Friday, October 12, 2007

The Skorpions Project

SKORPIONS are a set of kinetic electronic garments that move and change on the body in slow, organic motions. They have anthropomorphic qualities and can be imagined as parasites that inhabit the skin of the host. They breathe and pulse, controlled by their own internal programming. They are not “interactive” artifacts insofar as their programming does not respond to simplistic sensor data. They have intentionality; they are programmed to live, to exist, to subsist. They are living behavioral kinetic sculptures that exploit characteristics such as control, anticipation, and unpredictability. They have their own personalities, their own fears and desires.

SKORPIONS integrate electronic fabrics, the shape-memory alloy Nitinol, mechanical actuators such as magnets, soft electronic circuits, and traditional textile construction techniques such as sculptural folds and drapes of fabric across the body. The cut of the pattern, the seams, and other construction details become an important component of engineering design.

SKORPIONS reference the history of garments as instruments of pain and desire. They hurt you and distort your body the same way as corsets and foot binding. They emphasize our lack of control over our garments and our digital technologies. Our clothes shift and change in ways that we do not anticipate. Our electronics malfunction and become obsolete.

SKORPIONS shift and modulate personal and social space by imposing physical constraints on the body. They alter behavior, by hiding or revealing hidden layers, inviting others inside the protective shells of fabric, by erecting breathable walls, or tearing themselves open to divulge hidden secrets.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Constellation Dresses

The Constellation dresses are covered with twelve magnetic snaps arranged over the torso and thighs and connected in pairs through a single line of conductive thread. Light Emitting Diodes are integrated into the dresses in a design that resembles a constellation, with a cluster of stars connected to each other through short and straight lines. One set of snaps acts as a switch for the LED circuit and, when connected to the snaps from another dress, the circuit on the garment is closed and the LEDs light up. The magnetic snaps act as a mechanical and electrical connection between bodies, and their irregular placement induces wearers to create playful and compelling choreographies to connect their circuits. Rather than being complete and functional electronic pieces in themselves, these garments work as meshes on a circuit network and depend on the physical contact of the magnetic snaps to function. By bringing people together mechanically and electronically, the garments explore metaphors for building electronic or social networks. In addition, the dresses compel people to draw power from each other, hinting at a parasitic model for powering our mobile technologies.


The Leech dress, constructed with stitched conductive organza stripes, functions as a soft, wearable, and reconfigurable power-distribution substrate for attaching individual siliconecoated electronic modules (the “Leeches”) that illuminate the dress. The Leeches can be attached in a variety or positions and configurations. They are held in place by magnetic snaps, which act both as mechanical and electrical connections. A single power module can be attached at the shoulder. This module can power up to ten Leeches scattered around the body. The red LEDs inside the Leeches resemble powerhungry creatures that, once attached, suck or draw power (the metaphoric "blood") from your body and reference the potential dangers of electromagnetic fields emanating from electronic garments.