Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Wear Now Symposium

Wear Now Symposium

Friday 2nd February
5:00pm to 7:30 pm
On the last day of the reSkin lab we’re throwing open the lab doors to invite the public in to see the prototypes artists have been working on. Come along for informal discussions, wearables viewings and drinks with reSkin artists and facilitators. Launch of Filter wearables edition.
Venue: The Textiles Workshop and Foyer Gallery at The School of Art, Australian National University, Building 105, Childers St, Acton, Canberra, ACT.

Saturday 3 February
10-10:20 Welcome Dr Melinda Rackham ANAT Executive Director
10:20-12:00 Wearable Histories
Assoc. Professor Joanna Berzowska and Dr. Stephen Barrass Panel Chair Nigel Lendon, Associate Head of School, School of Art, ANU.
12:00-1:30 Wearables Now
Elise Co, Susan Cohn and Angela, Rowena and Juliana Foong of High Tea with Mrs. Woo label Panel Chair Valerie Kirk, Head of the Textiles Workshop ANU.
1:30-2:30 Lunch
2:30-4:00 Wearables Research and Development
Robin Cranston (CSIRO) Oron Catts (Symbiotica) and Sarah Kettley (Arts and Science Research Fellow, Napier University, Edinburg). Panel Chair Gordon Bull, Head of School of Art, ANU.
4:00-5:30 reSkin Outcomes
Dr. Alistair Riddell and Cinnamon Lee and demos from participants. Panel Chair Eleanor Gates-Stuart, Head of CNMA, ANU.
5:30-5-50 Closing Statement
Catrina Vignando, General Manager, Craft Australia
6:00-7:00 Informal Drinks
7:30 Symposium Dinner at The Chairman and Yip

Visions Theatre
National Museum of Australia
Lawson Crescent
Acton Peninsula
Acton ACT

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

essay about EXPORT trip from last October

It is always with mixed emotions and some amount of internal conflict that I "export" our work in electronic textiles and reactive garments. Although all of our projects at XS Labs use weaving, stitching, embroidery, and other traditional construction techniques, they also (1) necessitate considerable cutting-edge technical know-how and (2) rely on the integration of materials such as conductive threads and textiles that are quite expensive and difficult to source.

I grew up in Poland and in Equatorial Africa. I am aware, from first-hand experience, that most of the world does not share the economic comfort, intellectual freedom, and focus on self-empowerment that we enjoy in Montreal. Yet I still always "export" our electronic textile work in the hope that the technical innovations and the conceptual ideas will be relevant in other socio-economic contexts. This is often not the case.

After my first presentation in Serbia, I was informed (in private, outside the building) that the Design Academy barely had a couple of old computers. The students who attended my presentation were interested, of course, but were also critical (in private, outside the building) of what they perceived as the arrogance inherent in my expectation that they would have access to the same resources and training that we provide in the West.

My reply to those women, as well as those in Sofia and Istanbul, is that yes, in the words of William Gibson, "The future is here. It's just not evenly distributed yet." On the other hand, I personally believe that many of their fears and doubts are not justified. I believe that there is a lot of propaganda, especially aimed at women, about electronics and digital technology being hard and inaccessible. But I am hoping to show, through continuing "export", that we can use simple electronics to do things that, although they are extremely cheap and technically trivial, can be very complex conceptually or aesthetically. Although they are simple, they can raise complicated issues around questions of individual, social, cultural, and political identity. This is not high tech; it is merely good design.