I am part of the networks and the networks are part of me…
I link, therefore I am.’ W. J. Mitchell, ME++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City.

Can I touch you online? Can we measure intimacy?
Artist duo and researchers Karen Lancel and Hermen Maat explore the tension between embodied presence, intimacy, privacy and trust in current social-technological systems. They radically turn upside down automated control technologies, bio-feedback and sensory perception, to create ‘Trust-Systems’ for intimate meeting experiences. The artists start from the idea that experiences of intimacy and trust are embedded in public dialogue, witnessing and narrative. Therefor, their visually seductive Meeting Places, or social sculptures, function as ‘artistic social labs’ in public space; with the public as ‘co-researchers’. During carefully hosted Presence Rituals, they invite the public to meet through socially challenging, imaginative technologies in poetic orchestrations; and in this way to reflect on their perception of intimate body experience, privacy, identity, social cohesion. In performances and installations public dialogue and interaction is real time scanned, traced and visualized in Social Portraits; on (urban) screens, in digi-prints and networked databases. It is shown together with related artistic research in drawings; video’s; smart objects, artist’s books.

Their work is presented internationally in public spaces such as square, museum, university, gallery, theatre; at among others Venice Biennale 2015, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, Ars Electronica Linz, ZKM Karslruhe, Transmediale Berlin, Eyebeam New York, TASIE Millenium Museum Beijing, BCAF Beijing Culture and Art Center & Foundation, IASPIS Stockholm, ISEA 04 Helsinki, V2_Institute Rotterdam, Banff Center Canada, ISEA 2012 Istanbul, Artforum Berlin, Sensuous Museum Frankfurt, De Appel Amsterdam, BEALL Center California, ISEA 2016 Hong Kong, Public Art Lab Berlin/Connecting Cities Network. Their artworks emerge from research conducted in the context of Lancel’s PhD trajectory at Delft University of Technology.

Artist website

Selected projects


Can I kiss you online? How does your kiss feel in E.E.G. data? Can we transfer a kiss and it’s intimacy online? Can we measure a kiss and what kissers feel together? Do we want to save our private kisses in a transparent database – to be used by others? In their ongoing and internationally presented research E.E.G. KISS, the artists investigate how a kiss can be translated into bio-feedback data. They deconstruct the kiss, to reconstruct a new, digital synesthetic kissing ritual for a Global Kiss-In, in which all participants – both kissers and spectators – feel, see, hear, touch and experience a communal kiss. The artists: “Tele-presence technologies extend our bodies beyond biological boundaries in time and space, but they prevent us from touching. In a poetic, electric environment for kissing and measuring, for synchronizing and merging, we research a shared neuro-feedback system for networked kissing.” Read more on the project website


How do we trust each other online?
Do you need to see my eyes? Or do we need to touch?

The artists: “When we meet in the public domain, we trust each other based on reciprocal body language, face-to-face connection, and touch. However, in today’s social structures, these sensory experiences are increasingly replaced by identity scanning technologies, such as surveillance, bio print, eye scanning, behavior- and face-recognition technology. In the digital public domain, we are faced with the paradox of ‘the higher surveillance, the lower trust’. How do we experience our bodies and identities, technically being measured and turned into fixated, controllable ‘products’? How does this interfere with our identities as social constructs, constantly appearing and disappearing when interacting with others? Can touch based perception play a role in ‘tele-matic trust’? Can I touch you online?” Saving Face was selected for the 56th Venice Biennale. Read more on the project website.


Tele_Trust is a performance-installation for an intimate networking body experience. On dynamic city public spaces (train station, museum, festival) the audience members meet in a wearable DataVeil. The Dataveil is a tangible body interface functioning as a second skin and membrane, for ‘scanning online trust’. Individual audience members are invited to wear a full body covering DataVeil. The veil’s design is based on a monk’s habit, Dark Vader, a burqua and a business suit; it is Gender neutral and One size fits all. Through flexible touch sensors woven into it’s smart fabric, the wearer’s body is transformed into an intuitive, tangible interface allowing to connect with other people’s smartphones. By touching his or her DataVeiled body the wearer connects with other people’s smartphones. Tele_Trust creates a new embodied synthesis, for a reflective networked social encounter. Read more on the project website.

Available works

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