[-empyre-] [empyre] wearable technology

Susan E Ryan faryan at lsu.edu
Tue Jan 28 07:03:20 EST 2014

As Manuel De Landa says, such devices help "get humans out of the decision-making loop" (War in the Age of Intelligent Machines)
Agamben also criticizes the idea of reducing the body to metrics in his discussions of homo sacer, the
confusing Roman designation for "bare life" or a living citizen with no real rights.

Another connection for these wearable medical devices is the concept of constant maintenance of
the self described in Deleuze's control society -- (scrambled thoughts--my schedule this week is insane
and affecting my coherence--sorry) -- as we become more focused on our own metrics we are actually
less self aware.

BTW I find that my students tend to all dress the same, but as I move about geographically esp. in
certain (often urban) environments I find great diversity.

But wearable devices have a stake in treating us all the same and thus all having the same,
sleek "digital look."


On Jan 27, 2014, at 1:05 PM, Sarah Hamilton wrote:

----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
Hi everyone,

The idea of technologically embedded clothes is one that I think intersects with so many of our discourses. For instance, clothing can be a real life actualization of memetic thought -- a quick survey of a group of people (students in a class, people walking down the street, commuters on a train) will show that most people wear roughly the same thing as each other.

With that in mind, I consider the relatively new consumer trend of monitoring bracelets, either Nike, Jawbone or Fitbit. For those who are unfamiliar with it, these are rubber bracelets that cost between $99-150 US, and monitor your heart rate and sleep patterns, among other things. The impetus for these products is health related, as oppose to fashion related.

There's also been discussion of these products being used by primary physicians to monitor the health of their patients.

At this point, clothing moves away from the aesthetic or convenient, and towards health implications. When technology starts measuring our choices in real time, how does that affect those decisions?

Sarah Hamilton

On Sun, Jan 26, 2014 at 7:47 PM, Susan E Ryan <faryan at lsu.edu<mailto:faryan at lsu.edu>> wrote:
----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
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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