Home / Events / Touching Data: Palpability, Ethics, and Embodied Agency in Devices and Archives
NEXT EVENT: Thursday February 28 2019
3 p.m.-4 p.m.

Touching Data: Palpability, Ethics, and Embodied Agency in Devices and Archives


Jessica Rajko's current research aims to make data palpable, tangible, and tactile by integrating somatically informed dance practices with interface design. It is from this perspective that she considers, “How do we ethically invite conscious, mediated touch across media, data, and bodies?” Touch design, and particularly haptics is a rapidly growing research field. Many designers within this area develop tactile experiences in and through the hands and aim to recreate real-world experiences such as walking on gravel or touching textured surfaces.

This design work often engages touch as a singular sensory experience; however, our experience of touch is entangled with:

1. sociocultural expectations around touch
2. our perception of emotions and feelings
3. distribution of touch across our body (both cutaneous and kinesthetic)
4. our other senses

In this presentation, Rajko will share her current research implementing somatic approaches to data haptification and context-specific haptic interface design. Her work moves away from an empirical need to categorize touch aesthetics and aims instead to provide experiential frameworks for describing one’s own felt experience. To anchor the work, she will share two transdisciplinary projects. First is “Vibrant Lives,” a performance/installation that gives audiences a real-time experience of their mobile device’s data output. The second, “Me, My Quantified Self, and I” is a dance theatre performance developed in collaboration with AME faculty Lauren Hayes in which human quantification is explored through live dance performance, digital music and data haptification.


Jessica Rajko is an interdisciplinary artist exploring the liminal space between somatically informed dance and interaction design. As an assistant professor at Arizona State University, her current work investigates the ethical and corporeal implications of digital technologies and contemporary quantification practices. Rajko has presented and performed in various collaborative artworks nationally and internationally, including Amsterdam’s OT301, Toronto’s Scotiabank Nuit Blanche festival and New York City’s Gotham Festival at The Joyce Theatre.  She was named one of Phoenix New Times’s “100 Creatives of 2016” and has been commissioned by the Currents New Media Festival, Breaking Ground Dance Festival, Mesa Arts Center, Heard Museum and Phoenix Art Museum.

Rajko is the mentor for the dance MFA concentration in Interdisciplinary Digital Media and Performance. She is the co-founder and co-director of urbanSTEW, a non-profit arts collective that creates participatory, art/tech installations to engage local communities in multisensory, felt experiences. Jessica received her MFA in Dance and Interdisciplinary Digital Media at Arizona State University in 2009 (outstanding graduate of the year) and her BA in Dance and Psychology at Hope College in 2005.

Image credit: Karina Niño de Rivera

For more information please contact:
Andrew Luna
School of Arts, Media and Engineering
Stauffer B-Wing Room B125