The Manifesto of Tactilism

by F.T. Marinetti
Milan, 11 January 1921.

Read at the Theatre de I'Oeuvre (Paris), the World
Exposition of Modern Art (Geneva), and published
inComoedia in January 1921

Futurism, founded by us in Milan in 1909, gave to the
world a hatred of the Museum, the Academy and
Sentimentalism; it gave the world Action-Art, the
defence of youth against all senility, the
glorification of illogical and mad innovative genius,
the artistic sensibility of mechanisation, of speed,
of the music hall, and of the simultaneous
interpenetration of modern life, words in freedom,
plastic dynamism, noise-intoners, synthetic theatre.
Futurism today redoubles its creative effort.

Last summer, at Antignano, where the street named
after Amerigo Vespucci, discoverer of America,
curvingly coasts along the sea, I invented Tactilism.
Red flags waved from the workshops taken over by the


I was naked in the silky water that was torn by rocks,
foamy scissors knives razors, among the iodine-filled
mattresses of seaweed. I was nude in the sea of
flexible steel, which had a fertile and virile
breathing. I drank from the goblet of the sea filled
to the rim with genius. The sun, with its long
roasting flames, vulcanised my body and bolted the
keel of my forehead rich with sails. A working-class
boy, Who smelled of salt and hot stone, looked,
smiling, at my first tactile board:

"Having fun making little boats?!"

I answered: "Yes, I'm building a craft that will take
the human spirit to unknown waters." Here are my
reflections, the reflections of a swimmer: The
unrefined and elemental majority of men came out of
the Great War concerned only to conquer a greater
material well-being. The minority, composed of artists
and thinkers, sensitive and refined, instead displays
the symptoms of a deep and mysterious ill that is
probably a consequence of the great tragic exertion
that the war imposed on humanity.

This illness displays, as symptoms, a sad
listlessness, an excessively feminine neurasthenia, a
hopeless pessimism, a feverish indecision of lost
instincts, and an absolute lack of will.

The rough and elemental majority of men tumultuously
hurls toward the revolutionary conquest of the
Communist paradise and definitively storms the problem
of happiness, convinced that it has solved it by
satisfying all material needs and appetites.

The intellectual minority ironically scorns this
breathless attempt, and no longer enjoying the ancient
pleasures of Religion, of Art, of Love, which
previously constituted its privilege and its shelter,
brings life, which it no longer knows how to enjoy, to
a cruel trial, and abandons itself to refined
pessimism, sexual inversions, and to the artificial
paradises of cocaine, opium, ether, etc. That majority
and this minority both denounce Progress,
Civilisation, the mechanical powers of Speed, of
Comfort, of Hygiene, Futurism in short, as being
responsible for their past, present, and future

Almost everyone proposes a return to a savage life,
contemplative, slow, solitary, far from the hated

As for us Futurists, we who bravely face the agonising
drama of the post-war period, we are in favour of all
the revolutionary attacks that the majority will
attempt. But, to the minority of artists and thinkers,
we yell at the top of our lungs: Life is always right!
The artificial paradises with which you attempt to
murder her are useless. Stop dreaming of an absurd
return to the savage life. Beware of condemning the
superior powers of society and the marvels of speed.
Heal, rather, the illness of the post-war period,
giving humanity new and nutritious joys. Instead of
destroying human throngs, it is necessary to perfect
them. Intensify the communication and the fusion of
human beings. Destroy the distances and the barriers
that separate them in love and friendship. Give
fullness and total beauty to these two essential
manifestations of life: Love and Friendship.

In my careful and anti-traditional observations of all
the erotic and sentimental phenomena that unite both
sexes, and of the no-less-complex phenomena of
friendship, I have understood that human beings speak
to each other with their mouths and with their eyes,
but do not manage a true sincerity because of the lack
of sensitivity of the skin, which is still a mediocre
conductor of thought.

While eyes and voices communicate their essences, the
senses of touch of two individuals communicate almost
nothing in their clashes, intertwining, or rubbing.
Thus, the need to transform the handshake, the kiss,
and the coupling into continuous transmissions of

I started by submitting my sense of touch to an
intensive treatment, pinpointing the confused
phenomena of will and thought on various points on my
body, and especially on the palms of my hands. This
training is slow but easy, and all healthy bodies can,
through this training, give surprising and exact

On the other hand, unhealthy sensibilities, which draw
their excitability and their apparent perfection from
the very weakness of the body, will achieve great
tactile power less easily, without duration or
confidence. I have created a first educational scale
of touch, which is, at the same time, a scale of
tactile values for Tactilism, or the Art of Touch.

First scale, level, with four different categories of

First category: extremely confident touch, abstract,
Silver-coated paper.

Second category: touch without heat, persuasive,
Smooth silk,
Silk crepe.

Third category: exciting, lukewarm, nostalgic.
Wool from the Pyrenees,
Silk-wool crepe.

Fourth category: almost irritating, hot, determined.
Granulous silk,
Plaited silk,
Spongy cloth.
Second scale, volumes

Fifth category: soft, hot, human.
Horsehair or dog hair,
Human hair,

Sixth category: hot, sensual, spirited, affectionate.
This category has two branches:
Rough iron
Soft brush,
Wire brush,
Human or peach fuzz,
Bird down.

Through this separation of tactile values, I have

1. Simple tactile boards that I will present to the
public in our contactilations or conferences on the
Art of touch.

I have arranged the previously catalogued tactile
values in wise harmonic or antithetical combinations.

2. Abstract or suggestive tactile boards (hand

These tactile boards have arrangements of tactile
values that allow hands to wander over them, following
coloured trails and experiencing a succession of
suggestive sensations, whose rhythm, in turn languid,
cadenced, or tumultuous, is regulated by exact

One of these abstract tactile boards made by me, and
that has as a title Sudan-Paris, contains, in the part
representing Sudan, rough, greasy coarse, prickly,
burning tactile values (spongy material, sponge,
sandpaper, wool, brush, wire brush); in the part
representing The Sea, there are slippery, metallic,
fresh tactile values (silver-coated paper); in the
part representing Paris, there are soft, delicate,
caressing tactile values, hot and cold at the same
time (silk, velvet, feathers, down).

3. Tactile boards for the opposite sexes.

In these tactile boards, the arrangement of tactile
values allows the hands of a man and a woman, tied
together, to take a tactile journey together and
evaluate it. These tactile boards are extremely
varied, and the pleasure that they give is enriched by
the harnessing of rival sensibilities, which will
attempt to feel more acutely and better explain their
rival sensations. These tactile boards are destined to
replace the brutalising game of chess.

4. Tactile pillows.

5. Tactile sofas.

6. Tactile beds.

7. Tactile shirts and dresses.

8. Tactile rooms.

In these tactile rooms, we will have floors and walls
made of large tactile boards. Tactile values of
mirrors, running water, rocks, metals, brushes,
lightly electrified wires, marble, velvet, rugs that
will give the bare feet of the male and female dancers
varied pleasures.

9. Tactile streets.

10. Tactile theatres.

We will have theatres arranged for Tactilism. Seated
spectators will rest their hands on long, running
tactile ribbons that will produce tactile sensations
with different rhythms. It will also be possible to
place these ribbons on small rotating wheels,
accompanying them with music and light.

11. Tactile boards for the improvisation of words in

The tactilist will express aloud the sensations that
his hands' journey transmits to him. His will be a
free-word improvisation, that is, freed from all
rhythm, prosody and syntax, an improvisation essential
and synthetic and with as little of the human element
as possible. The improvising tactilist may be
blindfolded, but it is preferable to wrap him in the
light of a projector. The new initiates, who have not
yet trained their tactile sensibilities, will be
blindfolded. But, as for the true tactilists, the full
light of a projector is preferable, since darkness has
the drawback of concentrating sensitivity into an
excessive abstraction.

The education of the sense of touch.

1. It will be necessary to keep the hands gloved for
many days, during which the brain will attempt to
condense in them the desire for varied tactile

2. To swim underwater, in the ocean, trying to
distinguish tactilely the plaited currents and
different temperatures.

3. Enumerate and recognise every evening, in absolute
darkness, all of the objects in the bedroom. It was
precisely with giving myself over to this exercise in
the underground darkness of a trench in Gorizia, in
1917, that I made my first tactile experiments.

I never claimed to have invented the tactile
sensibility, which has already manifested itself in
genial forms in the Jongleuse and in the Hors~nature
of Rachilde. Other writers and artists had
premonitions of tactilism. Moreover, the plastic art
of tactilism has been in existence for a long time. My
great friend Boccioni, futurist painter and sculptor,
felt as a tactilist when he created, in 1919, his
plastic ensemble Fusion of a Head and a Window, with
materials that are absolute contraries in tactile
weight and value: iron, porcelain, and women's hair.

The Tactilism created by me is clearly distinct from
the plastic arts. It has nothing to do with, nothing
to gain from, and everything to lose by association
with painting or sculpture. It is necessary to avoid,
as much as possible in the tactile boards, a variety
in colour, which lends itself to plastic impressions.
It will be difficult for painters and sculptors, who
tend naturally to subordinate tactile values to visual
values, to create significant tactile boards.
Tactilism seems to me particularly suited to young
poets, pianists, typists, and to all erotic, refined,
and potent temperaments.

Tactilism, nevertheless, must avoid not only
collaboration with plastic arts but also morbid
erotomania. It must, simply, have as a goal tactile
harmony, and it must indirectly collaborate in the
perfecting of spiritual communication between human
beings through the epidermis.

The identification of five senses is arbitrary, and
one day we will certainly discover and catalogue
numerous other senses. Tactilism will contribute to
this discovery.


F. T. Marinetti