notes

Wearables, it's more than what we wear...

Without Fear: The Umbrella Movement, a dress that can transform to provide protection and shelter during times of civil unrest. Image credit, Wong Ka Wing. Model, Lee lee lee.

Without Fear: The Umbrella Movement, a dress that can transform to provide protection and shelter during times of civil unrest. Image credit, Wong Ka Wing. Model, Lee lee lee.

If you haven’t yet had a chance to see the ‘Wear Next’ exhibition at Artisan, I recommend you do.

Wearables is a broad concept that respective media this week wanted us to make it simple to understand. While I'm thankful for the exposure, upon reflection I believe the variety as well as complexity of the works on display was overlooked…

For example, I'd like to clarify that Without Fear: The Umbrella Movement (umbrella dress) by emerging artists from Hong Kong (Chan, Kwok & Li) was inspired by the extended sit-in protest in Hong Kong in late 2014. The movement at the time involved mass civil disobedience by pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong. In this context, the dress was designed with civil safety in mind, and to protect the protestors, to enable them to wear shelter on their bodies and to blend-in with non-protestors during the day, and to transform to a protective shelter at night - a tent.

Without Fear by artists Chan Stacey Lok Heng, Li Tak Yung Doris and Kwok Tsz Lam Lamothy. Image credit, Wong Ka Wing. Model, Lee lee lee.

Without Fear by artists Chan Stacey Lok Heng, Li Tak Yung Doris and Kwok Tsz Lam Lamothy. Image credit, Wong Ka Wing. Model, Lee lee lee.

Smart fashion—technology embedded within the clothes we wear—is a growing industry. And as more advanced products like the Apple Watch and FitBit become mainstream, a new exhibition in Brisbane is asking what’s next for wearable technology.
— http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/smartly-dressed-the-future-of-wearable-technology/6744374

 

Embedded technology

E-textile sensing device. Still image from Hacking the body 2.0 digital footage.

E-textile sensing device. Still image from Hacking the body 2.0 digital footage.

Other works within the exhibition are more technological, for example the mini-documentary Hacking the Body 2.0: Practical Investigations by Camille Baker (UK-based performance artist) and Kate Sicchio (New York choreographer & media artist) attempt to address ethical issues surrounding identity and data ownership when using wearable technology in performance. To do this, Baker & Sicchio develop methods to hack commercial wearable devices, as well as making handmade e-textile sensing-devices. They do this as a critical act of making, confronting issues of surveillance and control.

Hacking the body 2.0: Practical investigations by artists Camille Baker & Kate Sicchio.

Hacking the body 2.0: Practical investigations by artists Camille Baker & Kate Sicchio.

The exhibition as a whole is intended to provide a snapshot into the broad spectrum of wearables, from health management & self monitoring (health trackers and future implantable applications), to the expression of non-verbal modes of communication (proximity detectors, light, vibration) to environmental monitoring and interactions (sensing plants and measuring air quality) to the broader questions around ethics, data ownership and privacy. In all, the exhibition is about starting a discussion and generating debate, to trigger thoughts and opinions regarding the future role of wearable technology.

The exhibition is presented by Artisan and I co-curated it with my colleague Dr Rafael Gomez, Industrial Design Lecturer at QUT. The exhibition is open to the public until the 7th of November.

Wear Next_ 25 July - 7 November, 2015
Artisan Gallery 381 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.

If you get a chance to drop-by - let me know what you think :) 

 

 

 

 

Further reading regarding Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement (aka 'Revolution')

Hong Kong civil servants return to work as pro-democracy protests continue past deadline

Hong Kong's Umbrella Protest Were More Than Just a Student Movement

Occupy Hong Kong's End Start of 'Permanent' Political Unrest

rethinking design

In a bid to challenge students to think 'beyond' self, beyond the Anthropocene and to encourage/foster an awareness of the interconnected nature of all things - projects this semester continue in much the same vein that I developed two years ago. In that sense, each program provides a scaffold for exploration, cultivation and development of a personal ethic in relation to research to better position and frame an understanding of current conditions. At its foundation, I adopt a contextual systems thinking approach to my work. Contextual in the sense that I value designers (well, emerging designers, in the classroom sense) working on projects that they are able to physically access. I find many design courses tend to promote false contexts and as such, develop nice awe inducing outcomes. They do this by encouraging student designers to 'solve problems' that are assumed to be inherently 'problematic'. A short 2010 piece by Bruce Nussbaum 'Is Humanitarian Design the New Imperialism' encapsulates my confusion over humanitarian projects and further reinforces why I find it important to offer student projects that are local & contextually tangible.

A summary of courses that I have designed and am convening this semester, include:

First year, digital technologies - in this course students learn about the role of technology in design, in doing so they are taught methods and ways of understanding technology as a 'tool' to better express their creative capacities. At no point do we deem the technology an icon, at all points it is regarded as a medium of expression - no different to pen and paper. We seek to breakdown these barriers by teaching students how to code basic web CSS/HTML, some 2D SVG and 3D explorations -- all while learning about the social constructs that lead to homelessness. Through this lens, students research, design and develop ways of understanding their role in society and propose methods/ways of engaging in broader discussion and debate. Technological tools are then used to express their thinking and design ideas.

Second year, rethinking methods and materials - this course seeks to teach students about materiality and the ways in which most product/design-making is structured around linear (aka broken) systems. In doing so, students learn the importance of material value, this is achieved by exploring waste streams as a place for rethinking (waste becomes raw material, it is a matter of perspective). Students embark on a journey of material discovery, this year - the project is interlinked with a social NFP community partner - this further enriches the program as the design brief is situated within a frame of designing within broader social considerations such as designing for a client with disability.

Second year, farm to fork food security project - the objective of this course is to expose students to their position, role and relationship to food systems. Unpacking the system - farm to fork - enables students to better understand how complex food systems are. Specifically, the factors that impact and influence the ways in which food waste is managed such as political, regulatory and cultural influences i.e, understanding regulatory and policy measures that prohibit effective use/re/use of food scraps in other ways.

Third year, rethinking design. This course is situated at an advanced program level and offers students an element of self-directed project opportunity. Through this program, students are exposed to the challenge of re-framing a theme by selecting a particular design approach. They can do this one of three ways (i) traditional design centric approach (seek to identify 'need' and design explicitly for this); (ii) reverse engineer a current designed artifact or service (incremental innovation); or, (iii) take a critical, speculative approach to the theme by challenging traditional assumptions by taking an anti-design approach. 

 

wear next_

A recent BNE Magazine piece (p. 9) regarding wear next_!! 

I'm curating the wear next_ exhibition in collaboration with Dr Rafael Gomez (QUT). The exhibition will open on the 31st July 2015 at Artisan Gallery (opening address by Cat Matson Chief Digital Officer, City of Brisbane), Fortitude Valley. The exhibition will run until the 7th November.

[watch this space, more information to come!]

3576QCA Wearable Technology

Design, build, prototype, hack, code, craft and envision! So ends a massive few weeks of the first iteration of the new winter elective - 3576QCA Wearable Technology. This course was offered to students at the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University as part of the Cloud Workshop program.

Cloud Workshop is a cross-cultural, cross-institutional, interdisciplinary wearable technology course. Blending students from across three institutions to work together harnessing the power of cloud computing to design, develop and prototype future visions of wearable tech. In each instance, student teams were encouraged to consider not only the future of wearables, but our future selves, impacts of technology on identity, sense of self, communication, engagement, society and surveillance. Working with students from QCA, QUT and Hong Kong Baptist University students explored the world of arduino, blinky lights, sensors, craft, form and fashion in a bid to consider and propose alternative futures.

QCA success at state graduate design awards

Exciting times for QCA Product design students, shortlisted for 2015 GOTYA awards; Paul Bardini, Callum Burgess and Megan Rowe. Congratulations to all QCA students and specifically Angela Fok for wining first prize in Jewellery Design and Paul Bardini for his high commendation.

Link to full article via Griffith University