In High Fives-Apple Fingerworks Multitouch Patents Sheet by Kari Altmann (a part of Altmann’s on-going No Glove, No Love meme), one views a series of smeared, blood-colored handprints slapped to the surface of black & white printouts of x-y graphs.
Each of these x-y graphs contain a representation of seemingly arbitrary numbers and undecipherable technical language around a set of black streaks.
The direct indexical imprint of the biological body over an array of technical data creates a collision; each instance of the series suggests either a paint-crazy toddler run amok with their older sibling’s physics homework or a 1980s corporate-office slasher film in which the maniac killer slices up a victim at the copy machine.
The title of the work–High Fives-Apple Fingerworks Multitouch Patents Sheet—points out for the viewer where to go.
Each of the diagrams over which the artist places her blood-colored handprint is, it turns out, the schematic diagram of a touchscreen computer technology (a touchscreen computer technology being, for example, the touch responsive interface of the Apple iPhone).
With this information in mind, one can, then, read the “black streaks” described above as the representations of handprints which are labeled with accompanying data.
What one views here, then, is not a collision between Altmann’s blood-red handprint over any old data, but rather over virtual data representing the human hand.
It’s a “high five”—the physical trace of the artist’s handprint colliding with the copied and quantified representation of an anonymous user’s own handprint.
What’s important to reiterate here is that the immediate impression of each of the iconographic elements colliding in the space of the image doesn’t favor either the technical representation of the handprint in the background or the messy, bodily handprint in the foreground; rather each are roughly equivalent in graphic power.
This equivalency is meaningful when one considers that as touchscreen technologies become increasingly mobile and responsive to the physics and ergonomic constraints of the human body in the physical world, they simultaneously become increasingly influential in directing the control of the human body towards the ubiquitous usage of these very technologies.
It’s great that the interface of the iPhone opens up possibilities for greater bodily freedom in the use of computer technologies, but is it great that this interface also nudges human beings to spend all of their downtime hunched over, tapping and rubbing away on a little computer?
Regarding this point, Altmann writes:
In High Fives the idea is to use red finger paint to represent fake blood, and provide a handprint on this map of flesh and touch interaction being controlled by the interface. Resembling the handprints some of the earliest cave dwellers left as a mark of their civilization, this handprint in blood is a way of leaving a mark on the infrastructure being created by these systems of power and product–the virtual “cave” that technology often expects us to live in more and more, filtered from direct experience. It’s also a way of meeting every interface confrontation with an unexpected and human reaction.
Altmann’s handprint, then, is a sign of the human body confronting the technology which influences its control—yes–but, through her choice of blood-red for the color of the handprints, it becomes something more intense, as well—a sign of aggressively confronting the technology which influences its control.