“Technology can connect us with our environment, not alienate us from the world.” – Benhaz Farahi
(March 27, 2015) – Cross Campus, Santa Monica CA
A sea of cell phones and computer screens is often perceived as a sign of a technological society pressing ever forward with increasing feelings of loneliness and isolation. Last night, MindShare LA proved otherwise. The event FashionTech, led by Experience Director Douglas Campbell, hosted four female role-models each of whom are redefining how fashion blends with technology to react to our bodies and surroundings. The event was curated by Anouk Wipprecht, a Dutch based fashion-tech designer and innovator.
The event was packed with people in the same head space including developers from Daqri Smart Helmet, an augmented virtual reality company with the motto “The Future of Work is Here.” The idea for the helmet was actually conceived of a few years prior at a MindShare event, and it gives an example of how tangible and revolutionary is the budding industry. The helmet is a real-time, contextual 4D content hands-free wearable HD display positioned beneath a protective visor. It is augmented reality for industrial environments. Imagine walking around with the ability to see in infrared and spot steam leaks… The audience alone kicked it off not as an abstract and removed exercise but something that is indeed changing the world.
Anouk Wipprecht (NL, fashiontech designer)
Syuzi Pakhchyan (L.A, fashioningtech.com)
Tiffany Trenda (L.A, new media performance artist)
Behnaz Farahi (L.A, interaction designer)
Anouk Wipprecht presented her work with the insightful words: “We are curious creatures about everything that happens around us, especially here in LA.”
Her creation ‘Spider Dress’ responds to external stimuli to defend the personal space of the wearer. The dress utilizes proximity and respiration sensors to determine if someone approaches the wearer too aggressively which causes the mechanical limbs to assume an attack position. If the dress and human sensor feedback suggests otherwise, the dress might beckon instead. It is enabled by Intel-Edison. Anouk’s ‘Synapse’ dress is also Intel-Edison based. The dress reveals the wearers mental state, logs mood, and monitors behavior.
Syuzi Pakhchyan is Intel’s Technologist in Residence at Art Center College of Design. Her research suggests that something is missing. Wearables end up in a drawer in three months. Why does this happen? When the novelty rubs off and the result is a disjointed experience, the experience ends. According to Syuzi, there is no difference between the software and the hardware experience of a product. There must be a marriage between the two for a cohesive product design. A good example is the Nike Fuel, which tracks a person’s energy not sleep or steps. Syuzi reminded the audience to ask why wearables matter. Her final message was: “Have a story point-of-view and tell a story.”
Key topical areas were:
- Measure Myself & Monitor Others
- Document My Days & Broadcast My Life
- Augment My Body & Make Me Superhuman
- Express Who I am
- Alert Me to What Matters Most
- Unlock My World & Personalize My Experience
Syuzi brought the audience through a wonderful collection of fashion-tech including:
- Withings Activite
- Being by Zensorium
- SnapCam (Ion)
- Whiskas Catstacam
- Tzoa by Woke Studios
- Hug Shirt by CuteCircuit
- Ballentines T-Shirt OS by Switch Embassy
- Apple Watch
- Altruis by Kovert Designs
- Disney Magic Band
Yes, Whiskas Catstacam is a wearable collar for cats which enables them to post pictures to Instagram… Syuzi’s blog has a great video collection for the tech behind the fashion.
Tiffany Trenda is a new media performance artist that is very interested in our human relationship to screens. Her interactive performances worldwide from Vienna to New York Times Square confront our possible alienation due to technology. Her live performances with screens investigate the intimate places which are now in the public domain. The exhibit ‘Body Code at Times Square’ was an experiment in scanning, touching, and interacting with her human body via numerous touch screens. In Times Square, she realized, astonishingly, that people are “more interested in their cell phones” than the human body.
Tiffany’s work includes:
- Entropy 2009 at the LA County Museum of Art
- Body Code 2012
- Body Code & Times Square
- Proximity Cinema
Tiffany’s newest piece is ‘Ubiquitous States’ which incorporates poetry in a way that measures the physical versus the virtual. Tiffany summed up our relationship with technology and need to continue visceral feeling with a quote from Jean Baudrillard:
“We live in a world where there is more and more information and less and less meaning.”
Behnaz Farahi is an interaction designer interested in “the space in between.” She likes to create a sensuous cocoon, and nature is her main inspiration. Benhaz referenced the long cultural history of our exploration of a merging with technology including the films ‘The Electric House’ and ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ Her quote from Andy Clark sums up the current state of affairs: “We are already cyborgs.” Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily – and not by definition.
[column]Benhaz’s creation ‘Synapse’ is a 3D printed wearable helmet which moves and illuminates according to brain activity. With the help of Autodesk, thoughts can effectively control the piece. “The environment therefore becomes an extension of our bodies…The project aims to play with the intimacy of our bodies and the environment to the point that the distinction between them becomes blurred, as both have ‘become’ a single entity.” [/column]
Benhaz closed the event with words that capture a hopeful view of fashion-tech:
“Technology can connect us with our environment, not alienate us from the world.”
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