[-empyre-] [empyre] wearable technology

Susan E Ryan faryan at lsu.edu
Mon Jan 27 13:47:06 EST 2014

Hello all,

I have been researching wearable technology, for the past several years, from the standpoint of dress.  In my book to come out in June, Garments of Paradise: Wearable Discourse in the Digital Age I argue that dress has always been a "technology" and advances historically as a particular type of technology, one subject to the social, expressive, and corporeal constraints of dress in any given period. At the same time, wearable technology (today) is subject to the regimes and mythologies of technology, such as the illusion of perfectibility (thus my title, loosely from Giorgio Agamben, who writes about dress in the Christian tradition: aspiring to the condition of the gauzy garments of light that Genesis suggests we wore before the Fall). Technology perfects us? Or that's what we aspire to?

I am interested in artists, like Joey Berzowska and Anouk Wipprecht and many, many others, who utilize the genre of dress as a means to broach some of the problems of becoming digitized
in this way, discovering the imperfections in our quest for perfection.

Dress is different from being injected with technology, implantation, or any cyborgian merging, because dress is continuously dynamic in terms of form and type and its process involves the wearer, a material substrate, and whatever industries s/he draws garment/technologies from. It represents day-by-day choices and experiences and opportunities, as well as the ability to misuse, misappropriate--dress that uses technology in a deviant way.

So I find Katja's ideas about interaction to be especially interesting, because the phenomenon of wearing or dressing is constantly interactive on multiple levels, so that adding digital media to the mix (like the Glass) raises specific questions for how we exist, perform, and move about the world, and how the world mirrors us.

It's late and I'm just throwing a few things out to get this part of the discussion started.

Susan Elizabeth Ryan
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