Can I Touch Your Hair? explores the relationship between black women, their hair and the beauty salon. By pairing 30 found images from Black Sophisticates Hair Styles and Care Guide Magazine with an eclectic assortment of audio sounds, this interactive iPad app sheds light on the various supplies and tools needed to achieve certain black hairstyles. In the original photographs, each woman poses in profile or with a 45° tilt of their head on a brightly colored background. Their posture suggests a hyper idealized beauty standard, reinforced with flawless skin and perfectly pinned strands of hair. I cropped these images to just under their eyes, in order to emphasize the complexity of hair textures (natural, straight, weave, loose, curly or kinky) and the intensity of the black female gaze. The app elicits a sense of curiosity and playfulness from its users in order to model the encounter of someone unfamiliar with black hair care.
Upon a single touch of an image, a video is cued and synced to the appearance of image and text fragments as they transition into the scene. Among the text fragments are names of popular black hair products (B&B, Ampro Pro Styl) and the naming system for purchasable packets of hair (1B/Yaki). The last element to transition into the video are the durations of time black women can spend in the salon. By indicating the time in green, the user is also exposed to another layer of information that is sometimes unclear outside of black culture. While some videos are accompanied by music heard in the salon, others are matched with the sound of rain as a metaphor for washing hair or the sound of a frying pan to that of hot comb pulling through the hair.