The artist walked around the Conflux area with his Vertical Bed in a suitcase, found himself a nice spot, anchored his prostheses above subway vents or other rigid contact points and stayed there sleeping in an upright position for 40 minute intervals several times in a day.
Concealed harnesses ensure that Jamie didn't fall over. He also wore noise canceling headphones and double-mirrored sunglasses, padded with little cusions to keep his eyelid closed. In case of bad weather, an umbrella clips in the infrastructure for shelter.
The project is designed for the visual performance of an alternate way of occupying urban space, born partly out of fantasies of minimal need and elegant futurism, and partly out of fears of the dehumanization of space. Occupants will absorb the vertical structure of urban architecture into their bodies. The vertical sleeper is in a constant state of readiness, never succumbing to collapse. Homelessness is most often marked by the forbidden act of lying down on the sidewalk, an act that the vertical bed circumvents.
The Static Obesity Logging device, part of Target set of projects, can be installed almost anywhere. The casing of the innocent-looking device conceals a computer, digital and analogue inputs and outputs and a camera. The system is able to remotely calculate Body Mass Index and communicate the data via wired and wireless networks.
The purpose of the device is to raise a series of slightly disturbing questions. Surveillance technologies are becoming increasingly important and invasive in our daily life (especially in the UK). How far can it go? Could we envision that one day surveillance technology will have a role in healthcare? Could it provide some help in the fight against obesity? What would then be the potential uses (misuses?) of this data by others? How much would this affect our civil liberties? Do we really have a voice to protest the Big Brother society?
Funniest project seen at the RCA show. You won't need my explanation, just have a look at the video:
Signs of Life was created by Freddie Yauner (of the highest popping toaster in the world fame) a graduate of the Design Products department, Platform 11 . Because it was exhibited where you'd expect to see an emergency exit sign i did believe that it was a real one for a moment.
Another project from the RCA Design Interactions show. This one made me laugh so much:
In wealthier neighbourhoods, the size of the house and how well maintained the garden is, often represents status.
The Grass Scanner is a device designed by Alice Wang to measure how green the grass is. Using 3 Pantone Color Cue devices, it takes reading from 3 random patches of the grass and outputs a Pantone colour code for one to compare. With the codes, one can refer to the PARKTONE cards which contains average grass colours of Royal Parks and other green areas in the UK for people to match up with their own garden.
As grass condition in different areas of a given park may vary, each area was measured several times before an average of the data was used to create the PARKTONE card.
Relate: Mugs for a perfect tea.
Quite a few projects made my day over there. The ones of Yuri Suzuki for example. That guy is so talented it should be illegal. He's an artist, musician and now a fresh graduate from the Design Products department. His project is concerned with revamping and giving new forms and meanings to the almost obsolete turntable, a device which very few of us still have in their house. We don't buy disks of CDs anymore either. Nowadays music is more abstract and immaterial than ever. Sound has been reduced to data.
Sound Chaser looks like a little toy train that rides on record rails. You can align and connect each chipped pieces of second-hand records one to another and compose a new track that the train will play.
The TipTap, developed in collaboration with Bahbak Hashemi-Nezhad, is a little hammer that reveals the dormant sounds around us.
A small metal tapper housed in the object taps out a rhythm on any object or surface that you hold it near to. The rhythm is set either by the user or can be defined by the controller. Alternatively, a beat can be taken from your favourite record, allowing you to play along while keeping perfectly in time. The TipTap can also synchronise with other users to make a social tapping experience.
The Prepared Turntable is an analogue answer to the digitalized DJ. The turntable has 5 tone arms, each of which can have its volume controlled by its own fader. Users can make or play music with special loop groove records.
The Finger Player is a wearable record player. Insert your fingers into one of the little rings, play the record just by holding your hand over the disk and feel the physicality of making sound.
Sound Jewellery conceives sound as something precious that you can offer to a friend or wear as a memory of a shared laugher, a romantic conversation, any sound moment from your daily life. The record is made up of components which of course you can play but they can also be worn as bracelet, brooch or other pieces of jewellery.
Published by Springer, abstract: The interplay of electronic textiles and wearable technology, wearables for short, and fashion, design and science is a highly promising and topical subject. Offered here is a compact survey of the theory involved and an explanation of the role technology plays in a fabric or article of clothing. The practical application is explained in detail and numerous illustrations serve as clarification. Over 50 well-known designers, research institutes, companies and artists, among them Philips, Burton, MIT Media Lab, XS Labs, New York University, Hussein Chalayan, Cute Circuit or International Fashion Machines are introduced by means of their latest, often still unpublished, project, and a survey of their work to date. Given for the first time is a list of all the relevant information on research institutes, materials, publications etc. A must for all those wishing to know everything about fashionable technology.
The book contains only 15 pages of theoretical discourse. It might not sound like a lot but they have the virtue of going straight to the point. Sabine Seymour knows what she's writing about. Because the Vienna slash New York-based designer and researcher has spent several years dedicating her energy and brain to the exploration of what the next generation wearables would bring, she can see beyond the hype and detect what is truly inspiring or meaningful design-wise. Mondial Inc is a commercial entity born from her research and her role as an educator. She has lectured and exhibited her work internationally and she's currently a faculty member at Parsons The New School for Design in New York and the University of Arts and Industiral Desin in Linz, Austria.
The theoretical intro covers briefly the history of wearable computing, comments on the technology used to enable garments to interact, underlines textile innovations, adds some design considerations in the process, etc.
After the intro, there's just a magnificent show and tell of some of the latest (a number of them haven't been published anywhere else) and most interesting techno-fashion projects. You'll find the big names of the industry (phillips, Nike, Adidas) but also pioneering and fearless fashion designers (Hussein Chalayan), the explorers of poetical fashion (Ying Gao), the young stars (CuteCircuit), the makers of fermented dresses (Donna Franklin), the always elegant (Despina Papadopoulos), the unclassifiable Kate Hartman), the lady ready for the catwalk in outer space (Kouji Hikawa), the geeky knitters (Cat Mazza, Ebru Kurbak & Mahir Yavuz), etc.
The book won't tell you everything you dream to know about fashion and technology, how to make a singing skirt or used nanotech in your next project, but it will definitively enable you to have an idea of the breadth and scope of the discipline. Besides it demosntrates that techno-fashion designers have gone a long way since the time "wearable technology" consisted of a keyboard roughly distributed over the body.
There are many books about fashion and technology but this one is truly unique. It's engaging, intelligent and it will make you smile and inspire as you turn the pages over. Besides, it makes a fantastic resource for students and anyone interested in the subject. There's a bibliography, a glossary of innovative materials, a list of blogs and websites but also events and institutes which will enable readers to dig further into the subject.
The book was launched last Thursday in New York. Phil Torrone from Make magazine was there. Just for info, Ulrike Reinhard had a chance to video one of Sabine's presentation a while ago.