HOW TECHNOLOGY IS INFLUENCING FUNCTIONAL CLOTHING, FASHION, COSTUME DESIGN, AND PERFORMANCE
As we are witnessing an increased awareness of possibilities enabled by technology in fashion, we cannot help but let our imagination flow around the utmost abstract ideas we thought only CGI or sci-fi films are able to interpret. One example lies in the 1982 film Tron, which used highly innovative methods of incorporating digital looking patterns into costumes.
But back before that, in the 60s, the world was introduced to the space race. As such, the whole space age enthusiasm was finding its application in many fields of arts, defining the decade, and challenging many creators to find the best silhouettes, patterns, and materials to represent the future. The invention of unconventional ways of creating garments show the great capacity of the mind in imagining how the future will look like. A symbol of this decade - Paco Rabanne, with his architectural background, went beyond experimenting with materials, which until then was only considered for construction or other products, such as metal and plastic. By designing the costumes for Barbarella 1968, he gave the future a new perspective, which to this day still serves as an inspiration to designers who are trying to tell a story using alternative design methods and garment construction techniques.
But clearly, that was only the beginning of futurism, opening the path and horizon of possibilities of what can be done with the body and the second skin – clothes.
Approaching modern day, representation through the garment went beyond the social norm and diverted towards the concept of function. This started becoming the ultimate freedom of form following function and vice versa. Although it is almost impossible to grasp all that history has provided, we can highlight periods throughout the 20th century when youth, music, street art and avant-garde fashion changed this concept. This seemed to be like the gate of freedom for competitive minds to invent fashion every year, and it should be regarded positively. First of all, in social terms, it liberated people to become independent on the perception of what fashion is. It broke the boundaries and created a versatile world of personalities. And when the world had already seen it all, technology was still taking us to a new innovative direction.
It was Hussein Chalayan, amongst many designers, who showed us that the garment is more than a piece of cloth. It is an object that not only reflects our beliefs, but also can implicate personality sensors able to adapt to your preferences and needs through transformation. He might not have thought of it like that, but as free as the interpretation is, future designers continued to dig deeper and take it further from there, turning it into an actual possible transformable garment that can suit your body’s needs.
How artists and designers have used technology is highly individual. Some continue to be misunderstood on their purpose. Let us be real - not everyone can understand where technology stands in fashion without visualizing a cyborg. Still, that left enough room for those who actually want to conduct research on what the ‘cyborg like’ garment can do for us. By imitating emotions and raising interest in using the garment as functional support, the bio-psychological map of emotions can determine a lot of what we feel and where.
Emotions and their reactions have been interpreted through countless methods in many disciplines, but most directly using the body as the expressive tool. Many inspiring established world known names with great influence during different periods used their body to tell a story with psychological and emotional backgrounds.
For example, Rebecca Horn performed Unicorn in 1971, shortly after she had spent over a year in a sanatorium, recovering from lung poisoning caused by resins used in her sculptural work.
Marina Abramovic and Ulay are also known for many ritual performances, with Relation in Space 1976 and Relation in Time 1977 being one of their most well known pieces during the course of their professional and intimate relationship. More names of the modern day include Bart Hess and Lucy Mc Rae.
The extension of performing mental and physical states, dwell in theatre, dance, and the classical movement as well. This can be seen through the choreography of Saburo Teshigawara, Sasha Waltz, Pina Bauch and Tao Ye, who present extremely sensitive, experimental and contemporary dances.
EMOTIONS, TECHNOLOGY, FUNCTION AND PERFORMANCE
In the modern day, the influence of the above-mentioned artists has merged with fast-paced life that is in constant research of new mechanisms and functionalities. With emerging technology taking over, one cannot help but feed the curiosity of what is practical and what can be easily injected into our professional routines. The art of interactions has taken many steps forward and the possibilities of technological usage are blooming.
In this case, when speaking of the world of emotions, scientific work makes the highest effort to recognize emotions through digital computing; therefore, the necessity of involving technology seems almost immediate. The language of coding and programming is becoming the most powerful form of artificial communication that enables the building of the utmost abstract ideas.
As much as emotions have been the source of inspiration and interpretations in many disciplines, there is a new wave of organic manifestations in the body with the use of technological and biometrical measures. Performers like Wayne McGregor and Stelarc have integrated technology and robotics as part of the body in their performances.
In fashion, costume and performance point of view, these functions are expanding intensively as a concept, and are finding its usage in daily life and more. As a strong asset of the future, wearable technology in fashion is a powerful mechanism in conveying the message and purpose of the garment.
Iris van Herpen, the influential designer, extended the horizon of digital possibilities with 3D printing and fabric manipulation, increasing visual communication on a very innovative and effective level.
The appeal of continuously searching and testing innovative interpretations has shifted the production methods for new designers. Now, we are witnessing the emergence of a new way of thinking and conceptualization that almost proves the predictions of old sci-fi movies.
Even though functional clothing were not seen as fashionable, it “represents an evolutionary segment of the technical textiles market, demonstrating an area where clothing crosses conventional boundaries and integrates medicine, biotechnology, nanotechnology, physics and computing, among others, to meet the complex requirements of users” artists, designers and performers. – Deepti Gupta, Indian Institute of Technology.
Innovative minds around the world are using this platform as an alternative way of producing garments that are harmless to the environment, while suiting our needs and connecting us as a community - a progressive solution in both high and fast fashion that will be available to us in the near future. You may still wonder why and end up confused after reading this, but remember, many never thought smart phones were going to be so useful, so how about digital textiles and smart clothes?