Skin as boundary / Wearable Tech
Women with eating disorders commonly struggle to express emotion, especially when under stress. How might we provide a conceptual medium to open up discourse regarding this often suppressed and taboo topic?
Taking inspiration from fashion and it’s exhibitionist notion of the female body as an entrapped entity within contemporary power imbalances, an "emotional prosthetic" was created as a medium of expression of the inner emotional and psychological states of the mind through the use of technology. The piece has it’s own functionality not unlike any other body part. When the wearer is under augmented stress, the piece closes to induce feelings of comfort. In contrast, the piece opens up when in a more relaxed and receptive mind state. The accuracy of the two states was facilitated by technical access to biometric data through galvanic skin response sensors. The black sharp extrusions where designed to communicate the distress coming from the body, and silicon was used as a metaphor for the skin. By wrapping the extrusions with silicone and piercing it through the material, the piece gives the impression that the extrusions come directly from the body, acting as a prosthetic - an extension of the body.
Silicone, conductive thread, galvanic skin response circuit, Trinket microcontroller, Arduino IDE, plexiglass, servo motor.
A piece that can be worn, but most likely will be viewed as an interactive medium for discussion about contemporary media and eating disorders in the context of fashion.
Research in fashion/psychology/contemporary media and wearables, concept design, physical computing, garment design, material science.
1- Identify Areas of Opportunity: Based on pressing matters in the realm of psychology, technology and fashion.
2- Research: Emotional prosthetics, fashion, contemporary media, the affective turn and wearables.
3- Envision: How might we translate these notions aesthetically and functionally on the body?
4- Ideate: Sketches for laser cutting, circuit design, material experiments, kinetic tests.
5- Test: Debugging, durability, accuracy of data readings, aesthetic feedback.
9- Iterate: Amplification, context of use and display.
THE NOTION OF FASHION BEING CLOSELY TIED TO THE EXHIBITIONIST AND VOYEURISTIC CONSTITUENTS OF THE MIND IS BROADLY ACCEPTED AND MANIFESTS EVERY DAY IN THE MEDIA AND CONTEMPORARY CULTURE. TOO OFTEN, WE SEEM TO BLINDLY USE THE DESIRE OF THIS NOTION AS AN EXPLANATION FOR SELF-INFLICTING PSYCHOLOGICAL BEHAVIORS. MUCH OF THIS SADOMASOCHISM RESULTING IN FASHION EXTREMISM IS NATURAL AND BEAUTIFUL, BUT SOMETIMES ROOTED IN A DEEPER DISTORTION OF AFFECT. ARGUABLY, WE HAVE SEEN THE "AFFECTIVE TURN" MANIFEST ITSELF THROUGH PARADOXICAL BEHAVIOR, LETTING THE SELF HIDE AT TIMES OF AUGMENTED STRESS.
The corset has since the 1850’s been a symbol and site of feminist debate, discussing power imbalance between the sexes and questioning the physical and mental suppression supposedly imposed on women. There is no doubt about the physical restraints and harm imposed by the tight lacing of the corset, which could sometimes result in severe health issues over prolonged times. However times have changed, and today the corset is being seen in a different light, without the extreme impositions on the body. Jean Paul Gaultier helped transform the notion of the corset in contemporary culture, and served as a great inspiration for the piece. In his most recent exhibition, “From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk” he clearly transforms the notion of the corset into one of sexual power and liberation, as stated by fashion historian Valerie Steele. Walking through the exhibition, you will see statements about his work and life: “Raised by strong women, Gaultier rejects the myth of the weaker sex. With derisive humor, he aims to reinterpret what he sees as signs of the imprisoned female body.” These statements were very influential on the piece, as they reframe the corset and the notion of the female form.