[-empyre-] Greetings from Michigan

Hi all,
Sorry to be so delayed in starting this. Greetings from lovely Ann Arbor, Michigan. I'd like to see a dialog of people's ideas about wearables and their function, where people think they are going, and the fantasy wearables we might wish we had.

While I have been making technological art for awhile (low tech cinema machines, kinetic sculpture, animations), it is a completely new adventure for me to make wearables. The pieces I have made so far (custom fit for my body and specifically for a female body) were all motivated by personal/emotional needs: audio activated bra and dress, disciplining corset (Posture Generator), and a very beta Purring Shawl to indicate pleasure. While the objects (I call them "Performative Technologies") themselves are exhibit-friendly, it is the video performances that are the meat of the pieces, the images and the ideas behind them, be they comical or pointed in some way. Certainly, I have been influenced by feminist discourse and critiques of women's fashion (at least in Western culture) and its constrictive nature, the video performances of Martha Rosler, William Wegman, feminist performance artists such as Hannah Wilke or Ana Mendieta, and I am seeking to broaden the scope of both performative work and technological wearables into projects that might address people's emotional/psychological needs.
At this time, this might mean simply brainstorming about what psychological needs are most common, and try to address those. I would be interested in hearing people's ideas about that. (Could a wearable replace Prozac?)

Did anyone go to the International Wearable Computing conference in Washington DC last fall?
It's a fairly small conference (which is nice). Lots of both commercial applications (defense/war, wrist computers for making workers more efficient), and pure research and artistic plays. There was a whole team of students and professors sporting wearable computers (with head mounted displays) from Georgia Tech and lots of student presentations. One presentation by a German student was quite memorable for me because of its oversight. This student was in the process of inventing a wearable phone device that could detect what number you wanted to dial by the number of fingers you waved past your ear. Forward and backward, the users hand would go with different fingered arrangements flying in the air next to their head. The moderator asked the student if he was aware that those hand gestures might not be polite in certain cultures. I thought it was hilarious, but it also opened up a whole field of discussion in terms of what body positions, gestures, postures, and behaviors we might find ourselves doing in order to use new wearables. Can the wearable dictate a certain kind of behavior ? What kinds of behavior do we want to create? Can we create a wearable to do that?

Those are some questions I have for now. There are more. I am interested in the stories about wearables' use. Since this type of work is inherently connected to the body and a sensory experience, it seems only natural that the "research" aspect of making these include stories and responses.

Heidi Kumao heidikumao.net

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