We do not have 5 senses. As psychologist J.J. Gibson argued, we have outward-orientated (exteroceptive) senses and inward-orientated (interoceptive) senses. Proprioception is our awareness of our body’s position in space, and the vestibular sense is concerned with balance. Kinaesthesia is the sense of movement through space.

These bodily (somatic) senses inform our perception of ‘inside’ and ‘outside,’ of inner and outer space. Rather than discrete and separate, these senses act in concert to help give us our embodied perceptions of space. Touch is not only of the skin surface, but also involves the tactile-muscular and tactile-kinaesthetic senses, and these are inherently spatial.

The notion of ‘haptic space’ is not based purely on touch alone, nor on the duality between toucher and touched. It is “an orientation to sensuality as such that includes all senses” (Iris Marion Young).

Mark Paterson
Haptic Spaces

To further explore the implications of haptic space and Aboriginal art, see the posting on Slow Muse entitled Ocularcentrism.