Hand Perception in Late Twentieth Century Women's Experimental Poetics
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"Hand Perception in Late Twentieth Century Women's Experimental Poetics" examines the aesthetics, ethics, and politics of what I call "hand perception" in late twentieth century women's experimental art, specifically in the work of Cecilia Vicuña, Tatana Kellner, and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. In counterpoint to optical constructions of artworks, in which the reader and the text inhabit a space premised upon the optics of a disembodied eye, hand perception emphasizes the "hand" as a critical presence involved in the re-conceptualization of textual production and reception. Within the context of late twentieth century experimental art, theoretical readings often overlook the tactile, sensory component of the reader's relation to the text, despite the fact that touch and "hand" are often foregrounded as a crucial aspect of poetic works. By theorizing womens' experimental works in the context of philosophers of touch, such as Luce Irigaray and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, "Hand Perception" addresses the lack of scholarship on this critical issue in late twentieth century and contemporary poetry. The various art forms included in this project reveal a touching vision that appeals to the reader's tactile senses through an awareness of the sensory perception of the hand both in the composition and interpretation of artworks. By bringing the text and the reader into tactile proximity, hand perception, I argue, shifts interpretation from the ocularcentric paradigm to a tactile, sensory informed understanding of artistic practice and vision itself.