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"Changing the System" Project


WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY


Sunday, December 10, 2017

 

WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY

Our clothes are probably some of the most tactile and flexible objects surrounding us – touching our bodies at all times. This is probably also why it has been such a hard job for designers and researchers to combine it with the stiff mechanics of technology. The term used when these fields are combined is Wearable Technology. Something that fashion designer Pauline van Dongen has been known internationally for exploring. But while Pauline van Dongens works primarily exist in the span of the human body interacting with its physical surroundings, I find it more interesting to research how technology can elevate our identity through clothing.

 

We use technology to perform our identities online.

We use fashion to perform our identities through garments.

Why not try to physically combine technology with clothes as a way of enhancing how we showcase our individuality and uniqueness.

 

“For wearable technologies to become truly integrated with fashion we have to bridge the divide between aesthetics and how we understand technology’s usefulness.” – Pauline van Dongen

 

 

FASHIONABLE TECHNOLOGY

It is obvious that clothes functions as a protective extension of the skin, but it is just as important that they help us form our individual identities. Our identities are ‘wearable’ and changeable through fashion, and have been so for a long time now. The new aspect of adding technology to this equation will hopefully be able to offer alternative and new ways of transforming our identities.

At the moment, there is already a lot of researching going on and a lot of solutions being proposed as to how wearable technology can change our current view of fashion. This research does not only include experiments like Pauline van Dongen’s, regarding the practical usefulness of technology in fashion, but can also have a more conceptual or aesthetic focus point. These projects become interesting since this is where a lot of the ‘identity-making’ in fashion occurs.

Ying Gao is another fashion designer dealing with the concept of technology intertwining with her designs. But in comparison to Pauline van Dongen she uses technology primarily for conceptual and aesthetic reasons. However, this still works in-between the human body and its surroundings, and doesn’t allow the wearer itself to manipulate his/her clothing. Something I think would be a logical next step with wearable technology.

Other research exemplifies how this self-initiated interaction might become possible. Several companies are working on inventions involving textile – such as touch-screen fabric. I find this study interesting because it is the steppingstone for making fashion truly customizable at any time. And not only by the external domain of a phone or computer, but by actual interaction with the textiles you put on your body. This idea of technology leading to a more tactile and touchable communication with your clothes – instead of it being dematerialized in a device – also takes technology in a totally new direction.

 

 

INDIVIDUAL TECHNOLOGY

Of course there is plenty of ways to approach linking the gap between aesthetics and the function of technology. Personally, I would find it interesting to see a solution where the link would manifest in news ways of projecting my personal identity. Combining the idea of a, supposedly soon-to-be, future where textiles can act as touch-screens, I have tried to conceptualize how technology can have an effect on fashion and its personal value.

 

DESIGNTHEORY2

Here I have made a video that visualizes this: Min film 7

 

 

There is no doubt that technological innovations will have a deep impact on the meaning and communication of fashion and thereby identity.

“[…] we have now entered an age in which technology is not only a bodily extension, but also a physical improvement, enhancement and expression.”

Throughout your life your identity is constantly changing, so it seems only logical to design new types of clothing that can follow your personal development. As my video suggests, this would be possible if clothing became truly obedient to your personal wishes and could be customized with your own hands. You could then at any given moment change the appearance of your clothing – and your identity. Although my experiment is limited to colors and patterns, you could imagine that even shape or texture could be transformable too, with the rate technology is developing.

Indeed, this way of customizing your style is already possible, but at the expense of a fast, unsustainable and trend-driven industry. If my (suggestive) model of wearable technology is realized, I believe that this would establish an intimate dialogue between body, mind and fabric – making fashion more valuable to the wearer. It is the relationship you have with your clothes and how it mirrors your personality and emotions, I find interesting to develop further with technology.

Pauline van Dongen’s vision is based on the belief that technology can add new value and meaning to fashion. She does this while focusing on the human body and an interactive relation to its surroundings. I believe, that it is just as important how wearable technology can add an interactive level to our projection of ourselves, and change our relationship with fashion on a very personal level.

 

 

Community to change the system


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Dave Hakkens creates machines to recycle plastic. The concept Precious Plastic is that everywhere, everybody can build themselves these machines and recycle their plastics. For me, the most interesting point in this concept is the community around it. He says

“To start up an idea is a powerful tool to use these days. A designer is able to bring people together by just sharing an idea or a potential solution.”

 

Dave Hakkens and his projects are accessible in two points.

Most of his design projects are often provides with open-source instruction videos and blueprints, so it is presenting as a do it yourself project. You can inform yourself, make your own machine or your design object, share on social network, and use it. Make and use these projects is to be active to change the system, and be a designer as well.

Furthermore, he is very active on social networks. On Youtube (with 122 000 followers), he often published videos to clearly explain his projects, how to make it etc. But also he has a certain way of life that you can clearly see in his videos called Story Hopper. Some links: here and

here.

If I had the opportunity to talk to Dave, I will ask him if he thinks that in addition to this solution to reduce plastics wastes we also must have to adopt a minimalist and zero waste attitude. And the answer is manifestly yes. These videos fit perfectly with the sharing of opinions and go further in the ideas that he wants to give. He offers more than just designer content while playing with the border of social network influencers.

Also on his website, you can find the forum where you can talk with people around the world. It’s nice to see all these people who said « I want to recycle plastics but I don’t know where to start » Finally I understood that in this big community, some other little communities are created to make projects easier. On the topic, someone answer: « try to find people, and build an association or something with many people to reduce costs!»

 

bojimansV3 Exhibition during the Dutch Design Week 

 

I am wondering how this concept can grow and evolve in the rest of the world. Are social media enough to share his ideas? The definition of the word community by the Oxford dictionary is: “the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common“. Dave Hakkens and his projects are accessible for those who know him and who share the same interests. Plastic machines were at first introduced in a museum as an exhibition. So a certain public is interested to see it and in this kind of place, it doesn’t have the same purpose. It is difficult to apply something that you just saw in a museum. You can maybe just except to have a discussion but not really a revolution. What effect would he have if he presents his project in a hardware store? 

I knew Dave Hakkens thanks to my sculpture class at the Rietveld Academie. Indeed, some students were able to create one of the plastic machine, the injection machine. I spoke with one of these students and she gave me an interesting reflection: « He says that everyone can build those machines, it works for us because we are in art school, so we have all the materials needed and we always can find a way to be creative with the plastic machine, but not sure it’s the same in poorer countries, because it has a cost and maybe they did not hear about the Precious Plastic project»

 

PLASTIC MACHINEInjection machine in the Rietveld

 

Dave Hakkens went in 2015 to Ganah for research. Also just a few weeks ago, he shipped a big container to the Maldives, to clean ocean. It is important because “the risk” of this way of building plastic machines is to build them for a personal use or very restrained, as the weekend handyman in his garage. But create this container, place of many workshops to recycle plastics can expand the utilization. Indeed, it can not be an activity in its own right, but it should really be part of our way of life and as we can not spend our time recycling plastic, we may wonder if this community of active people is enough? What about the big industries? In fact, there is a start-up called The Plastik Bank which collaborates with the big industries. Plastic waste that invades the poorer regions of the world is collected by local people and then sold to companies that recycle it. But finally, Dave Hakkens gives the opportunity to communities to create something with plastic, be autonomous in the research and then win money (if they decide to). It is really like build something new, maybe a new society.

 

To say goodbye: very interesting article on other people who tried to find solutions for plastic wastes. 

A waste of fashion


Thursday, November 30, 2017

It was probably about a year ago that I passed by my friend while she was making a rug out of old clothes, when I asked her why, she explained to me that there is an overabundance of textiles in the world. She told me about how this is actually starting to become a problem, so she was trying to find a new purpose for left over textiles or old clothes. It was an issue that never really occurred to me before but immediately caught my attention because it’s so obvious if you think about it. 

The attitude that people have towards clothing has changed, fashion trends move quick, every year there are new collections from every brand, stores filled monthly, or even weekly. And we all buy into it. The average person buys 60% more garments that last half a year compared to fifteen years ago. The way of production has changed as well, the materials are cheaper and made not to last very long. Next to that the production has inflated massively, according to Greenpeace the production has doubled from the year 2000 to 2014 and the number of garments exceeded 100 billion by 2014. A lot of clothes that are being made don’t even make it to the shops, they were made to have enough in stock even though the shops are often overstocked already. The clothes that don’t sell fast go into sale, but 4,2% stays behind after the sale. That doesn’t sound like much but we’re talking about 21,5 million new pieces of clothing, from which 1,23 million pieces get destroyed. They get burned in ovens or shredded because they don’t want these clothes to be used or resold. 

Next to the overproduction of the fashion industry, we have our fair share of throwing away textiles as well, the average person throws away about thirty kilos of clothing per year, this is roughly eight trash bags a year, even though 95% of the clothes we chug away is still reusable. Not only the clothes that get thrown away cause problems but donation in some cases as well. The clothes that are donated to charity and can’t get sold in charity shops are shipped off to third world countries. In some of those countries, here it gets sold for so cheap that the local tailors can’t compete anymore and have to go out of business

The waste that the left over and thrown away textile produce is polluting the environment and is practically toxic waste. Since the clothes are produced so cheaply the fabrics are often synthetic and the dyes are toxic. The clothes that get burned release a lot of chemicals in the air. The clothes that get thrown away  often end up in landfills. Since they’re not biodegradable they just keep staggering up, causing an environmental hazard. The textiles chemicals and toxins get absorbed by the soil, polluting both the surface and the ground water. It also releases methane into the air which contributes to global warming.

So now what do we do? What can we do about this? There might be a few options. One of them is instead of throwing away the old clothes that we’re sick of, or never wear anymore, remake them into something new. This is what for example Viktor and Rolf did for the Boulevard of Broken Dreams collection of 2017. They used pieces and materials of left over material, pieces and damaged items of previous collections.

 

 

design theory waste 3  design theory waste 2  design theory waste 1

 

And Italian company Marchi & Fildi turns old fabrics, in this case pre-dyed cotton textile scraps that are left over in the fashion companies to make a new recycled yarn, Ecotech. But also the company Evrnu found a way to turn cotton waste into a new fiber, by first turning it into a pulp. With these approaches cotton waste is being saved and a new durable material is created for fashion designers to work with.

 

It makes me happy to see that there are several initiatives that try to find small solutions to this problem, but I think this is an issue that deserves way more attention. What I talked about here is just a small part, the textile industry is after the oil industry the most wasteful industry. The damage is unbelievable, on environmental but also on a social level. Andrew Morgan made an incredible documentary about this subject called ‘The True Cost’ that I would definitely recommend. I hope we can find a way to stop this problem before it’s too late. I think awareness of the problem is the first step and I hope that now people are becoming aware, we can take the next one. To help you start I will leave you with some tips from the Oxford City Council to make your clothes last longer.

 

construction work or art?


Thursday, November 30, 2017

listen to me while you read

“You need to create possibilities to store the water when there is a lot of rain and release it when there isn’t enough of it. “So why not incorporate this idea in our habitat in a visually attractive way?” Jolan van der Wiel

Jolan van der Wiel made a bench that looks fragile, pretty, put on display in the museum a meter above the ground. Took me a while even to understand that this is meant for sitting. It’s far from practical, storing only a very small amount of water, has no cooling system and probably breaks/bends under pressure. This bench is not made for sitting OR storing water.

If Jolan wants to bring people ‘closer’ to useful resource management systems via introducing them in a visually attractive way, he should start from the other end of the process. Start with what is already there in our daily urban lives but we never notice it as anything else but practically necessary objects or systems.

What if we could bring people closer to resource management systems. Rather than starting from the aesthetic point of view, we should start from the practical side, start from acknowledging these technical solutions that are very well-thought through, and show them a something aesthetic, show them as something that people can appreciate. As for now, our goal in building and city management is to hide all the arrangements that make our life comfortable, easier, cleaner. All the pipes are hidden underneath the streets or in our walls. We are almost always reaching to hide everything that is evidence of how things work. It’s almost as if we didn’t really want to understand how the water gets into the tap, how come I have light in my room even when it’s dark outside, or how I don’t freeze to death in the winter. It’s kind of a taboo, but I think it should be more approachable. We don’t have to be engineers to understand or realise that there is so much effort put into everything we take advantage from in our daily lives.

What is hidden in our houses, underneath and between the walls? Construction workers might seem the opposite of artists, but they have something surprising to offer. Just look at these cord routing systems. They could easily be contemporary sculptures, worth a substantial amount of money. It could also be done in different ways, allowing the system engineer to be creative.

I would propose us to no longer hide these actually kind of beautiful construction systems. They are visually pleasing. We could allow an engineer to get closer to the regular user/person, to make them appreciate both art and construction work. I would love to see what’s in my walls or underneath my feet. I don’t think it’s ugly, or that it should be hidden.

 

this is not a modern art sculpture. this is a circuit breaker panel for water, meant for managing the plumbing system in your house.

This is not a modern art sculpture. this is a circuit breaker panel for water, meant for managing the plumbing system in your house.

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This is a floor heating system.

Ayse Erkmen, Plan B, Turkish Pavilion, Venice 2011

Here’s a work from Ayse Erkmen, who made an installation from water purification units with extended pipes and cables. Her project transforms a room into a complex water purification unit where machines perform as sculptures, encompassing the audience inside of the filtration process which eventually provides clean, drinkable water back to the canal.

 

Since Berlin was founded in a very swampy area the ground-water level is actually quite high in Berlin, in the city center it often starts very close to the surface. Which means that whenever there is a new building being constructed in the center, the foundations reach into the water and the construction site is constantly flooded by the ground-water. Of course this water has to be pumped away constantly, which is done via those pink pipes! If you follow the pipes to one end you will always get to a construction site like this one here on Leipziger Platz. If you follow them to other end you will always get to a canal, the river or they’ll disappear into the canalisation.

These pink funky pipes are not an art piece, but used to pump water away from a building construction site. They can be found all over Berlin. If you follow the pipes to one end you will always get to a construction site. If you follow them to other end you will always get to a canal, the river or they’ll disappear into the canalisation.

Exactitudes


Thursday, November 30, 2017

I chose this project because I find really interesting how every human in the world even the most peculiar looking ones can be catalogued in a group. It always intrigued me how much you can express with clothing and where are the borders between being unique or just following fashion. The photographer Ari Verluis and the stylist Ellie Uyttenbroek have been working in the project Exactitudes for more than twenty years, the name of this project is a fusion of “exact” and “attitudes”.

01--Gabbers-Rotterdam-1994

Vetements which was also in the exhibition Change Makers used Ari and Elli’s work as an inspiration for the autumn/winter 2017 collection. This underscores the critique of the fashion world. After the collection was online big chains started copying it. This open really important questions about actual fashion.

The presentation of the photos they take are always the same, a grid of three by four, making it almost a catalogue of types of persons where you could find your urban tribe.

Exactitudes started in Rotterdam but actually they work all over the world. It analyses how depending on your surroundings your style will be different. They say sense of style is something you’re born with, using as an example the kids who use school uniform, the ones that even wearing the same exact thing make a little difference like wearing a chain or rolling up his sleeves.

This project is not that much about fashion but more about people and it really has an anthropological quality that it’s admirable because slowly it’s documenting the changes in society thru the years and how some factors like social media.

 

To understand better and interpret my subject I decided to recreate Exactitudes but with a twist: doing it on Tinder. Tinder is a dating app where you swipe left or right if you like the profile of the person or not.

cat owners

cat owners

 

In the profile you create, you are able to post four photos where you have to sell yourself. You can also write about you, (but no one reads that). This dating app works visually. The pictures you post will make you have a match or a sad love life with no matches at all.

In the interview for the catalogue, Ari talks about the process of finding/collecting people and how they just sit in the street and wait for the right person to pass by. For me that process was more active, I first had to find which group I wanted to categorize. As soon as you start using the app similitudes between the users pop up, and even though you can’t take photos of them with a white background and the same pose, when I arranged the screenshots in grids it was impressive to see how similar the photos were.

 

dog filter

dog filter

 

The research I made wasn’t that much about clothing, but there’s something in common with clothing and the images you post on Tinder to introduce yourself. They both are talking about you without words. You want to reflect your personality with them, it’s like a mute introduction of yourself.

 

soccer players

soccer players

 

Probably the people I put together in some of the grids won’t think they belong to the same urban tribe. I focused more on the attitudes they reflect on their profiles more than on what they wear. For example the soccer players, by making the choice of introducing themselves with a photo of  them playing this sport place them in an idea of the kind of person they can be. The same exact thing would happen if someone shaved his head and wore a bomber, these decisions reflect a statement of who they are or how they want to be seen.

 

world saviors

world saviors

 

World saviors is another example of how with a single image you can make a strong statement. They try to sell their person and reflect how merciful and helpful they are with the most needed ones. This could not be shown with clothing,

 

Now that Tinder and other social media platforms are opening opportunities for people to give the image they want to show of themselves is time for a new Exactitudes, but now on the virtual world.

 

barbies

barbies

Change the system, a consequence or a cause?


Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Change the System show left a feeling of good-willingness. A presentation of their good-willingness towards the world, and how they want to change the system with the use of their work. With this the show can be placed on a long list of strongly socially-engaged exhibitions. Going with the hype is one thing, but using your work as a tool to change things is another. This has everything to do with the relationship between the work and the maker, in relation to the work itself. When I came to discover that Martin Margiela is known for, besides of course his designs, his strong opinion on the importance of the separation between creation and creator, I knew that this would be a subject that I would like to address in relation to the show in the Boijmans.

In the changemaker show was a strongly visible parting between the participants; those who want to use their work to change the system and those who change the system as a consequence of their work. This was something I could immediately feel when seeing the work.

By giving a work a certain expectation, a goal, the central point, as it were, drifts towards a purpose and away from the work itself. You will always end up with following the ethic, the moral. Because of that the end result is always limited, it will be something you already know, something everybody already knows. In a way propaganda. For me, the function of an artwork can be connected to the function of a dream. This raises the question: what do you get from a morally correct dream?

That is the reason why it is so tricky to use art or design, if you want to make that distinction, to reach a certain goal. Reaching for a certain goal, apart from the work itself, is like starting from the opposite direction: first the shape is made, where later is made an attempted to insert a tenor. But in the end it feels like only a shell remains, which never had a content. Richard Serra made a clear comment about this issue when he was told that his work was not socially engaged enough; “art doesn’t need justification from outside”. To go a step further, you will kill the power of an artwork by making it justificational.

The motivation of doing this can be multiple things; with a lot of these kind of socially-engaged artists their own ego plays a big role, in the sense of: yes, also I am concerned about global warming and the extinction of all kind of animals. And others have financial motivations; one way to have a lot of shows these days is by presenting yourself as the engaged artist. This became clear when doing some general research into the participants, an image-search on the participants, no works came up, just the nice promotion pictures of their faces. Is it for creator about making a good chair, or is it more about other things and is the chair just a tool/consequence of those things? And how important is your work to you if you put you self in front of it?

4f04f311c7c7ecacff7489cc899caffb--deconstruction-fashion-maison-martin-margiela c1339e911984d60cc21cd776fc644dbc--moda-fashion-fashion-week

Martin Margiela also saw this; at a certain point in his career he decided not to talk to the press anymore and not to appear in public again. For some the statement was simply seen as an advertising stunt, but Margiela did not care about that, it was the content of the interviews that bothered him. For him, interviews had to be about the collection, not about Margiela the person. Only what he created was of importance, only that, not the man or goal behind it, the work stands on his own.

Margiela did things that were never done before, but not because he wanted to be a changemaker. Margiela’s works are ground-breaking, because of the steps he took he found necessary for his work. With this Margiela belongs to the other kind of participants in this show. The contribution of these artists and designers made the exhibition interesting as a whole. With the changemaker show, the Boijmans van Beuningen makes, consciously or unconsciously, a clarifying distinction in a long tradition of border-seeking artists.

James Bridle – The Anicons


Wednesday, November 29, 2017
 
“as an artist and activist, James Bridle 1980 shows the impact of the techno-surveillance society we live in. He has converted data collected with a spy camera for his project The Right to Flight to create a kaleidoscopic animation. As a protest against this ruthless technology, he has made unusable images.” – Change Makers
 
 Skærmbillede 2017-11-29 kl. 17.10.34
 

I have always been really interested in how our community has become an  surveillance-community, the way we store images, knowledge and numbers in our cloud, for instance. How you can find an answer to nearly anything in the “cloud”. How our focus has moved from the physical to the not physical – metaphysical. How Apple would be able to place you at a crime scene if you are owner and user of an iphone with finger and face recognition. The norm is to tolerate that without questioning.

I think James Bridles project is interesting because he’s making those data unusable, data that is highly important in the way we are interfering and meeting each other today. Data which is not physical any more but have a high value in its metaphysical form.

I did a project earlier this year about how we began in some contexts to weigh the aesthetics higher then the function, and in some cases the understanding as well. And I think what James Bridle is doing can be understated in a similar way.

When you see graphical displays of books, posters or clothes etc., you begin to see a rhythm of incomprehensible elements, repeatedly one sees that a particular artist or designer chooses to use aesthetic elements like the Russian, Greek and Arabic alphabet as bearer of language. Some choose to use barcodes or gothic letters, ornaments that are clearly from another time, then the context it is viewed – used in. It is now only a matter of creating an aesthetically beautiful product, the recipient is now 100% uncritical and chooses only on behalf of aesthetics.

If you see Comme des Garcons for instance, they made a collab with russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy. In this colab there were t-shirts, hoodies etc with a text in russian. I see people wearing this without knowing anything about the meaning of the selection of letters, they are only wearing it for the aesthetics and the fact that it’s popular.

 

 

Skærmbillede 2017-12-10 kl. 20.14.07

 

The connection I see between these two is that people of today’s society, the post internet generation, have such easy access to awareness – information, facts, news etc, that we have to some extent, stopped caring about it. We are choosing, consciously or unconsciously, what to be aware of and what we want to care about.

Even though both Bridles footage and Comme des Garcons/Rubchinskiys design with the language/letters is filled with important and valuable information, the finished product in these projects is only an abstract form. Roughly said, we are ignoring the value in this information and only choosing to see the abstract result that gives us aesthetic pleasure.


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