2017 CAST Symposium BEING MATERIAL: WEARABLE Panel Discussion

2017 CAST Symposium BEING MATERIAL: WEARABLE Panel Discussion

Azra Aksamija, Associate Professor, Program in Art, Culture and Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Akšamija’s multi-disciplinary practice includes “wearable mosques” that explore the representation of Islam in the West, spatial mediation of identity politics and cultural transfers through art and architecture.

Christina Agapakis, Creative Director, Ginkgo Bioworks. Agapakis is a biologist, artist, writer and creative director at Ginkgo Bioworks, an organism design company that is bringing biology to industrial engineering. She explores the aesthetics of biotechnology and has made cheese from the artist Olafur Eliasson’s tears.

Hussein Chalayan, Fashion Designer. For more than twenty years, Hussein Chalayan has used clothing as platform to display materials that change state and transform themselves. His work is characterized by an adventurous, bold incorporation of technology and an ability to address conceptual issues—such as disembodiment, metamorphosis, mobility and forced migration— through fashion. Chalayan’s experimental practice has turned the runway show into a sophisticated, multi-media form of performance art.

Michelle Finamore, Penny Vinik Curator of Fashion Arts, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where she recently curated the #techstyle exhibit. She is the author of Hollywood Before Glamour: Fashion in American Silent Film.

Lucy McRae, sci-fi artist, film director and self proclaimed body architect. In films, music videos and installations, she places the human body in complex, futuristic scenarios and designs prosthetic extensions that confound the boundaries between the natural and the artificial.

Natasha Schüll, Associate Professor , Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University. Her next book, KEEPING TRACK: Sensor Technology, Self-Regulation, and the Data-Driven Life, which will appear in 2017, concerns the rise of digital self-tracking technologies and the new modes of introspection and self-governance they engender.

In 1995, MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte predicted that “being digital” would have us entering a realm increasingly unconstrained by the materiality of the world. Two decades later, our everyday lives are indeed ever more suffused by computation and calculation. But unwieldy materiality persists and even reasserts itself. Programmable matter, self-assembling structures, 3D/4D printing, wearable technologies and bio-inspired design today capture the attention of engineers, scientists and artists. “BEING MATERIAL” showcased recent developments in materials systems and design, placing this work in dialogue with kindred and contrasting philosophy, art practice and critique. Panels on the PROGRAMMABLE, WEARABLE, LIVABLE and INVISIBLE—along with a concert, AUDIBLE—explored new and unexpected meetings of the digital and material worlds.

The integration of the human body and clothing with technology has propelled art, computationally enhanced fashion design, and materials science far beyond visions of the cyborg proposed in the 1960s.  This session explores the multiplicity of these developments, from the emergence of conceptual fashion design and wearable computing in the 1990s to current experiments with electronic and reactive textiles and portable sensing systems that provide data feedback to monitor health or enhance physical performance. It asks what it means today to be “human, not so human.”

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