Wearables, Week 2: Forming an Idea
Doing a 180
I was struggling with my previous ideas…while I liked them in certain ways, nothing was really sticking. I started thinking back to other projects I’ve been working on and realized I’ve been very interested in this idea of tracking, emitting personal data, surveillance/sousveillance as well as unseen signals, waves of communication that carry voices and action. How can we disrupt and intervene?
I read this piece today on the New inquiry and one thing that resonated with me was this feeling that surveillance is so pervasive that it seems banal, that our feelings of powerlessness translate into acceptance and inactivity.
“I think most people truly expect to be anonymous in public,” Jennifer Lynch, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Motherboard recently. Anonymity is a crucial element of public spaces and communication, she argues, and allows us to freely participate in a democratic society. “[When people] are being watched,” she said, “it chills their behavior—it chills who they will associate with, how they will act, and what they will say. That’s not a society I want to live in or raise my son in.” (http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/last-minute-costume-that-makes-your-face-illegible-to-computers)
Many wearables on the market today are made to track data, but what if we create a wearable that interferes with the already ubiquitous tracking that is taking place in our daily lives?
When I was researching surveillance last semester I came across Adam Harvey’s project CV Dazzle. He used make up and hair designs to disrupt facial detection software. The idea is to create an ‘anti-face’. But Harvey’s piece relies on physical choices, such as dying/cutting hair and applying make-up in specific ways. Is there something that can be taken on and off. I’d also be interested in incorporating some kind of signal jamming hardware or other disruption techniques.
I’m imagining something that can be gender-neutral, with the ability to morph in shape, so could go from something more “normal” looking to something more obviously disorienting and glitchy. I’d imagine that it would take the form of a hat, or scarf/cowl. It would need to be all-weather and fashionable so that people would be interested in wearing it at any occasion. I imagine primarily a user in an urban setting.
In terms of aesthetics I’m looking at accordion-style folded fabrics and veils. Both of these have the ability of covering and receding when necessary. I like the femininity of the veil, but I want to think more about how it can be adopted in a gender-neutral way.
Here’s my new mood board:
Renata just told me about the artist Ying Gao who responsive clothing pieces. This got me thinking, instead of the wearer activating the transition from being seen to being hidden, that something akin to the process in the under(a)ware -his and hers underwear designed to sense hidden Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Tag readers and alert the wearer to their presence by activating small vibrators sewn into bras and boxer shorts in strategic locations. So, I could embed an RFID tag reader into the pieces and have them animate to hide the wearer when signals are present.