Computational Couture 2008

In the first of three entries on fiber fashion and related art, Patty had sent me the catalog from Seamless: Computational Couture 2008, an exhibition held last January at -appropriately enough- the Boston Museum of Science. Being somewhat dense, I’ve never been able to grok art but there’s enough apparel mixed with science to appease my not-so-inner geek. I’ve scanned the catalog (13 facing pages) and created a pdf (1490 kb) if you want to follow along on some of the items that caught my eye. In order given:

Apparel was the first, a project by Jenny Chowdhury. My copy of the catalog was wet in that corner so I don’t know what it looks like. Jenny is a bit of a prankster with a BS (Tufts) and MS (NYU) in electrical engineering, she’s no intellectual or creative slouch. I feel a sense of disappointment; perhaps she’s set my expectations high based on her previous projects. Her jacket uses radio waves to illuminate stripes according to Wi-Fi signal strength. That said, it could be useful when traveling and you’re looking for an open connection.

The Charming Burka was interesting. It allows a woman wearing one to transmit a preselected image of herself to someone nearby on their cell phone. Apparently, this doesn’t violate the laws in the Koran. Designed by Markus Lison using Bluebot technology. Hmm, I could imagine a whole range of garments doing the same. Best not to give naughty teens any ideas.

Markus also designed a Vanity Ring. With an electronic display and web connected docking device, it displays the number of Google hits one’s name generates. In case you wonder, Markus majored in Physics. Heh.


Some things I didn’t get, perhaps they were too abstract or didn’t bear any utility (I know, I know). Doesn’t mean they weren’t any good, just that I’m too dense to appreciate them. Two such were the Clothing Cladding (maybe you can explain it to me) and the Incision Shirt. Just didn’t get what the big deal was about it that it took five people to make it. Also, anytime artists get emo-intellectual, I’m in so deep I need a life preserver. Clothing Cladding Designers: Mariana Ibanez, Simon Kim, and Analisa Russo. Incision Shirt Designers: Karen Fleming, Aoife Ludlow, Duncan Neil, Emma McClintock, and John McLachlan

Like most everything, Jacket Antics was of dubious value (that is not the point) but it was clever. LED arrays of texts and design are embedded in the backs of jackets. When wearers hold hands, the LEDs form a synchronous message across the backs of both. Designer: Barbara Layne. A related project, ok2touch were jackets that play music when wearers hold hands. ok2touch Designers: Jay Silver and Jodi Finch

Ooooh (ouch) the Kyrielle Collection are two bags -male and female- with mixed messages. Designed to work together, the male bag is non-functional without the female bag and carries the electronic support and power system for its female partner. It is also described as “aggressive”. Not sure I like the message this project sends. Designers: Julie Legault, Josiane Mercier Auger, and Elio Bidinost

Lest I’m accused of failing to notice it, the Infinity Burial Suit is duly noted -morbid and kind of gross (and not what you’re thinking). Designer: Jae Rhim Lee

Open Shade -in spite of more copy than most- the meaning or intent of this piece was not well articulated. So it’s a solar powered head scarf. To what purpose? What does it do? Designers: Alice Tseng-Planas, Farida Kebaili, Nadra Kebaili, Leif Krinkle, Hatti Lim, and Laura Moore

Party Dress unfolds to become a tent. I know what you’re thinking. The only obvious difference being that this was designed to do it -on purpose. Designers: Dana Karwas and Karla Karwas (sisters).

Sun, Moon and Sky Dresses. A series of three gowns reflecting the changing barometric characteristics of each. The Sky dress is an inflatable. Designers: Valérie Lamontagne with Lynn Van Gastel, Patrice Coulombe, and David Beaulieu

Piezing is a top and bottom (illustration only, no photo) that have embedded piezoelectric film fibers. These convert mechanical movement generated by the wearer into electric voltage, stored into batteries (disguised as buttons) which can be discharged to portable electronic devices. The embed pattern of the film fibers of the top confuses me somewhat. I can only imagine the designer is forever yanking their front neckline down. I would have aligned the pattern to the primary range of motion so like I said, this confuses me. Designers: Amanda Parkes and Adam Kumpf

Polite Umbrella is a must have item for -er- the socially challenged. Apparently, it also has a sense of humor. Designer: JooYoun Paek

Not sure what to think of the Skorpions project, subject of a later entry today. I’d most definitely would want a look, up close and personal. Can I touch? Designers: Joanna Berzowska, Di Mainstone, Marguerite Bromley, Marcelo Coelho, David Gauthier, Francis Raymond, and Valerie Boxer

Solar Vintage represent a collection of solar powered accessories which can be docked in the evening to provide ambient light. Designer: Elena Cochero

Sp4rkl3 (it annoys me when numbers and letters are mixed, harder to type too) is similar to the Piezo project, likewise only a sketch was provided. Too bad; it was one of the items I most would have wanted to see. Designers: Kit Waal and Rehmi Post

Sp4rkl3 is a dress that lights up due to its own motion. As Sp4rkl3’s skirt swishes and sways, it provides a dynamic light show, encouraging its wearer to be active and giving others a visible gauge of her level of motion. There are no batteries in the dress itself, which uses a novel power distribution mechanism and creates a dazzling effect with virtually no indication that electronics are involved.

Trikoton is the “voice knitting collection”. Knitting patterns based on the frequency bands of human speech are converted in binary code. The result looks similar to ikat. Designers: Magdalena Kohler and Hanna Wiesener

The last item, X-travagant X-pansionism while unique, I’m not sure really belongs in here. Like the ballgown tent, it’s a mechanical device. Inspired by a peacock’s plumage (with silk colors to match), the wearer can pull a lever to raise the peacocks tail. Designer: Grace D. Johnston

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4 comments

  1. Jing Liu says:

    I love the Jacket Antics, great for advertising. haha.

    I would love to see videos of the clothing, especially the Skorpions, that looks pretty cool.

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