[Hammons Photo 2]
Fig. 5.2: Documentation of David Hammons’ Concerto in Black and Blue, 2003. (Artspace)

We can locate hapticity in practice in David Hammon’s Concerto in Black and Blue, an exhibition that broke all convention when it was opened to the public in 2002. Rather than his signature large scale scultpures, drawings and conceptual paintings, where language and visual form collide into clever critiques of depictions of blackness, Concerto featured an empty, dark gallery. There were no physical works; this was an “exhibition as composition, to be performed, experienced, with nothing left at the end but a memory.”38 Upon entering, each visitor was given a blue LED light that they attached to their body. Upon “plung[ing] into dark, empty rooms,”39 visitors became both spectators and light sources, relying on the presence others and relied upon by others in order to articulate the space they occupied. This was an invitation towards hapticity: even without touch, attendees had to enter a contract of seeing with and through others; of both participating with and using others as haptic, roving tools towards identifying a space and its contents.

If we imagine the darkened gallery as the hull of a ship, how does Hammon’s intervention into darkness, and consequently, into the politics of light, produce an imagining of liberated collecitivity? In a stunning transformation of “darkness into a kind of permeable solid,”40 Hammons forces viewers to “sense and be sensed in that space of no space [...] feel[ing] (for) each other.”41