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Anouk Wipprecht’s “Spider Dress”

Having previously posted about the “Spider Dress” prototype, I was delighted by the unveiling of the finished design last week. Pearl-colored, reminiscent of Iris van Herpen‘s 3D-printed couture creations, this gorgeous dress by Dutch designer Anouk Wipprecht is a marvel of fashiontech (the intersection of fashion and technology). The animatronic garment is inspired by animal behavior, using motion and respiration sensors to respond to the approach of others – “The dress measures the wearer’s stress levels with wireless biosignals, and aggregates this information with measurements of others’ proximity and speed of approach (it can detect movement up to 22 feet away). The dress changes according to these various data inputs, gauging how the wearer is feeling about the people around her.”

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Naomi Kizhner’s “Energy Addicts”

Energy Addicts is a project by Israeli graduate student Naomi Kizhner. Kizhner, a designer and “trend theorist,” seeks to “provoke the thought about how far we will go in order to ‘feed’ our addiction in the world of declining resources.” The project comprises three devices, the Blinker, the E-Pulse Conductor, and the Blood Bridge – jewelry pieces which harness the body’s energy to generate electrical power. Some of them are embedded into the veins, and thus invasive.

Kizhner plays with the idea of human bodies as “biological wealth.” Using “invasive gold and biopolymer devices,” electromagnets, micro energy cells, and micro turbines, she turns the wearer into a natural resource, where “simple movements performed by the subconscious are fully utilized” – provoking interesting questions about ethics and the quantification of the individual. The Blinker extracts energy from blinks of the eyelids, the Blood Bridge uses a hypodermic needle inserted into the arm and circulates blood through the wheel, turning it, and the E-Pulse Conductor is inserted in veins near the spine and picks up electrical impulses.

This ingenious project is simultaneously technological wizardry, fashion statement, and social commentary. She has also made a short film to accompany it, which depicts individuals using their bodies to light up their world in a way that makes it meaningful for them, drawing them further into this addiction, but also seeming to drain them. It is as if they only feel alive when they can have this visionary reality before them, which requires their energy to manifest; so what makes them feel alive is what ironically enervates and devitalizes them, and is also what closes them off to any other world, perpetuating the cycle.

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Imogen Heap Performs “Me, the Machine” at Wired

Imogen Heap demonstrates her amazing new musical gloves at WIRED 2012. “Using a unique gestural vocabulary, motion data-capture systems, and user interfaces to parameter functions developed by Imogen Heap and her team, artists and other users will be able to use their motion to guide computer-based digital creations. The Musical Gloves are both an instrument and a controller in effect, designed to connect the user fluidly with gear performers usually use, such as Ableton – think Minority Report for musicians brought to you by the DIY/maker revolution.”

Inspired when Kelly Snook invited her to the MIT Media Lab in 2009 and she tried on Elly Jessop’s musical glove, she and her creative team, headed by Snook, began developing a glove that would enable “more expressive control of the tech in studio and on stage, something I could wear and create sound fluidly with, more organically, humanly somehow.”

The gloves offer an integrated, transcendent experience for the live performer, wherein she uses her motion, gesture, and body to create and control electronic music in an organic process, almost “touching” the notes, as if they were visible around her and her bodily movement, her physical interactions, literally performed the music.

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The Fashiontech Marvels of Anouk Wipprecht: “Smoke Dress” & “Spider Dress”

Dutch fashiontech designer Anouk Wipprecht, who specializes in interactive garmentry that responds to its environment and to human presence/input, has created a breathtakingly beautiful dress in collaboration with technologist Aduen Darriba, which emits clouds of smoke when it detects someone approaching.

Also a source of delight and awe, born of a collaboration between Wipprecht and hacker/engineer Daniel Schatzmayr, is the dramatic, eerie, and hauntingly lovely animatronic “Spider Dress” – a prototype of a mechanic dress equipped with sensors, indicators, and controllers, created with the aim to give more power and “psychological thrills” to the sugar-sweet character that performative wearables often have. Sensoric, servo-controlled, mechanic, microcontroller-based, and reacting/attacking upon approach, surprising the audience with different moods and behaviors. To boot, it’s inspired by LIMBO, one of my favorite video games.

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Tim Lewis’ “Pony”

Tim LewisPony is a bizarre and uncanny kinetic sculpture that was exhibited at 2009’s Kinetica Art Fair. Unsettling and uber-realistic, Pony looks somewhat like a surreal ostrich-esque creature composed of human arms, pulling a small carriage behind itself; motion-sensitive, appearing to “walk” in a very eerie and delicately articulated fashion, it is another creepy and brilliant intersection of art and technology, and a provoking piece of interactive sculpture. Its title also suggests a veiled commentary on the relationship between humans and domesticated animals.

Tim Lewis – Pony

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Anouk Wipprecht: The Merging of Technology and Fashion

Anouk Wipprecht is a Dutch fashion designer who works in the emerging field of “fashionable technology,” defined by Sabine Seymour as “the intersection of fashion, design, science, and technology.” Anouk seeks to create a “higher state of connectivity between the body and our clothing,” a physical and psychological relationship wherein what we wear responds to us, and we are also affected by what we wear, producing something more than just the traditional function of coverture/adornment. What results is one-of-a-kind, architectural, avant-garde garments with bold silhouettes, vested with circuitry and a regalia of plastic tubes and the ability to respond in a unique and remarkable way to human bodies.


The Birds, an installation piece inspired by the Hitchcock film

Examples of Anouk Wipprecht’s “wearable tech” include Fragilis, a dress that eerily mimics the function of the human heart and veins through motion and lighting (similar to the Heartbeat Dress, which conversely uses sound, recording the heartbeat of the model and relaying it to the audience through speakers embedded in the dress), and Intimacy, a set of garments that become more or less transparent and opaque in relation to their proximity to each other.

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“Biojewelry”: Grow Your Own Bone Wedding Rings

Several years ago, Tobie Kerridge and Nikki Stott, design researchers at the Royal College of Art, and Ian Thompson, a bioengineer at King’s College London, teamed up to create wedding bands from bone cells extracted from five volunteer couples.

According to a BBC News article, “The scientists extracted the participants’ wisdom teeth to get at a sliver of bone that attaches them to the jawbone.” After extracting the bone cells for culture, “These are fed with nutrients and grown on a ‘scaffold’ material called bioglass, a special bioactive ceramic which mimics the structure of bone material.” It was a “long and fragile” process, but basically took place in the following steps:

The process
1. Extract bone chips from jaw. Rinse.
2. Place bone cells in ring-shaped bioactive ceramic scaffold.
3. Feed liquid nutrients and culture in a temperature-controlled bioreactor for six weeks.
4. After coral-like bone forms fully around scaffold, pare down to final ring shape and insert silver liner (for engraving).

Of course, there is more potential for this project than just offbeat wedding rings made from the beloved’s own bone cells. It could eventually be used to grow bone replacements for implantation, so that the bone required to, say, repair a damaged jaw, wouldn’t have to be harvested from a piece of a rib or elsewhere in the body.