The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive


The Hapticmath program was written at WVU for a Phantom2 haptic stylus;
move the stylus, and the cursor can 'feel' the graph of a mathematical
expression as a groove, which is also visible on a screen. In the
following series of images, the program is demonstrated and applied to
equations with anomalous curves. The sin(x) - a sinewave - maps simply, as
does tan(x) - the tangent curve. But the latter goes asymptotically to +
and - infinity, and the stylus can't connect at the juncture. This is a
well-defined vertical line. Of greater interest is sin(tan(x)), which has
an anomalous region; most of the images are of that. The expression was
biased to fill the screen, i.e. 3*(sin(tan(1.5*(x+3)))). While dashes are
visible, nothing connects with the stylus, which tends to disappear,
become absorbed in the region. The visible haptic anomalous region, in
other words, becomes a paradoxically indeterminate haptic surface with an
invisible cursor. Metaphorically, touch has been compromised and absorbed
in a virtual space barely hinted at. As with my other work, this indicates
an informal limit where other phenomena appear, and the usual extensions
of the body, as well as body image, cannot be taken for granted.

(Thanks to Frances van Scoy and the West Virginia VEL for use of the

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