This project investigates the relationship between the styling of the human voice, fashion, digitally-mediated art, participatory performance, audience experience, and the staging of the fashioned self.
As you enter the thrumming, glowing space, you see the silhouette of a sharply-defined trench coat suspended, buttons open: waiting for you to become your own, retro-futuristic Bogart/Bacall. You slide it on and the tender hiss of its arm is amplified – a glissando of sung sound courses out of the friction and movement.
You’re curious, and laugh. The trench coat picks up your voice from your laughter, and when you slide the next arm on, it’s your own voice that sings back. Each arm is a chorus of you. You wave them and play, and notice that the timbres and textures and pitches shift. Vibration seems to come right out of the voices and shimmer up your back in a growing patch. You pop up the collar, and percolating fizz of fabric mixes with some steely high notes. You decide to go for the hat.
As you put it on, multi-coloured lights shape a runway in front of you – you walk into it, and the hat sings too! You become a chorus of voices, yours and yet not yours, being shaped by your movements, by the heat from your body, by the tiny electrical currents in your skin. Your clothing styles your voice; your voice styles touch and vibration… In the wider building, a diaphanous gown, heavy culottes, a barbed corset, and crisply stiff gloves also capture voice and shape it. You and other audience are each other’s show, and you are the stars…
The description you just read articulates a vision for an immersive, participatory art experience, that entices the user into exploring the relationship between how we fashion ourselves, stage ourselves, and glory in the dramatic amplification of the fashioned self across sensory registers. We work toward making this kind of vision possible, and to learn from it.
In the first instance, we focus on developing a series of garment prototypes, animated by a range of sensor and other haptic technologies. These capture the participant’s spoken voice, and then shape it; sensors perceive the body’s reactions to clothing, and the qualities of movement the garments inspire, and then we use this data to shape the characteristics of a chorus of singing voices, that radiate out from the garment. Haptic, vibrational response to the changing singing voices animate the garment, too. We immerse the participant in their fashioned voice, and ‘touch’ them with it.
Apart from the theoretical aspect of the Fashioning Voice project the technical part had its own changeless.
- What kind of sensor to use
- How the sensors will work individually and as a whole
- Where to place them on the garment
- How to integrate them while making the garment
- How the wearer will activate, control, perform with the sensors
- What kind of gestures should/can the wearer do
In addition, we considered other technical issues
- The use of a wireless, battery powered device
- Ability to recharge the battery with easy
- How to integrate a wireless microphone
- The weight of the electronics
- How to make the technology invisible