Recently in exhibitions Category

Fiberart International

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Fiberart International, a biennial exhibition of contemporary fiber art, is currently showing at Pittsburgh's Society for Contemporary Craft and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.

My favorite pieces: intricate, bold tapestries designed by weaver Nancy Jackson. My least favorite piece: the bowl made of fish skin.

If your summer plans don't bring you near Pittsburgh, the show will move to New York's Museum of Arts & Design in September. It's definitely worth checking out if you get the chance.

Dialectric

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Laura MacCary and her father Lawrence MacCary are collaborating on a series of interactive electronic textiles that they call Dialectric. "By interacting with the weaving the viewer physically enters the circuit, and the circuit passes through the viewer, blurring the boundary between them." Touching one piece in the collection causes LEDs to light up, while touching another causes audible clicks.

The output of the weaves isn't based on a simple on/off switch. Instead, how you touch the fabric (providing more or less skin surface area) affects the intensity of the light or the frequency of the clicks. Commerical fabric circuits (such as those from SOFTswitch used in flexible keyboards or MP3 jackets) also share this resistive property, but they certainly don't exploit it. There's a huge potential for analog input to allow for more emotionally rich expression and interaction with fabric, so it's exciting to see the MacCarys exploring this area.

If you're in the Seattle area, you can play with these pieces at Illuminator2 from June 25 - July 31.

first couture wearables?

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Today is the last day for the Elsa Schiaparelli exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art before it moves to the Mus├łe de la Mode in Paris. Schiaparelli may not be widely known today, but from the late 1920's through 1954 she was a top couturier and rival to Coco Chanel. Her designs were practical and forward-thinking (in 1931 she developed a divided skirt for female tennis players), artsy and edgy (she collaborated with Salvador Dali to design a printed pattern that resembled torn animal flesh).

In what may be the first example of mixing technology and couture fashion, Schiaparelli placed music boxes into bags, belts, and hats to entertain guests during a 1939 fashion show.

Strangely familiar

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The Carnegie Museum of Art is currently hosting an exhibit called Strangely Familiar: Design and Everyday Life. From the exhibit brochure: "Design is a paradoxical presence in our lives, both invisible and conspicuous, familiar and strange. It surrounds us but fades from view, becomes second nature yet remains seemingly unknowable. Broadly conceived as the world of human-made artifacts, design is literally everywhere. Despite this ubiquity, we seldom experience objects, messages, and spaces to provoke deeper questions about how we choose to live..."

The projects in Strangely Familiar rethink the traditional role of design in everyday life. A few are particularly relevant to the topics of fashion and technology.

The Transformables line of clothing from C.P. Company consists of protective rain garments that transform into items such as a tent, kite, or inflatable armchair. (To view the line, click through their homepage to the archive.)

From the Fortune Cookies design group comes Felt 12x12, small gray felt squares that consumers can combine in ways that suit their own needs or styles. The group believes that "a designer's role in society is to create a framework, within which consumers can define shape and form for themselves." Watch their movie and see creations that range from aprons and hats to hot dog holders.

The Placebo Project is an investigation into people's attitudes towards electromagnetic fields. The Nipple Chair has two protrusions in the back that vibrate when the chair is in an electromagnetic field. The 25 compasses set into the top of the Compass Table spin when a cell phone is placed on it. The Electro-draught Excluder, though it looks like it might protect you from electromagnetic fields, actually does nothing but induce strange behavior as you try to hide behind it.

If you're not able to experience this fantastic exhibit in person, buy the book.

feeling good

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Megan Galbraith, from the Aesthetics & Computation Group at the MIT Media Lab, showed her illuminating dress in the Wear Me exhibition that was part of Eurowearable 03.

The dress, named Elroy, is shown in a short feel-good video (6.2MB) that will make you want to either buy one of these dresses or make one yourself! OK, well that's what it did for me. The captions read, "The panels rearrange patterns depending on the time. It's about a relationship between you and your wardrobe. It's not about computers strapped to your arm. It's about bringing the world of fashion into the 21st century. Because what we wear should make us feel good. And if it doesn't, it should change."

Megan has created so many amazing things and her website is a treasure trove for anyone excited about wearables and fashion. Especially worth checking out are her page on computational fashion concepts and her Masters thesis entitled Embedded Systems for Computational Garment Design. Go! Go Now!

Eurowearable '03

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I just found the Eurowearable '03 website and am MORE than a little shocked that their logo is nearly identical to mine! They even cut the guy into squares like I did! What are the friggin' odds? I am now a true believer in the collective consciousness...

The conference looks great, though, and seems to address social issues and design much more than ISWC does. There's also an exhibition called Wear Me which showcases several intelligent garments. Apparently this is just part of a larger exhibition that will begin in Sept 04.

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