artaWEARness IIX (2008)

Running Time: 2 minutes 55 seconds

ArtaWEARness is a wearable art extravaganza/fashion show that is organized by the Alberta College of Art + Design Students' Association (ACADSA) every year. Held in the main-mall of the Alberta College of Art + Design, the event draws hundreds of people to see what new and unique wearable creations have been concocted by a selected group of students. In 2008, for the 8th iteration of artaWEARness, I was fortunate to be chosen to exhibit together with my collaboration partner, fibre artist Stefanie Wong.

artaWEARness (2008), photo by Jasmin Dosanj artaWEARness (2008) artaWEARness (2008)

development

ArtaWEARness IIX was the impetus for my initial exploration into the world of craft and how it can remediate aspects of new media and vice versa. Collaborating closely with Stefanie, we worked diligently to create two garments for the 'art-fashion' show that borrowed expertise from both our backgrounds. The goal was to create a seamless marriage of our two disciplines — her dexterity with making handmade fabrics and wooden armatures together with my proficiency using programmable microcontrollers and electronic circuits (a nice reconciling of very old media and very new media). In effect, with this partnership, we were seeking an experience of immediacy where viewers would not realise technology was present in the process of the garments' creation. The appearance that these handmade objects were living organisms of themselves (moving and glowing) in a symbiotic relationship with the body was important to us. Illusion was not our motivator. We wanted these objects to be real.

artaWEARness (2008) artaWEARness (2008) artaWEARness (2008)
artaWEARness (2008) artaWEARness (2008) artaWEARness (2008)

From the initial planning stage, biology and the study of how animals (as well as plants) interact and react with their environment were influential to how we organized our ideas. Concepts of the subconscious as expressed through the body (like blushing and the tightening of muscles when under stress) were also of particular interest. An understanding of these concepts to the creation of the garments, however, was not critical to the reading of the performance. Likewise, an understanding of the process to integrate technology into the garments was not critical to the reading. It is at this juncture, though, where traditional material meets modern technology that I see many possibilities for craft and new media working together — a path I only began to scratch the surface of with artaWEARness.

technology

  • Parallax BASIC
  • Basic Stamp I & II microcontrollers
  • Conductive thread
  • Surface mount LEDS
  • Gear head DC motors
  • Custom circuit drivers