Haptic Perception Meets Interface Aesthetics: Cultural Representations of Touchscreen Technology in the Aftermath of the iPhone 2007

Katheryn Wright

Associate Professor, Core Division, Champlain College, USA

ORCID: Email:

Volume IX, Number 3, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n3.02

Received August 10, 2017; Revised September 12, 2017; Accepted September 15, 2017; Published September 20,  2017.


The touchscreen is something other than a boundary between real and illusory worlds, or what Anne Friedberg (2009) calls a “virtual window” (p. 96). The aesthetics of that ‘something else’ is not determined by the technology itself, but by its use in a myriad of cultural practices including how it is represented as a commodity and an experience. This article examines the representation of touchscreen technology following the release of the iPhone in 2007, comparing a Nine Inch Nails rock concert and Blackberry commercial from 2008 with Bjork’s album/app Biophilia and an American Express advertisement from 2011. Comparing these media experiences reveals a representational shift that occurs between the introduction of the touchscreen and the cultural integration of this technology just three years later. A focus on breaking through the frame of the screen shifts into screen interfaces as the building blocks for the virtual construction of “hybrid space” (De Souza e Silva, 2006).

 Keywords: screen, touch, interface, haptic, body