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Davin Heckman
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“To Touch,” by Serge Bouchardon, Kevin Carpentiere, and Stéphanie Spenlé, is a Flash-based work which, as its title suggests, emphasizes physical interaction with the work as an opportunity to experience a literary text.  The work opens with the image of a hand, which users can touch with their mouse pointer to open up the various subsections of the text, one for each finger (plus a “bonus” section hidden within the page).  Readers are invited to “caress,” “blow,” “move,” “hit,” “spread,” and “brush” the work, making use of the reader’s microphone, camera, speakers, and mouse to explore the various subsections, each of which could be considered as a standalone piece.  While the work contains elements recognizable as literary in the textual sense—after playing with each section, a brief, but reflective passage is revealed—the emphasis is placed on interacting with the text through touch as a means of encountering the literary qualities of the work.  The piece is notable for the ways that it signifies touch, and thus poses a fascinating question for critics of electronic literature: When a physical act like “touching” is transformed into representation via an interface, in what ways might this parallel the semiotic act of representation that we associate with literary works?  Bouchardon, Carpentiere, and Spenlé's work seems to suggest that though we cannot physically “touch” the hand on the screen, we can explore many dimensions of this experience through a broad range of embodied metaphors.