Thursday, 17 December 2009

Phillips Design Probes - Fractal:Living Jewellery

Fractal is a stunning, figure-hugging outfit consisting entirely of huge imitation jewels augmented by pulsing LEDs. By incorporating sensors that measure movement, excitement levels and proximity of others - and using this input to alter the intensity of its integrated lighting - Fractal essentially becomes an extension of the body. It also serves as a platform for exploring emotional sensing. Unlike a cut and sewn garment, Fractal is made using product materials and processes. This opens up the possibility of ‘Hybrid’ forms and new functionalities in the search for solutions in the spaces of traditional apparel functionality - thermal protection, structure and support, water resistance, providing modesty, flesh control, and the ever-changing style calendars.

Attempting to acknowledge the display of hybrid make up has begun to provide an understanding of what these forms of make up symbolise for the wearer and also the viewer. These make-ups (surely there must be a better word to explain this new method of application) are also an attempt to define self-identity and it is important to also discuss and explore the experiential dimension of novel make-up consumption. How to capture the history, motivation, beliefs, behaviours and experiences of designers and wearers of alternative make up techniques is of interest because it will gain an insight into the impact of how we seek to create appearance and are judged by it. The appearance codes of power, status, sexual allurement and self-esteem are all obviated, heightened or replaced with new codes.


Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Philips Design Probes - Skin Tattoos

Tattoos and physical mutilation are amongst the oldest forms of personal expression and identity. Subcultures have used tattoos as a form of self representation; a visual language communicating personality and status. Philips Design examined the growing trend of extreme body adornment like tattoos, piercing, implants and scarring.

The Electronics Tattoo film expresses the visual power of sensitive technology applied to the human body. The film subtly leads the viewer through the simultaneous emotional and aesthetic transformations between two lovers.

Over the years those using cosmetics have attracted attention for all sorts of reasons - including ritualistic and honorific - but often, especially in modern times, the context has been sexual. But does the application of these products make any difference to the way other people behave? While makeup seems to work by increasing perceived attractivity, it can also signal a willingness to interact, status or even availability.

How does the crisis effect future lifestyle? Wherein lie the secrets of electronic tattoos?

Clive van Heerden, Senior Director of Design-Lead Innovation at Philips, presents a vision of the future of lifestyles.

One area you are working on, are dresses, that reveal the emotional state of its carrier. How do you at Philips imagine the use of such dresses? Why do you think people will want to express emotions through their dresses?
Yes, these were typical design probes. Our work on wearable electronics for performance sportswear and medical monitoring applications had taken us a long way down the road of biometric sensing – particularly the integration of sensing technology using soft (textile based) non-invasive techniques. It started to occur to us that by using combinations of sensors we could distinguish different emotional or mood states which struck us as extremely relevant to developing new interaction modalities and UI technology. We had been critical of the obsession to make intelligent products when almost no attention is paid to the sensitivity of machines – the ability to understand the emotional state of a person using the technology. Choosing to make dresses as the carrier for a suite of technical propositions based on these technologies came about because of the socio-cultural research we had been doing into youth fashion in Japan. We wanted to test the idea of emotional sensing without eliciting preconceived reactions which we believed would have been the case if we’d made a ‘sensitive’ DVD player or remote control.

Even more unsettling and intimate is the concept of electronic tattoos. How would patterns and colours be evoked? Will such tattoos be based on nanotechnology?
As with many probes, the underlying technical idea was not new – several people had proposed methods for creating sub-cuttaneous displays. We were testing reaction to the idea of the human body as a platform for electronic and bio-chemical technologies. Our research with the dresses had pointed to a distinction between role playing tendencies and fashion expression and we were very interested in how young people use technology to develop new forms of expression – SMS dialects being an example. As a company that makes medical equipment, we felt that the probe concept had to be far enough away from our regular business to ensure that the feedback was not clouded by reaction to existing technology or attitudes to our brand. Tattoos have become a universal form of youth expression and seemed the perfect carrier to test the idea of emotionally sensitive intra body technology driving displays under the skin in an application with no obvious utility. The reaction was very rapid and very intense – contrary to our expectation no one seemed to question the inevitability of it happening or any of the practical issues that seem very obvious – the overall response was about control and how people feel they are losing control in their lives.

Looking back at science fiction movies, nothing looks more outdated than visions of the past. Why?
Various people have said that visions of the future say more about the present in which they were made than they do about the future. That ‘present’ dates inevitably. We believe that the future has more to do with the past than the present – looking at long range historical trends, catalytic events and their knock on effects, cyclical reoccurrence and repetitive themes of human behaviour are more important than linear projections of existing technologies or social behaviours. In a way we need to try not to be predictive which is why we try to disassociate an idea as much as possible from any of the anchor points a consumer of person viewing it might turn to. We want as little association to a brand, product genre, geographical location, attitudes to gender, sexuality, religion and the like to prejudice the reaction. The best we can do is a cultural echo-sounding and see if it resonates. The greater the detail and contextualisation of an idea the more prejudiced the reaction which is why art does not date in the same way as technology, fashion or science fiction movies.

Monday, 14 December 2009

HiTech Scarification

Tattoos for the Blind is an art project created by Klara Jirkova, a student at the University of Arts Berlin. The idea is that implantable beads placed just under the skin could form readable braille characters.

If braille tattoos were implemented, the technology would present blind people with a way to have a meaningful body modification.

...implants creating embossed text in braille placed under skin, can be read by touch - stroke by blind people. it could be either a small slide with embossed text in braille or bead-style implants (in this case the size of the beads must be a bit bigger than the standardized size of braille text. too small beads will sink in the muscles and they will not be embossed). alternative - transdermal implants, placed partially below and partially above the skin... (Klara Jirkova).

As soon as I saw this project, I thought immediately of African scarification. The modification is accomplished by cutting or puncturing the skin; soot can be used as a sterile irritant to make the scarring more prominent.

Smart and Intelligent Textiles

Intelligent textiles represent the next generation of fibres, fabrics and articles produced from them. They can be describes as textile materials that think for themselves, for example through the incorporation of electronic devices or smart materials. Many intelligent textiles already feature in advanced types of clothing, principally for protection and safety and for added fashion or convenience. Intelligent textiles provide evidence of the potential still to be realised not onlyin the textiles industry but all within cosmetic application to the face. moreover it is anticipated that many of the future developments will be the result of the active collaboration between people from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines: engineering, science, design, process development, and business and marketing.

Definition and Classification of Smart Textiles
Smart textiles are defined as textiles that can sense an react to environmental conditions or stimuli from mechanical, thermal, electric or magnetic sources. According to functional activity smart textiles can be classified in three categories:

Passive Smart Textiles: the first generations of smart textiles which can only sense environmental conditions or stimulus are called Passive Smart Textiles
Active Smart Textiles: The second generation has both actuators and sensors. The actuators act upon the detected signal either directly or from a central control unit. Active smart textiles are shape memory, chameleonic, water resistant, and vapor permeable (hydrophilic / non porous), heat storage, thermo regulated, vapour absorbing, heat evolving fabric and electrically heated suits.

Ultra Smart Textiles: Very smart textiles are the third generation of smart textiles which can sense, react and adopt themselves to environmental conditions or stimuli. A very smart or intelligent textile essentially consists of a unit, which works like the brain, with cognition, reasoning and activating capacities.

New/ Smart materials and fibres used in textiles

Shape Memory Materials
There are two types of Shape Memory Materials. The first classes materials stable at two or more temperature states. In these different temperature states, they have the potential to assume different shapes, when their transformation temperatures have been reached. For clothing applications, the desirable temperatures for the shape memory effect to be triggered will be near body temperature. This technology has been pioneered by the UK Defence Clothing and Textiles Agency. The other types of shape memory materials are electroactive polymers, which change shape in response to electrical stimuli.

Chromic Materials
Other types of intelligent textiles are those which change their colour reversibly according to external environmental conditions, for this reason they are called chameleon fibres. Chromic materials are the general term referring to materials which radiate the colour, erase the colour, or just change it because its induction caused by external stimulus, as 'Chromix' is a suffix that means colour. Therefore we can classify chromic materials depending on the stimulus affecting them (in bold are indicated those used in textiles):

Photochromic: external stimulus is light
Thermochromic: external stimulus is heat
Electrochromic: external stimulus is electricity
Piezochromic: external stimulus is pressure
Solvatechromic: external stimulus is liquid or gas

Probes; SKIN dresses

Philips Design has developed a series of dynamic garments as part of the ongoing SKIN exploration research into the area known as 'emotional sensing'. The garments, which are intended for demonstration purposes only, demonstrate how electronics can be incorporated into fabrics and garments in order to express the emotions and personality of the wearer.

The marvelously intricate wearable prototypes include 'Bubelle', a dress surrounded by a delicate 'bubble' illuminated by patterns that changed dependent on skin contact- and 'Frison', a body suit that reacts to being blown on by igniting a private constellation of tiny LEDs

The Magic of LucyandBart

Friday, 11 December 2009

New visions of applications to the face and body

It is very apparent (to me at least) that innovation to the face and body should partly come through the same process of engagement through visual enquiry that is used within textile innovation. My previous explorations through paper application on the face does just that, and it does not disregard other possibilities, materials or vehicles as part of the urge to seek new roads of investigation.

The video below is an example of a textiles study using Shape Memory Alloys by Lynda Fletcher, currently a student at Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design. The project was inspired by the Arctic fox and its ability to adapt to temperature changes by increasing the thickness of its coat during the cooler seasons. The textile study was an examination of how a change in temperature can affect the textiles ability to control it's "thickness" and weight.

Nomadic Wonderla

Lasercut, modular pieces of dense fabric are "snapped" together like a construction set to create fashions that suit the body as much as the interior walls that house it. Eunsuk Hur, a textile designer and a recent graduate from Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design, created Nomadic Wonderland "to push the boundaries of fashion and interior design by exploring different materials and approaches leading to new textile futures."

Again, my own interest is seeking to enquire whether this approach can be linked to cosmetic application

Heat Sensitive Fabric (Thermochromic cloth)

Memory Rich Garments
This experiment in memory rich garments consists of dresses that explore touch, embodied intimacy, and the technical implementation and construction of visually reactive substrates for manipulating use data on a textile. The conceptual framework consists of the gathering and displaying of intimate touch events but also explores social choreographies that emerge when bodies actively inhabit identical reactive costumes.

Wearable artifacts, by virtue of the fact that they are worn on the body, are a very intimate technology. Social and cultural changes are implicit in any new technology. These dresses explore the idea of wearable technologies that encourage physical touch and contribute to create embodied as opposed to virtual proximity between people.

Below are examples of the integrated shape memory alloy Nitinol in felted textile substrates to create animated structures that move or change shape over time, using resistive heating and control electronics.

SolentStylist Research Collective

Solent stylist Research Collective - exploring the construction of image in the academic and creative domain.

Sharon Lloyd - Academic/Designer

Jennifer Anyan - Academic/Stylist/Artist

Philip Clarke - Academic/Designer/Stylist

Andrew Markham - Academic/Artist

Jennifer Dayton - Make up Artist

Wednesday, 9 December 2009


Tyen, the single-named art director of Dior Cosmétiques. Vietnamese-born, the maquillage master arrived in Paris in 1970, working with the biggest photographers of the day, from Guy Bourdin to Cecil Beaton, before heading to the maison and starting a parallel career as a photographer.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Sounds exciting - but for make up?

Jonathan Saunders, Spring 2009

Silk Jersey Dress by Ali Ro ~ Zig Zag Tank by Monrow

Sound Wave Graph Chair by Matthew Plummer Fernandez

Sound Wave Bracelet by Sakurako Shimizu

Reyes, Spring 2009

James Coviello, Spring 2009

Sound Wave Cufflinks by Danielle Crampsi

Angel Sanchez, Spring 2009

Embroidered Sound Wave Art Exhibit

Sound (a compression waveform created by the vibration of an object) is commonly associated with air, but can also travel through materials -- including fabric -- when properly harnessed. In 2007, students at Cornell University were asked to "sew" body bags into couture garments using sound waves in process called ultrasonic bonding (which requires no stitching, thread, or glue).

"In the process [of ultrasonic bonding], high-frequency sound waves are converted into mechanical vibrations that are channeled through a component called a "horn," creating a rapid buildup of heat. Fabrics used must be at least 60 percent synthetic so seams can be fused together." - Science Daily

The results were so impressive that several of the student creations were chosen for the runway at the annual International Textile and Apparel Association meeting in Los Angeles. (A huge thumbs up in terms of reducing waste, but a huge thumbs down considering that fabric must be at least 60% synthetic for this process to work. *sigh*) Fast forward to the present, and sound waves are once again making their presence known. But instead of remaining an invisible force behind the scenes, actual sound wave patterns appear to be the inspiration for many designers.

Monday, 7 December 2009

More Alex Box

I am beginning to question why it is that fashion stylists, make up artists, artists and designers are focusing so much on new ways of addressing the body through cosmetic application. Perhaps it is that the only way to interrogate and subvert the stereotyping of accepted norms of beauty is to deconstruct it from within, that is, by adopting several visual fashion politics of representation. This has resulted in multiple representation of the cosmetic body: re-mapping and re-inventing it in new ways. More often than not, this re-mapping has taken the form of a narrative told explicitly within the domain of the body as a site of pleasure and sensuality while avoiding gender distinctions.

The body - the most visible and real site of identity - is naturally the single unifying thread for all the artists and designers I have acknowledged so far within my blog. Cosmetics, fashion and clothing are a second source of identity formation ( as well as identity erasure). I think what I am arguing for is a new understanding of cosmetics, one that is not rooted in fashion.

Above all, these make up artists, artists and designers are challenging the stereotypical and normalising images of women in the media, and the unnattainable, narrow and male-defined standards of beauty by creating new beauty ideals.