Libby Heaney


touch is response-ability, tuuch os rispunsabilitreaeaeaea (2020) is an Instagram stories based performative animation, where the participants’ touch controls the movement of the frames, a flip book animation for our digital age. The first and last stills in each performance were created by Heaney based on extensive research into representations of the body in machine learning datasets and computer vision and parallel representations of the body in art history, highlighting the biases in which bodies are seen and which are neglected. 

The subsequent frames in the animation were generated by passing the initial frame through a quantum computer, which through entangled pixels, fragments and inverts the image. In every frame the body from the initial image always exists but the quantum computer enables us to see it from alternative, multiple perspectives – boundary-less and form-less. The stills are watched with a computer vision algorithm – Open-Pose – which loses track of the body as it is released from it’s encoded shackles.

The name ‘touch is response-ability’ comes from Barad’s essay ‘On Touching – The inhuman that therefore I am’ where she writes “The infinite touch of nothingness is threaded through all being/becoming, a tangible indeterminacy that goes to the heart of matter.” For Barad this touch comes from quantum field theory where quasi-real/virtual fluctuations of matter exist in the void, insensible, looping around, touching themselves and everything else across time and space. In Entangled pixels following ‘matter on a knife edge of existence, arousing and touching an infinity of others—other beings, other spaces, other times.‘

Commission by Hervisions at LUX