Aesthetics, Prosthetics and Politics
Hi, it’s me!
For this Assignment I thought an assignment dealing with the body would be a perfect opportunity to explore my thought on the future of fashion, image and the body.
The project aims to explore the gap between our digital multiple representations of self vs our physical “real” self.
Masks have always been an important part of human culture. From full fledged coverings to body augmentation (i.e make up, accessories, plastic surgery, tattoos, etc.) we dawn them to preform rituals, disguise identity and morph ourselves for different social situations. The digital arena has taken these behaviors to a new levels avatars, photo editing apps, different social media platforms all urge us to improve ourselves and our surroundings.
People have found new freedoms to be anybody, anywhere and anything they want. This raises real social implications and conflicts when these representations are met with what we consider reality. In a world lived out in the digital realm, as much as in reality, maybe things need to change? Maybe real is not a virtue anymore but rather a burden we are bearing.
What if we could be freed of the need to try to morph our physicality to match the way we feel or want to feel. What if there was a new social contract that lets us choose our “look” in the physical world the way we can in our digital life?
Looking at my own experience at ITP I wonder if the way people see me reflects how I feel? most of the time I don’t feel that much different than I did when I was in my 30’s. Would people treat me differently if I looked differently?
I wanted to create a statement about these questions with all of the implications and complexities attached.I was faced with questiones like, what to manipulate the subject? (meaning our physicality), or the gazers? I decided for this iteration to go with the first, trying to create a situation where our “real” physicality was no longer relevant.
The object is made out of two parts, one that obscures the body and the other that presents the information we want to put out.
I knew that I needed:
A. A full body cover that would eliminate all recognition of the wearer i.e. race, gender,
body shape etc.
B. An object that would feel super ordinary and in every day use like makeup.
C. Technology that will allow the wearer to represent themselves the way they choose in a given environment.
For the first part I was looking at different conceptual full body coveralls.
Esthetically I really love this look of all white and it served my ideas of further development of this idea that involves projection but I felt creating a social contract and dressing everyone in white was a problematic message to say the least!
I moved on to look at green screen technology where the body is eliminated as an option.
This felt a bit too ridiculous and I wanted the coverall to be something people would actually consider wearing. Eventually I decided to base the design on an Issey Myake overall from the 80’s. I am using a Dupont Tychem coverall to conduct some experiments on fit and shape.
Using QR codes seemed like a good option considering my technical abilities and the time frame of the project.It would allow me to create a physical object that could be worn and easily changed.looking at the esthetics of QR codes and wanting the object to reflect an everyday experience (although mostly feminine??!, problem?) I chose to go with a make up eyeshadow case for the encasing of the different QR codes I wanted to create. Tried to sketch out the idea.
I went on to examine my own image the more I worked on this project the more complex it became for me. while this concepts are indeed liberating they are ethically complex in a way I find very hard to justify. I wonder if it is a generational thing and kids growing up today that have been leading lives on digital media since birth would feel differently? If I can be who ever I want can I be a 22 year old Asian college student? what about cultural appropriation and race? why is it easier for me to think of myself as male or non binary but I could never represent myself as a different race? does it all come down to social norms, like plastic surgery was once considered tabu and shameful but know is almost celebrated.
I continued by creating 4 representations of myself and purposefully went from reality – augmented to full fledged not me.. although I chose images that I identify with each for different reasons (one actually being Asian but I did that to see if the class would feel like me). For each image I generated a QR Code through https://app.qr-code-generator.com
Then went on to work on the Physical objects the coverall I ordered from Dupont is a far cry from my Issey Miake vision and I thought of cutting and reshaping but there is not enough material.So for the class presentation it will have to be a prototype.