PComp, Week 12 – Final: Semaphore Jacket
I want to make a rain jacket that has LED semaphore flags sewn onto the sleeves. I’ve been thinking a lot about the refugee crisis, and the recent email to the ITP4SC got me thinking about how we can design things…. In my brainstorm I thought about how refugees and their allies are trying to communicate the idea of “we come in peace” and the different ways one could non-verbally illustrate that…like the act of waving a white flag. Communicating with flags reminded me of semaphors, which seems somewhat appropriate given that most refugees are crossing via boats and it’s a maritime communication form. I did some research and found out that the peace sign actually came from the semaphor letters N and D (for nuclear disarmament), circumscribed by a circle. I also learned that semaphore is a programming term relating to control of access – quite appropriate, given the current discussions surrounding quotas – or straight up refusal to let refugees into a country.
The jacket would have the flags at the bottom of the sleeves, so a person could move their arms to communicate in semaphore. The LEDs are off unless the switch is turned on, which I’m thinking about doing with a zipper pull or a snap.
Obviously, this is not necessarily the best design or object for someone living through this predicament. I more see it as a symbolic way to speak to the current situation, the difficulties we still encounter with communication/understanding, which I found leads to a lack of empathy for those we see as “others”. Semaphores is a sort of ridiculous way to actually communicate, yet if we think about crossing over into a foreign land – perhaps universal, visual languages can be a tool.
Something about the jacket feels like it could work as a costume for a performance piece…rows or people in a public space doing choreographed semaphore messages about peace.