ISEA Talk + Workshop

Artists with an appetite for experimentation often come up with solutions that have utilitarian value. My talk, titled "The Aftermath of Experimentation: What to do with your invention?" presented recent examples of such projects and the dilemmas one might encounter.

The examples cover a variety of pathways. Sometimes the invention comes about spontaneously, without having been intended. Sometimes it is the result of a clear goal at the outset of a project, but the product itself might be particularly unusual (revolutionary innovation, rather than incremental). The diversity of scenarios presented here represents the unruly collection of experiences we encounter in this emerging community. Perhaps the uniting feature is that we are likely to struggle with conventional models of the inventor-entrepreneur. (Mostly men trying to make a buck, as depicted in popular culture)

Management theory offers some insight into the themes of intellectual property, invention, and entrepreneurship. However, many of the particular dilemmas that artists face when considering production have not yet been resolved. For instance, many of us have a strong desire to share the technology we develop, yet are encouraged to claim ownership through the patent and trademark system. What can we learn about sharing from the Open Source Software community? What do we have to gain from ownership of intellectual property?

Models based on Rational Choice Theory don't easily account for open source activities. Considering entrepreneurship from a non RCT perspective, Stinchfield et. al. appropriate Claude Levi-Strauss' typology of ways that people interact with their environment. Levi-Strauss constructed four modalities - art, craft, bricolage and engineering - and the authors add a fifth - brokerage. By expanding on the qualities of these types, they account for entrepreneurs that are not purely motivated by personal benefit.

The artist-inventor cases that we looked at included an empathy incubator (The Mirrorbox by Megan May Daalder), an audible textile (Sonic Fabric, by Alyce Santoro), a water ritual device (by Michael Kontopolous), a flexible adhesive putty (Sugru, by Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh), spray-on fabric (Fabrican, by Dr. Manel Torres), a haptic forecaster (the Cryoscope, by Robb Godshaw), and an open-source sensitive robot skin (rSkin, by Hannah Perner-Wilson). All of these fascinating ideas developed unique relationships with commodification, from sympathetic to antagonistic. I recommend checking them out.

Following the talk, we ran a hands-on workshop in which participants conceived of, produced, and planned pathways for their own weird device.  We created the ideas for these weird devices through a Mad-Libs approach. It was an engaging and playful way to generate inventions. Following the construction of "prototypes", participants planned out scenarios for what to do with their inventions. 

Tinkering around to make things like this "broken adj run-ning verb instrument noun that is better adj than the slippey-est adj gizmo noun." 

Workshop description from the ISEA catalog:
Tinkering around with materials can lead to unintended consequences. Sometimes, the result is worth pursuing commercially. This workshop explores the pathways that novel inventions can take as they meander (or explode!) out into the wider world. This workshop will explore cases of products developed from academic or artistic research. Bring your stories of your brushes with the commercial world, and we’ll collectively consider platforms such as Kickstarter, blogs, Etsy and more. We will also get into the basics of patenting and trademarking, and debate the value of intellectual property protection.


Live Hugs with Sofa So Good

New Sofa So Good stop-motion video by Elisabeth Buecher and Amelie Labarthe To find out more: http://www.puffandflock.com/SofaSoGood.html


Self-Actuated Textiles

I have been quite silent about my on-going research on self-actuated textiles as I am still in the writting up process of my thesis.  However I will have the pleasure to present part of this research at the occasion of two exciting events which I would like to share with you:
  • 3rd of May - DIGITAL PLAY, Technical University Munich
an evening discussion on adaptive architectures and digital sensuality organised by Nadin Heinich from 'we are plan a' for the launch of  her book Digitial Utopia where I will present my work together with Fabian Hemmert, design researcher at the Design Research Lab and Troika.The evening is dedicated to young architects and design researchers who face digital technologies in a playful manner. They develop adaptive architectures, installations and multi-sensory objects which render virtual information physical perceptible or transform them in a spatial experience. Thereby they create a digital sensuality which extends beyond the mere simulation of our analogue world.
Further details: http://www.we-are-plan-a.com/lang/de/2012/04/digital-playdigital-play/.
  • 10th of May - TEXTILES FUTURS, Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture et de Paysage de Lille
I will discuss textile futures' materiality as part of the seminar series 'Matérialité' organised by LACTH, the Conception, Territory & History research lab of Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture et de Paysage of Lille.The presentation entitled 'Textiles futurs: Imaginer, matérialiser un nouveau paysage architectural' will showcase TFRC's research related to textile architecture & sustainable design including Carole Collet, Marin Sawa, Jane Scott's research as well as my own practice. This lecture will be in French.
For further details: www.lille.archi.fr/


Curlicue Coasters

Just in at the Puff & Flock shop: Colour changing Curlicue Coasters by Studio801.

Photography courtesy of Jo Russell Photography
The Curlicue Coasters are the latest product from Studio801 and use concrete, a relatively unusual material for tableware, in conjunction with a laser-cut, heat-sensitive inlay in a pattern based on traditional filigree designs. This inlay work creates the overall surface pattern of the coasters, and also emphasises the material differences between the rawer concrete and the high gloss thermochromic material.

This temperature sensitive material will change colour when hot objects are placed on it, going through a colour spectrum from deep red to dark blue to indicate temperature changes in the range of 25° to 30° and is triggered by direct sources like hot cups, and indirect sources such as the ambient temperature.

The choice of the two materials used for the coasters was critical to their development, as the ease of casting allowed negative space for the inlay to be developed, while the high thermal capacitance of concrete means that the inlay will still be affected long after any heat source has been removed, creating a sense of history of its use.

All images are courtesy of Jo Russell Photography (www.jo-russell.co.uk).


The Aurora Dress

While on the MA in Textile Futures at St Martins we were lucky enough to have electronic workshops with Francesca Rosella and Ryan Genz, the duo who are fashion company Cute Circuit. They taught us basic circuitry yet the work they produce is anything but. Around this time they had released the Hug shirt, a clever shirt that allowed you to send and receive hugs over long distances using blue tooth, your mobile phone and built in sensors.

We like to keep an eye on their new work, reporting on their success in 2010 after making outfits for Katy Perry. They have just presented a new Haute Couture piece, The Aurora Dress, designed exclusively for an opera performance at an annual event organised and hosted by the Swiss company Breitling. Made from chiffon, silk taffeta and hundreds of Svarovski crystals, the dress incorporates wearable technology that allows the dress to light up, flash and glow creating a stunning sparkling fascinating spectacle. 


Alongside there Haute Couture pieces they have designed exclusively for Selfridges and also produce ready to wear collections available to buy online.


Against Idleness by Frances Burden

An exhibition at the Danielle Arnaud Gallery
9th - 18th March 2011

Against Idleness is the first solo show by artist and friend Frances Burden. Having chatted about the progress of the work over the last year I was curious to see the her pieces in the flesh. 

On the first floor of a grand Georgian home on the Kennington Road, the Danielle Arnaud Gallery is the perfect setting for Frances's work. Her medium is embroidery, namely cross stitch on heavy unbleached canvas, her purpose to explore pattern making, experimenting in structure and systems within material constraints. 

Geometrics are explored in utilitarian colours, greys, muted greens, navy blue with squares of mustard yellow and zigzags of almost fluorescent orange. Shading is built by increasing density of cross stitch all set to a back drop of bare stone floors and simple period features. 

The exhibition finishes on Sunday with a gallery talk of Frances in conversation with contemporary artists Gerry Smith and Oona Grimes, 4-6pm. I recommend a visit.

Sustainable Fashion London Sample Sale

I've recently read the book 'Naked Fashion' by Safia Minney, founder and CEO of the award-winning Fair Trade and sustainable fashion label People Tree.  A high recommended read and a very impressive company - I'll post about soon.  In the meantime, here's a great opportunity to support the environment and social justice whilst bagging a lovely organic bargain too!  *Scroll down for a special voucher too for this weekend.


Ptolemy Mann at the Aram Gallery

Next Thursday,  a show of new textile work by Ptolemy Mann opens at the Aram Gallery in London.   

The Architecture of Cloth, Colour and Space is a solo show of her work. This touring exhibition, initiated by Ruthin Craft Centre and which opened there in November 2011, is a powerful colour saturated experience showing off Mann’s fantastic skill and her inventive approach to design practice. The exhibition showed a collection of recent work paying particular attention to a new IKAT collection which maintains a hand dyed and hand woven quality but adapted for digital print.

The exibition continues until Saturday, April 21st 2012
Mon - Sat 10 - 6 pm (Thur til 7)

The Aram Gallery
110 Drury Lane
Covent Garden, London


London Fashion Week Print review

Inspired by the innovative prints emerging from the fashion world, and the way digital textile print is affecting their style, I decided to take a small personal overview of the Autumn/Winter collections launched in London Fashion Week recently. Here's a few to get started, I'll add more when I've got more time!
First up, Mary Katrantzou, queen of over the top prints. A departure from her last season florals, I've picked three rather crazy outfits which made me smile.
The one in the middle with a typewriter on the top of the dress reminds me of the dressing up outfits I used to make in my youth like a dress with piano keys up my front.

Basso and Brooke: These three outfits are probably the most subtle, colourwise, from the collection.  They've got a sort of patchwork moodboard elegance.

The CSM graduate shows were as varied and boundary pushing as ever.  I liked these fresh designs from Charlotte Helyar with small splashes of digital print.

Another CSM graduate - Hiroko Nakajima.  These are knitted so shouldn't officially be in this print review but they act as a calming antidote to all the manic riotous patterns!
I love them for the simple graphic shapes and wonderful colours.