Lost in a Familiar Space

By Daniela De Paz

This week, I decided to try and walk around my apartment with my eyes closed and rely on my sense of touch to get around and identify objects that were within reaching grasp. I wanted to see if I could pay attention to the details and not succumb to the “descriptive casualness” as stated in the reading. I started at the far end of my room and I had not even taken 3 steps when my foot banged against my rolling chair, prompting me to loudly curse and stumble around with a messed up big toe. I decided to explore my desk, laying my hands down on the surface and feeling the wood underneath, along with a couple of crumbs from the granola bar I had for breakfast. I then moved my hands slowly up to my makeup brushes which were resting in a cup and tried to distinguish the brushes from each other. As someone who has used this set of brushes since high school you would think I’d be able to identify them easily, but I was dead wrong. All of the brushes have a solid handle and a silver handle at the top to hold the actual brush together, with 3 ridges in the silver part. It was only when I brushed the head of the brushes that I could somewhat identify which brush it was: blending brush, packing a brush, smudge brush, etc. My bigger brushes were a little harder to identify at first, but I just kept brushing the head and feeling how heavy it was to make an estimate as to which one I was holding. After my brush exploration, I tried to walk out of the bedroom but again bumped into an item on the floor, nearly making me trip this time. Knowing it was a shoe, I crouched down to identify which one it was. Brushing around the top of the shoe and feeling its texture helped me identify it relatively fast: the Birkenstocks that I used to walk around the house for the past day, as I couldn’t find my regular flip flops I would wear.

I was now in the living/dining room, and I decided to try and walk to the table, where I knew a whole bunch of crap was, courtesy of my roommates and I’s tendencies to leave papers and documents strewn about. I bumped into one of the dining room chairs and was a little shocked by the coldness of the chair from the metal back it had, but I proceeded to sit down, feeling the woven seat of the chair. I then started splaying my fingers about, trying to find something to identify. I came across an object that I didn’t know immediately. It felt heavy to me, so I felt its surface, finding it was a soft texture and it could open. Opening it, I touched the surface which turned out to be a smooth screen, and only then did I realize I was touching one of my roommates’ iPads, immediately putting it back down and closing it in case he got mad that I
touched his belongings. I continued feeling around the table, coming across a plastic cup. We all have plastic cups, but I had to again use my sense of touch and my memory this time to associate the cup with another of my roommates, as her cups are unusually tall and have little dips in them. I felt the top of the table to see what else I could find, feeling the cold marble top and various crumbs, as well as papers and documents that I had no way of identifying since there were no discernible features among them. I then came across a small box and decided to pick it up,
weigh it, and figure out what was inside. I opened the top and I felt playing cards inside, but it seemed all of them were inside, something unusual. I tried to find out more about the box, but it was smooth to the touch, the same as the playing cards. I decided that my roommates had either packed up a game they had played or it was a new game that one of them had bought. Since I decided to do my research as if I was visually impaired, I definitely had to rely on my sense of touch to help me identify what I was interacting within my space. The reading mentions how touch can be informational but also intrusive; my fiddling with my roommate’s
iPad was definitely intrusive, as I could have unlocked it if it didn’t have a passcode or dropped it on accident. This also made me think about the digitization that museums are participating in because although I could identify the iPad once I explored it, the same cannot be said if I tried to buy one online and I wanted to know the weight, texture, etc. of it. Me touching a multitude of objects reinstated the touch/object relationship described in the readings and gave me a better sense of how to attempt to identify objects if I didn’t have a sight for example and how to connect
with these objects and figure out their meaning by interacting with them in a new way.