Archive for September, 2010
I have two ideas for a final piece. One of them is to develop a skirt I made last year out of over 600 slides I found in a cart on the street. Probably discarded by a fashion photographer, they were of models walking down the runway in the 80′s sporting all the most famous designers of the time, Donna Karan, Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein, etc. I wove them together, still in their sleeves, with electrical wire I found in the shop and slid some LEDs with batteries in the sleeves of a few slides to illuminate select images.
I wore the skirt out to a party, and at the end of the evening I had a few ideas to develop the skirt that I haven’t been able to get to. One would be to properly weave the slides together in a more robust manner. Another is to use design a mechanism by which the layers of slides would be lit in sequence or according to where they are touch or pressed. I’m thinking of the design for Firefly by Maggy Orth, where she uses two layers of conductive organza to trigger lights in the dress while the person is moving. I’m also thinking of looking into other soft switches and sensors.
Deep Sea Inspired Jewelry
The other idea for the final project is to develop a design for jewelry inspired by creatures of the deep sea. I want to study their biology–the shapes and function of their body parts –eyes, fins, tails, skeletal and limbic systems, choose a few creatures to use as inspiration for wearable luminescent art. One idea is to make use of light “sandwiched” between layers of semi-transparent and opaque material that would direct light around the curves of the body in interesting ways.
Ideas for modification:
- Adding inlaid lights to 1. Aid in fining objects inside the bag. 2. Act as a light for using keys in dark place. or 3. As a bike light for cycling at night.
- It might also be interesting to add velcro patches where I could hitch keys, my wallet, and other things I usually have to dig around for.
- This may actually benefit from the new silver coated fabric and other fabric that would repel stains and stay bacteria free. The cloth usually used to create it tends to stain and absorb just about everything.
From my friend Matthew Flanagan, a couple interesting links on wearable tech:
An article from TMS.org “From Electric Corsets to Self-Cleaning Pants” on a myriad of inventions in high tech fabrics–scent-emitting clothes, . My favorite is the “Firefly Dress” invented by Maggie Orth.
“The skirt of that dress was made of two layers of conductive organza, one acting as power and other as ground plane. Small light-emitting diodes (LEDs) were attached randomly to the skirt, with Velcro brushes on their ends. When both ends of the LEDs brushed against the power and ground planes, such as when the person wearing the dress walked, the circuit was complete and the dress lit up.”
I’d like to watch the film “The Man in the White Suit” (1951) next.
“An altruistic chemist invents a fabric that resists wear and stain as boon to humanity but both capital and labor realize it must be suppressed for economic reasons.”
Since we had talked about the possibility of doing a calligraphy and graffiti piece for Big Screens, I decided to throw up some past work into the screen format to see what it would look like when we projected them at that size into the space.
For interactivity scenarios, we discussed using IR sensors or accelerometers implanted into painting tools–specifically a large calligraphy brush or graffiti spray can or fire extinguisher (the most fun one!)–that performer would then use to “paint” on the screen. Jeff Howard came up with the idea of using IR sensors. Neil Hickey has prototyped a graffiti writing program in Processing. I used the Calligraphy brush to modulate bird songs while painting with real ink in our first semester Phys Comp class.
We also discussed using video of trains–roughly the size of the actual screen itself, on which to paint. The trains could move past as we painted, creating a scrolling effect so that all the viewers would be able to see the paintings emerge as they zoomed by.
I’m also including work from other projects. These are screen shots from a video on the Aswang, ink paintings from “Toes”, “I Love You Like Water” and “Breathless”, as well as shots from the Twilight installation in San Francisco.
There are a few things that I’d like to continue chewing on as a result of today’s class.
1. I have always been in love with calligraphy, letter forms and mark-making –the ways in which human beings mark their world is reflective of who they are, their experience. In the greater picture, the way our mark making evolves mirrors the way in which culture evolves. Furthermore, especially with Chinese calligraphy and many other ancient writing, mark making originated in a 3-dimensional experience. In the experience of carving, cutting, and sculpting forms into meaning. And then as language, integrating the practice of stringing meanings together to make other meanings, to subvert meanings, and to form narratives and play in the realm of metaphor.
So, what would it be like to take letterforms back into their 3-dimensional element. What would it mean to wear a character or letter form?
2. In this line of thought, I think a challenge of the forthcoming generation of designers/inventors/artists of “wearable technology” is to a). make it a medium which enhances creativity and individual expression rather than dictating and projecting a homogenizing aesthetic unto people, and b) therefore, making room for the expression and development of new cultural expressions that naturally honor and build on traditions of the past.
I think this is more than making something customizable. To customize in this society, bears a kind of individualistic consumerism that is in itself an advertising gimmick. It often gives people the illusion of agency, but often this agency is very superficial–such as the color of a car or interchangeable handles on a handbag. Understandably, not everyone is or wants to be a designer in their own right. But there is something in me that wants to ask, what is the holy grail of interactive design?
How can we create a garment that continually feeds and cultivates creativity over time and use. Almost like a toy that is an open ended puzzle. This in itself would perhaps subvert the compulsion to consume more and more things as the only means to individuate. Because then, you can ultimately just alter what you already have.
I guess I see capitalist consumption as a practice that deadens resourcefulness, creativity, learning, experimentation, and individualism. It takes time and energy away from personally satisfying leisure–the kind of affirmation that only the creative act can give in art or craft. I want to go back to the days where there was time, energy, skill, and need to repurpose, redesign, remake the things we already have.
I remember when I was young in the Philippines, the women in the household would make rag rugs and cleaning cloths out of all our old and worn garments. These were beautiful pieces, a kind of crazy collage of different strips of t-shirt fabric, towels, sheets, jeans, you name it. All sewn in a spiral to form various shapes in all sizes according to their use. I want to make one of these things again.
3. My last idea specifically pertains to the assignment to create a dream object. Its ironic on the heels of the last statement, but recently I have fantasized about remaking my favorite bag in tyvek. It is actually a bag traditionally used by monastic men and women in Tibetan Buddhist communities. It was given to me when I went to study Buddhism in Nepal, and has traveled with me far and wide around the world. It is such a practical bag. It is light, collapsible, expandable, has just the right number and size of pocks, zips for closure, has a handle wide enough to distribute weight over one shoulder or across the back. It matches and adds color to every casual outfit I wear (it is a kind of magically neutral maroon). It can be tied to things and itself used to tie things. It is cloth and so can even double as something to wipe with or as a pillow. It is easy to wash. It is easy to customize and easy to repair. It fits very large things but makes them seem not large because it has a way of hugging the body. It is just the right length so as not to obstruct one’s stride. It’s handle can easily be shortened so that it can become a hand bag instead of a shoulder bag.
In fact, perhaps the only thing that the tyvek material could add to it is virtual indestructibility and the nice aesthetic of looking and feeling as light as paper. I am in love with tyvek. I want to bring it back from the 60s and 80s. I’ve enjoyed using it for painting in lieu of the traditional hand-made bark paper. Although they don’t make it with the same variety and loft as kozo and other fine papers, it has fascinated me recently. And I want to explore the potential to build with it.
Response to George Simmel’s essay on Fashion in the American Journal of Sociology (May 1957).
This article is so old, that in some ways it seems unfair for me to respond with my post-modern perspective. The relationship Simmel draws between fashion and class –referring to the fetish for the exotic, imported, other fashion as belonging to the elite civilized upper class while being derided by lower class or “primitive” society– was utterly turned on its head in the 1960 and has been further undermined by the rise of Hip Hop and the influences of marginalized cultures on mainstream commercial fashion.
I will agree with him that “What we call the present is usually nothing more than a combination of a fragment of the past with a fragment of the future.” This seems borne out by countless trends that revisit and draw inspiration from eras past–the hipsters today could be said to be a somewhat watered down combination of grunge fashion from the 90s and the hippie fashion of the 60s with an ironic twist on the homeliness of the 50s.
Assignment: Create a circuit without wires
Using a 2-AA battery pack, aluminum foil and conductive ink (water, salt, graphite), I am able to create a circuit that lights an LED mounted unto a piece of calligraphy. Learnings: I left the metal spoon in the conductive ink mixture overnight and the medium ate thru the patina of the spoon! This is powerful stuff.
Assignment: Create a mask that hides and a mask that reveals you. (I decided to create one mask that can do both.)
Immediately upon hearing the assignment I wanted to create a piece with mirrors. The mask, for me, became a way to explore the action of perceiving and revealing. I often feel that our projections come in the way of our perception, and in a sense I’ve felt personally that this body–the way I look–distracts people from what I say and who I am. I am also interested in the idea that simultaneous awareness, in the Buddhist sense, can enable us to reveal a more true reality. So in creating a mask that reveals I wanted to have a “mask” that enables people to become aware of themselves, the act of looking, and the environment of looking. A mirror.
The light for me is analogous to the mechanism of illumination. The process that we go through when we attempt to shed light on something can both obscure and reveal what is before us depending on our skill in its use. Thus, the 2-way mirror only reveals what is behind it when the light is also behind it.