Aesthetics 15 (1):11-33 (2020)
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Abstract
This paper responds to recent developments in the field of sensory augmentation by analysing several technological devices that augment the sensory apparatus using the tactile sense. First, I will define the term sensory augmentation, as the use of technological modification to enhance the sensory apparatus, and elaborate on the preconditions for successful tactile sensory augmentation. These are the adaptability of the brain to unfamiliar sensory input and the specific qualities of the skin lending themselves to be used for the perception of additional sensory information. Two devices, Moon Ribas’ Seismic Sense and David Eagleman’s vest, will then be discussed as potential facilitators of aesthetic experiences in virtue of the tactile sensory augmentation that these devices allow. I will connect the experiences afforded by these devices to the Kantian categories of the mathematical and the dynamical sublime, and to existing accounts of tactile sublimity. Essentially, the objects these devices make sensible, earthquakes for the Seismic Sense and digital information for the vest, produce pleasurable feelings of potential danger, awe, and respect. The subsequent acclimation to this new way of sensing and the aim to comprehend its sensed object are then discussed as possible objections to the interpretation of these experiences as sublime, and as aesthetic in general. To exemplify these issues and concretise my thesis of tactile sensory augmentation as a trigger of the sublime, I will outline an experiment to use the vest as an aid for faster decision making on the stock market.
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Archival date: 2020-05-26
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2020-05-26

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