Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Electric Skin

Suzi Webster is a Canadian Multimedia artist. In 2006, she created Electric Skin, made of Elumin8 printed LEDs, silk and sensors. The responsive garment turns the breath of the wearer into pulses of light. The wearer's inhalation and exhalation activate a breath sensor that dims and brightens the printed LED on the item of clothing. The wearer is immersed in the electric aqua light. Other viewers see the intimate breathing of the wearer as slow pulses of light on the exterior of the garment. The development of the interactive art piece is manifested in an installation that illustrates how performance can be used to inform the design of interactive clothing within an experiential environment. Electronic textile refers to a material that incorporates capabilities for sensing, communication, power transmission, and symbolic meanings as being equally important as functions. Her approach entices the viewer to become more aware of his environment, space and relations to others.

Inner -Outer

Electric Skin is a combination of object and performance that investigates divisions between the internal/external and mental/physical, and creates an experience of a luminal space which is neither inside nor outside, but is a third space in-between. The wearer of Electric Skin is connected to a power cable, and while the breath produces a seductive light, it also creates a threat and unease. The inhalation and exhalation of the wearer activates a breath sensor that dims and brightens the printed LED lights of the garment. Electric Skin presents the idea of making clothes that are bio-responsive in some way to either internal or external stimulation. The artist wanted to create a quiet space away from the Medias stimulation around us, but her work turned out to be intense to wear with the voltage of electricity coursing though the garment. Webster’s art installation shows that technology has an impact on human sensing and brings the wearer to an alter state of unconsciousness.
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fashion designers as identity makers

In the book "The art of self-invention, image and identity in popular Visual Culture", the author explains that “much of popular culture reinforces the importance we place on physical appearance as indicative of identity.” This idea is decoded by the use of clothing. The power of dress demonstrates the importance to communicate the differences in terms of nationality, social status, and gender. New social and sexual identities investigate the complexities of contemporary culture which are translated in Hussein Chalayan’s garments. In the world of imagery, representation and subjectivity, woman becomes a desirable image. In the late 20th century, the androgynous figure long-ledged, small-breasted, with a slender silhouette is the social norm. The frail skeleton silhouette seen epitomized in current Medias is considered a Western social norm. Human activities are controlled by the present consumer culture, leading to patterns that may differ from personal views and opinions on the external world. Thinking about identity is a useful technique for shaping the world to our liking. It also makes us more vulnerable then fashion commodities as sources of identity. What are the social consequences of using material goods to display identity? Historically, possession of goods has been a reliable guide to social status. The status of embodied experiences within these processes continues to focus on object-body.

In 2005, Hussein Chalayan showed in Turkey his film "The Absent Presence" which displayed the relationship of the real and the imagined with a series of collected clothes and deformed crystallized garments. The artist treated in a 3D manipulation a DNA extraction process from the clothes collected from unknown people and an anthropological evaluation. This cross-disciplined installation with filmic images and sculpture reveals the approach of Chalayan to the dilemma of identity. Chalayan’s multi-layered narratives are sculpted into neo-mythological and futuristic visual rituals.

In this project he deals with the distressed issue of identity as DNA, and its reflection in the geopolitical situation. The artist points out how certain identities can or cannot adapt to new environments.