Re: Wearable Technologies: Cross Disciplinary Ventures.

In response to some of the things that have been discussed to date, I think 
now, in the context of wearable technologies (where we are considering the 
internal and external architectures and augmentation of the body) that it is 
perhaps less interesting to talk about the notion of the ‘spectacle’ where the 
main concern is to create memorable appearance (unless perhaps this is to 
convey message as discussed below in Wonderland example) and to turn our gaze 
more fully to ‘Human-Garment Interactions’ (David Bryson) and the importance of 
both physical and digital materiality where we look to augment the senses 
through a better understanding of both the technological, material and 
inter/intra psychological dimensions.
Textile and garment technologies now have the capabilities to augment the body 
both inside and out, textiles repair bulging arteries (stents) for instance to 
offer a patching and compression for damaged systems when the body can no 
longer effectively function or sustain itself. This type of compression can 
also be exerted externally for post-operative garments to encourage the flow of 
lymphatics and aid recovery. In a military context for the compression 
category, we have specially designed inflatable suits for fighter pilots to 
combat the effects of G-force. 

All this requires a superb knowledge of the human body, its biological, 
structural architectures, functioning systems, capabilities under duress etc. 
Fashion designers usually do not have this knowledge and I have often found in 
my many years of being a fashion designer / educator that fashioners designers 
and students will rarely pay detailed attention to the human body from a 
structural, movement and functioning point of view. Their questions always have 
focused on the design aesthetics generally, as suitable for a standard size 
10-12 body and so we often find that a new design trend, silhouette etc., will 
in fact govern the movement of the body in the garment so as to train the body 
as opposed to allowing a two-way exchange.

Through my own work, with dancers within digital performance contexts, I employ 
a more chorographic approach to design of wearable for performer, where 
co-creation and iterative design methods are key. My design approach combines 
the practical and physical with the theoretical and philosophical. But 
generally, I like to introduce the materials and technologies as initiators of 
design concepts and motivational tools for movement. Over the years, I have 
questioned the static and essentially anatomically uninformed fashion design 
process to employ more dynamic and scientific approaches to design. In a way, 
my design process has also become more closely aligned with that of the product 
designer with prototyping and refinement of Human-Garment Interactions, but 
primarily, I see myself as a choreographer re-writing body and garment in 
emergent design-in-motion contexts.

David Bryson, University of Derby, UK, who lectures in forensic science and has 
a background in studies of anatomy, posits the need for closer Human-Garment 
Interaction in his essay on ‘Designing Smart Clothing for the Body’ in the book 
‘Smart Clothes and Wearable Technology.’ He acknowledges that ‘there is now 
wide understanding in the computer industry of what is termed Human-Computer 
Interactions (HCI), the design of interfaces looking at the way humans interact 
with technology… This work now needs to move into the realm of garments to lead 
an appreciation of what I am terming Human-Garment Interactions (HGI).’
For me, the garments and their integrated technologies can be like extensions 
of the natural sensing body. ‘We use instruments as an extension of our hands 
and they may serve also as an extension of our senses. We assimilate them to 
our body by pouring ourselves into them…’ 
Michael Polanyi, The Study of Man (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), 
p. 25.
Experiential wearing and its impact on the design process is also a growing 
area of interest in the realm of garment /fashion design and the notion of 
creating a better understanding of the emotional connections between wearer and 
On Literature and communication:
One of my MA Fashion Bodywear students, (I run a small MA practice-based design 
programme exploring the fusions between intimate apparel and outerwear design 
at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK) wrote in her final thesis 
(unpublished) on the subject of emotional wearing and commented on the 
traditions that have generally existed in the discipline giving reference to 
the spectacle, saying:
Fashion theory has generally focused on the relationship between consumer and 
clothing in the sense of the ‘seen’ garment. Writings are extensively concerned 
with the notions of identity and portrayal of oneself through the adornment of 
the body and of the self. Consumerism of clothing is inextricably linked with 
external communication of personality, being either real or false, to fit in 
with the surroundings and the social acceptances of the location of the wearer… 
Subsequently, it could be suggested that the person who adorns their body with 
these garments would be aware of this fact and is therefore subject to the 
judgement inflicted upon them by the gaze of others…
Nicola Williamson, MA Fashion Bodywear graduate 2010.
One can most definitely argue that Chalayan’s video dress is all about the 
‘seen’ garment and the notion of the spectacle with its opening and closing 
rose displayed via 15000 LEDs… His laser dress and also his transformer dresses 
explore the creation of memorable appearance as they shapeshift through various 
fashion silhouettes of C20th fashion. But these dresses are not for the 
commercial world of fashion or for the everyday wear but explore new 
possibilities, blurring of boundaries and new ways of attracting attention as 
they are picked up by the trendhunters of this world.
Prof. Helen Storey’s Wonderland collaboration with chemist Tony Ryan also 
explores spectacle but of a slightly different nature in their dissolvable 
eco-fashion dresses. In fact, they are exploring spectacle and memorable but 
dissolving appearance within a performative context to convey to the world more 
serious messages about our world and the importance of closer fashion science 
connections. Interestingly, when I attended a joint presentation by Storey and 
Ryan, each was approaching the collaboration for very different reasons, 
Storey, to abandon the frivolous superficiality of fashion and become more 
serious, Ryan, to find a way to publicly display science and make visible what 
is not always apparent. These kind of public scientific displays are not new 
however but perhaps have not been explored so much recently. I recall my 
intrigue on hearing about the historic public display of experiment with 
electricity in the 1800’s when a young boy’s body was negatively charged so as 
to attract thousands of positively charged feathers which would then cling to 
his suspended body…Suzanne Lee’s biocouture introduced earlier in these 
discussions clearly falls into this fashion-science fusion and perhaps in a 
more wearable sense (although still dissolvable in water) allows the presence 
of the physical and material artefact/garment to convey and tackle the more 
serious issues of our world under threat.

With regards,
Michèle Danjoux
empyre forum

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