Wanting to Be You is a suit that allows one ardent fan to distinguish themselves from the crowd at film premieres. The suit is comprised of a projector, speakers and a light system, controlled by an portable media player. The suits emits hysterical screams louder than the standard fan collective. As the target star approaches confessed messages are projected. When the wearer gets the attention from the object of their devotion, the suit rejoices by bursting into a climatic display
The work was exhibited a few weeks ago at the work in progress show of the Royal College of Art in London. Given my recent obsession with everything Demis Roussos, i couldn’t help but imagine myself wearing it for his next gig and i asked Ross Cairns, student at the Design Interactions department, to explain us what the suit was about exactly.
Why did you chose to engage with the (sub-)culture of fandom? Did any particular story or person triggered this interest?
I must admit my real interest came when I discovered the story of Mark Boardman. He’s an ardent celebrity spotter with over 4000 autographs, his own celebrity testimonials and now if your not on the A-List, he’s not interested. His website alone is true expression of devotion, I love it. But this suit isn’t for him. Possibly he has surpassed the status of ‘fan’. Through his connection to fame he has become an object of fame.
I started hanging out at London’s Leicester Square during film premiers as I was so intrigued by fandom – that strange mix between aspiration and devotion – that i think we all have in us. The way people interact at premiers is amazing. Like the frenzied girls I stood between who were passionately screaming after every second word whilst arguing over the tactical advantages of where they stood. Or, every passer by who asked who the celebrities were when really only 10% of fans there could really see anything.
Have you ever tested the suit yourself? With what outcome? Do you really think you can find a true and dedicated fan of some celebrity who will be brave enough to wear it?
It’s great to play around with – but it’s not ready yet! As for myself, possibly I’m a little too introverted and stand-offish to use it, but the extroversion it causes to the wearer is enjoyable. Whether my fan who will wear this is truly dedicated to a celebrity remains to be seen. But my aim is to make them seem more truly dedicated than anyone else. Of course even if I were able to exceed my ambitions it may be tactfully ignored by the film stars. But as a vehicle of expression I’m interested to see any reaction from other fans.
Has the idea of ‘being a fan’ anything to do with standing out from other fans? Or isn’t it more part of being in a group of shouting and like-minded people?
I think both. By being a fan you express an interest to be part of a collective. This could be apparent in that fans further back in the crowd scream, cheer and shout even when they can’t see what is happening. But at the same time you use your fanaticism to define yourself and distinguish yourself from others. This could be a bit emotive and sincere, like placards people bring to express affection. Ultimately if the aim is to grab attention at premier, it is competitive.
Do you plan to keep on working on the project and bring it any further?
Yes certainly, there’s a lot to be done. In the show was my initial study of how to realise the technicalities. Now I’m in the process of designing a more robust suit. Then, hopefully, I’m off to catch a premier or two.