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Smart Clothes, Fashionable Technologies
by Sylvie Parent and Angus Leech, translated by Timothy Barnard
16.1 - July
Over the past few years, technological prostheses have gradually encroached upon the world of clothing by combining with the surfaces that protect and personalize our bodies. Communications and entertainment devices, such as cellular phones and mp3 players, have become new forms of adornment, connecting our inner world with our surroundings and profoundly altering our relationship with the world. These increasingly multifunctional and powerful accessories have contributed to a process of layering our personal boundaries with multiple strata of information and sensation while offering others the image of a hardware-equipped body.
In the field of smart clothes, the trend today is towards a subtler and more
complex integration of technological elements - the concept of the "second skin"
- while taking our needs and desires into account. This issue of HorizonZero
highlights the many achievements in the field of "ready-to-wear" technology.
In Quintessence, Sara Diamond leads us through her thoughts on clothing and its inscription in time, pointing out the affective meaning it has for us. Having done so, she asks herself what effect ready-to-wear technology can have on this affective relationship. The temporality of clothing is also at issue in Maja Kuzmanovic's article Fashion Ecologies. Kuzmanovic invites us to imagine the clothing of tomorrow: clothing no longer subject to the constant swings of fashion, but having the ability to adapt and last, thanks to materials sensitive both to the environment and to the individual wearing it.
The recent strides made in electronic textiles and smart clothing are the subject of Joanna Berzowska's article Intimate Electronics. Berzowska has been actively involved for many years in the research into and design of smart textiles, and remarks that these "soft computers" not only have utilitarian functions, but also make it possible to explore the playful and expressive aspects of clothing.
Finally, in order to fill you in on the latest tangible work in the field, style writer Lincoln Phillip introduces the recent work of six designers of smart clothing and accessories in our interactive essay Soft, Smart, and Well Connected. We're sure you will find these innovators and their fashionable creations well worth checking out.
Sylvie Parent is the French editor of HorizonZero.
16.2 - August
Fashion is the recognition that nature has endowed us with one skin too few, that a fully sentient being should wear its nervous system externally. (J.G. Ballard)
The August edition of Issue 16: WEAR begins with an investigation of ways of wearing one's inner life on one's sleeve: for if fashion is indeed a secondary layer of the human nervous system, then new work in the field of wearable technology and ubiquitous computing is effectively extending that system well past the garment or accessory, and into the surrouding environment of space-time and information. In her article Between the Skin and the Garden, artist and wearables researcher Katherine Moriwaki turns her attention to how Canadian and international new media artists are using fashionable devices to investigate the interactive interstices between the human body and the world all around us - in particular, how wearables are acting as a new kind of semi-permeable membrane along which these systems can merge.
As the technological tools that we use to negotiate our world move closer to our skin, we grow the urge to personalize them, integrate them with more ancient codes and modes of dressing and expressing our personal and cultural identities, similarities and differences, desires for social interaction and exchange. In her text Fashion Sensing / Fashioning Sense, ubiquitous computing researcher Anne Galloway interviews designer Maggie Orth of International Fashion Machines about how and why new mergings of aesthetics and technology in the world of soft computing and e-textiles have the potential to change the way we think about technology and integrate it into our lives.
And finally, for the futurist fashionista in all of us, this month's Horizontal gallery offers up the ultimate in interactive window shopping: The Wearable Landscape features conceptual sketches imagining what everyday fashionable technology might look like by 2015, as speculated by some of today's most prominent wearable computing designers. Sabine Seymour outfits us for an extreme ocean sport with her RESCUE sailing gear. Maggie Orth forecasts a climate-predicting ensemble with her Weather Jacket and Destination Belt. Victoria Lawton prescribes independence-giving health care-wear for the over-60 set with her Nocturnal Dialysis Nightwear. And Susan Jenkyn-Jones matchmakes glass slipper romance with artificially intelligent accessories in her pleasing and teasing e-scapaid dating service. We sincerely hope that you'll be intrigued by the stylish and stimulating ideas of these clothing creators, each individually illustrated and brought to life in interactive format by HorizonZero's creative staff.
Speaking of which, it is our very great pleasure to take this opportunity to toss Cam Christiansen of Calgary's Anlanda Media [www.anlanda.com] a big bouquet of gratitude for all of his hard work as WEAR's Guest Creative Director. Cam deserves hefty kudos for helping this issue of HorizonZero innovate in terms of ideas and design - but above and beyond all that, it is his raw enthusiasm, optimism, and love of the subject that have been his greatest contribution to our team, and we wish him all the best in his busy future.
Oh yes, and did we mention that this month also marks HorizonZero's second anniversary? The milestone was celebrated in Banff on August 6th in tandem with the Banff New Media Institute's Outside/Inside wearables fashion show. Following a fantastic runway extravaganza featuring many of the designers and wearable creations featured in this issue (among them Jenny Tillotson, Victoria Lawton, Katherine Moriwaki, Elise Co, Tom Donaldson and Tina Gonsalves, Elise Co, Barbara Layne, Anne Galloway, Joanna Berzowska, and Susan Jenkyn Jones), as well as brand new wearables from Sara Diamond's CodeZebra Softwear Collection 2004, we all raised a glass to two great years of championing Canadian digital media at the follow-up HorizonZero anniversay launch party. Special thanks to everyone who was there to celebrate with us. And to one and all, we sincerely hope you'll enjoy this 16th issue in all its glam and glory!
Angus Leech is English Editor of HorizonZero.