#096 Mar/Apr 2004



ISSN 1488-3635 #96, March - April 2004


* Editorial
* ISEA2004 News
* Introduction by Julianne Pierce, ISEA Board Member
* “Second Skin.  The art of smart garments. Interviewing Joanna
Berzowska, Katherine Moriwaki and Kristina Andersen” by Nina Czegledy

by Angela Plohman, ISEA Coordinating Director

Welcome to ISEA Newsletter #96, guest edited by Nina Czegledy, artist,
curator and chair of the ISEA Board. Over the last year and a half, we
have been privileged to have the bi-monthly ISEA newsletter guest edited
by a wide range of individuals active in the field of electronic arts,
focussing specifically on activities in their specific regions of the
world, and highlighting often lesser-known projects, people and
initiatives. In order to broaden the scope, we are also seeking to go
beyond geographical specificity, and explore other territories of
investigation that are culturally relevant to ISEA’s membership. This
edition of the ISEA newsletter does just this, a first look at the
subject of women and technology, with a focus on wearables. We hope that
this will be of interest to you and we are always open to new ideas and
suggestions. If you would like to guest edit one of the upcoming issues
of the newsletter, focused on a specific region or topic, please do not
hesitate to contact ISEA HQ. We look forward to hearing from you!

ISEA2004 News


Secure your access to the ISEA2004 symposium, including the
all-inclusive ferry cruise (meals, travel, programme all in one), and
register for the event at http://www.isea2004.net/tickets. By doing this
by April 23 you will get tickets for the reduced price.


We are delighted to announce some highlights from the ISEA2004 cruise
programme that interface live music, performances, funky club acts by
the most prominent members of contemporary dj and vj culture, sound
installations in unexpected places from lifts to swimming pools,
interactive mobile games, networking sessions and panels.

The entire ferry is turned into a multi-venue experience on the Main
Stage at the Metropolitan Club, the Karaoke and Disco Lounge, the Sonic
Pool, the Chill out deck as well as multiple workshop and network
meeting modules. Even the Silja Opera ferry itself becomes source
material for several projects. American artists Steve Bradley and Tim
Nohe for example electrify the elevators with "ferrite" sounds.

Each stage offers 24 hours of electronic music and live events spread
out over the two cruises. The Interfacing Sound Cruise has a stronger
focus on dance music while the Networked Experience cruise explores more
experimental edges of electronic music. Participants can also navigate
between live performances and interventions by ‘Open source sailors’ and
various project presentations.

Indeed, it is difficult to escape from interesting content on the ferry.
When you take a swim in the pool, an underwater sound by Tuomas Toivonen
will take you over - or rather in this case, under. The food menu on the
ship is "co-curated" by Silja Opera main chef and the gastronomic
ISEA2004 production team. It will be tough for the shy ones, as the ship
is a true social mixer. However, in the quiet of the cabins TV-channels
are programmed with special ISEA2004 screenings.

*Interfacing Sound Cruise (Helsinki-Stockholm), August 15, 2004*

The cruise kicks off in Helsinki, Finland, on August 15 with some 1400
participants boarding a cruiser ferry, the luxurious Silja Opera. This
newest member of the Silja fleet is often described as a floating
tropical island with pools, palms, jacuzzi and retractable glass roof.
The first part of the trip, the Interfacing Sound Cruise from Helsinki
to Stockholm, is organised in collaboration with Koneisto, the largest
festival of electronic music in Nordic countries. The Interfacing Sound
Cruise creates an electrified environment by mixing clubbing with video
and sound art, cruising with installations, actions and sonic experiments.

Musician and British DJ FreQ Nasty (Darin Mcfadyen) is known for nasty
breaks and classic releases, the latest of which ‘Bring Me the Head of
FreQ Nasty’ on Skint records. FreQ Nasty has collaborated with a range
of digital media artists and image makers to create The Video Nasty
Experience, a project extending the club environment by merging sound
and vision in an integrated, filmic style. The Video Nasty Experience
uses custom-designed graphics, text and seamlessly montaged 2D and 3D
animated characters. Currently FreQ Nasty is collaborating with Weta
Digital (New Zealand), known for the legendary Gollum character in the
Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Further video material is projected onto
smaller screens by FreQ Nasty and VJ Cindy Lee, who have joined forces
to create a visual representation and extension to the music as an
invitation to an audiovisual experience to watch, participate in and
dance to at the ferry’s groovy Metropolitan Night Club.

Petri Kola and Minna Nurminen are the artists behind the Sankari Show
(‘sankari’ means hero in Finnish), a live participatory impro show
combining stand-up comedy, drama and game. Sankari experiments with
bringing aspects of human relations to a game. For this purpose,
travellers participate in an interactive cinema-karaoke. In 2003,
Sankari won the MindTrek competition for acclaimed emerging Finnish
multimedia talent. The session at the ferry’s multi-screen Stardust
disco is hosted by Finnish musician Zarkus Poussa.

Media artists Tamas Szakal (Hungary) and Tuomo Tammenpää (Finland) are
the creators of the locative sound installation Float.  In Float, the
ship turns into a play-head and the route into a track. The surrounding
islands build the score of the sound installation, the ship playing the
track as it moves from one city to another. This unique experiment using
various streams of data (GPS coordinates, depth, direction, speed etc.)
results in a slowly developing soundscape that invites the travellers to
take a dose of the moment, to listen.

*Networked Experience (Stockholm-Mariehamn-Tallinn), August 16, 2004*

After the Interfacing Sound Cruise, the journey continues the next day
from Stockholm to ƒiland Islands and on to Tallinn under the file name
Networked Experience.

Icols (International Corporation of Lost Structures), a collaboration of
artists from across the globe, have designed ‘arms fair’ to act as a
catalyst and provocation to covertly animate narratives and histories,
such as Leonardo Da Vinci’s work as a designer of weapons, submarines,
tanks, flying machines, military complexes and bridges for the Duke of
Milan and Cesare Borgia. Complex shifts have occurred in the
relationships between the artist and the idea of warfare during
different expressions of modernism. Contemporary new media technology
that artists use is often connected with modern warfare, such as GPS,
augmented reality systems and VR-technologies. Icols presents a modified
‘arms fair’ in Mariehamn, capital of the demilitarized zone of ƒiland, to
explore these relations.

Musician, hypermedia developer and content designer Konrad Becker
created Monoton, the crucial Austrian electronic music act providing
distinguished soundscapes. The Wire magazine (#175) singled out
Monoton’s record Monotonprodukt07 among the 100 most important – and
ignored - records of the 20th century. Konrad Becker will trigger the
ferry audiences with minimalist rigour in a live-gig at the Metropolitan
Night Club. (For the Interfacing Sound Cruise Becker will perform Super
Mario and other Golden Classics, featuring a medley of 25 years of
electronic music and noise with a reference to console 8bit gamesongs
and a new flavour of garage.)

Lifeboat is a project dealing with concepts of sustainability, survival
and notions of biological, cultural and ideological re-generation, and
its obverse, the degradation of life and all its manifestations. The
project is contained within a lifeboat brought onto the Silja Opera
ferry especially for this project. The lifeboat has become home to a
Biotechnology lab producing tissue culture. Behind the project are the
Symbiotica members Oron Catts, Ionat Zurr, Guy Ben-Ary and Nigel Helyer.
Art and science collaborations are a larger theme within the ISEA2004
programme. Lifeboat will be part of a collaboration with Heureka, the
Finnish Science Centre as the artists will be doing preparatory works in
the centre’s Open Lab.

Syren is a shipboard version of augmented audio reality developed by the
New South Wales University, Australia. This system is developed for a
new sea faring experience by artist Nigel Helyer to operate a sonic
cartography in and around each of the ports that the ISEA2004 ferry
visits with some additional points en-route. Syren is designed to
operate with an array of surround sound speakers on one of the ferry’s
outdoor decks. Geo-spatial information will be automatically accessed as
the ship navigates the electronic charts associated with each of the
ports of call via a high-resolution GPS system coupled to a digital
compass. This positional information will in turn be used to render a
surround-sound (3D) sound-scape corresponding to proximate physical

The Networked Experience cruise will also include meetings, panels and
roundtable lunches for regional networks of new media practitioners from
Africa and Asia; discussion groups from MIT press; a panel on
international listserv culture with representatives of a range of new
media culture lists that emerged and flourished through the 90s
examining strategies in networking and list management to encourage
productive online communication spaces and industry specific meetings.

After the groundbreaking cruise, ISEA2004 continues in Tallinn and
Helsinki. Themes in Tallinn comprise Wearable Experience, Geopolitics of
Media and Critical Interdisciplines: research, science, art and
collaboration. ISEA2004 culminates in Helsinki with conferences,
exhibitions, performances and works in city spaces exploring the themes
Wireless Experience, Histories of the New, Critical Interaction Design
and Open Source and Software as Culture.


Welcome aboard!
ISEA2004 crew

by Julianne Pierce, ISEA Board Member

On behalf of the ISEA Board, I am pleased to introduce the ISEA
Newsletter #96, edited by the Chair of the Board, Nina Czegledy. For
many years, Nina has been a strong advocate for the field of art and
technology, as an artist, writer and curator. Through her international
projects and collaborations Nina has also strongly focussed on women
working with technology and digital media.

In this issue of the ISEA Newsletter, Nina takes the area of wearables
and 'smart' textiles and clothing as her topic. Increasingly dynamic
textiles, responsive garments and ubiquitous computing are becoming
areas of interest for artists as well as an expanding area for academic
research and development. Nina is interested in exploring how women are
involved in this growing field and in particular the perspective of
women who are developing the technology and applications for intelligent

A driving force behind much of this R & D is the development of
commercial applications. Nina is interested to investigate the role that
women are playing in this development and the discourses articulated
around the social and cultural implications of embedding technology into
textiles and clothing. What will it mean to wear intelligent clothing
and why do we want our fabrics to become electronic? These are some of
the questions explored by Nina in her interviews with Joanna Berzowska,
Katherine Moriwaki and Kristina Andersen, all leading researchers and
artists in this field.

We hope that you enjoy this Newsletter and I wish to thank Nina for
initiating this topical and interesting discussion. I also look forward
to meeting ISEA members and artists at ISEA2004, where we will have the
opportunity to sail on the ferry in our 'smart' outfits!

Julianne Pierce
ISEA Board, April 2004

Second Skin.  The art of smart garments.
Interviewing Joanna Berzowska, Katherine Moriwaki and Kristina Andersen
Nina Czegledy.

This past January at the Paris fashion shows, Emanuel Ungaro "chose to
flaunt extraordinary swirls of colour, micro-miniskirts and ruffles and
veils that could make sitting in a taxi or eating lunch physically
impossible" reported the Economist in its March 16th, 2004 issue. While
extravagancies of high couture present one extreme of the apparel
spectrum, the chunkiness of smart clothes/ wearables, seemed to be
equally inadequate for every-day use. Not anymore, as due to rapidly
developing technologies, ongoing miniaturization and the production of
materials equipped with special properties it became possible to
integrate information and intelligence into single materials that can
sense and interact. On first sight this "stuff" is deceptive as it might
appear as silk fabric or a handbag - yet on close inspection, it
functions entirely different from conventional materials. How? This and
other questions will be explored through the practice of three artists
working with responsive garments.

I became genuinely fascinated with garment-based interfaces and wearable
tools when I first heard Joey Berzowska 's presention on "bridging the
gap between the world of fashion, consumer electronics and emerging
technologies". Subsequent meetings with Katherine Moriwaki and Kristina
Andersen bolstered my attraction to wearables and led to the following
interviews and ensuing collaborations. As an introduction it is
sufficient to say that not only is the development of responsive,
intelligent objects/textiles a priority for many corporations, it is
also claimed as a primary goal of our knowledge based society to
integrate smart technology into our surroundings. It is no wonder that
today some commercially available clothes contain vitamins and
moisturizing creams, allow the measuring and monitoring of individual
biometric data, and combine conductive fabric structures with microchip
technology. Some of these products by combining various resources such
as energy source, memory and communication tools, effectively provide an
interface between an individual and his/her environment and thus
function as an interactive second skin,

I would like to sincerely thank Joey, Kristina and Katherine for their
generous contribution.


Joanna Berzowska is an Assistant Professor of Design Art and Digital
Image/Sound at Concordia University in Montreal. Her work and research
deal primarily with "soft computation": electronic textiles, responsive
clothing as wearable technology, reactive materials and squishy
interfaces. She is the founder of XS design studio in Montreal. She is
the founder and senior design advisor of International Fashion Machines
in Boston, where she developed the first electronic ink wearable
animated display and Electric Plaid, an addressable color-change
textile. She received her Masters of Science from MIT for her work
titled Computational Expressionism. She worked with the Tangible Media
Group of the MIT Media Lab on research projects such as the
musicBottles. She directed Interface Design at the Institute for
Interactive Media at the University of Technology in Sydney. She holds a
BA in Pure Mathematics and a BFA in Design Arts. Her art and design work
has been shown in the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum in NYC, SIGGRAPH, Art
Directors Club in NYC, Australian Museum in Sydney, NTT ICC in Tokyo and
Ars Electronica Center in Linz among others. She has lectured about the
intersections of art, design, technology and computation at SIGGRAPH,
Banff New Media Institute in Canada and Interaction Design Institute
Ivrea in Italy among others.

Nina Czegledy: For those who are unfamiliar with this field, please
describe the concepts of Tangible Media, Soft Computing and Electronic

Joanna Berzowska: Tangible Media is a term coined by Hiroshi Ishii of
the MIT Media Lab to describe tangible user interfaces which employ
physical objects, surfaces, and spaces as tangible embodiments of
digital information. These include foreground interactions with
graspable objects and augmented surfaces, exploiting the human senses of
touch and kinesthesia. They also include the idea of background
information displays that use "ambient media" (light, sound, airflow,
and water movement) to communicate digitally-mediated information at the
periphery of human awareness.

Smart Materials (such as "smart fabrics") can be thought of as materials
that replace machines and have the potential to simplify engineering
considerably. They integrate the functionality of various separate parts
into a single material. This is mechanically efficient because it
eliminates the need for parts to be physically interconnected.

Electronic textile (sometimes called "smart fabrics" or "wearables")
refers to a textile substrate that integrates capabilities for sensing
(biometric or environmental), wireless communication, power transmission
and interconnection technology to allow sensors or things such as
information processing devices to be networked together within a fabric.
The substrate for an electronic textile (the textile "circuit board") is
often constructed from various conductive yarns instead of wires.

Soft Computing is a term that I use to describe the use of conductive
yarns and fabrics, active materials and flexible sensors to allow the
construction of electronic circuits on soft substrates. It implies a
move away from traditional electronics and an exploration of emergent
materials that can enable physical computation for the body and personal

NC: When I first heard you talk about your research at MIT, I was
impressed by your emphasis on the aesthetic quality and the social
aspects of wearable computing. Is this a consistently important
consideration in your work?

JB: My research focuses on the development and design of electronic
textiles and wearable technology in a social and cultural context. I
develop hardware and design electronic fabric applications that focus on
aesthetics and the idea of play, as opposed to the prevalent utilitarian
focus of wearable technology design on universal connectivity and
productivity applications.

In terms of wearable computing, we have to step back and ask why do we
want our fabrics to be electronic? What kind of information processing
do we want to carry out on our bodies? What kind of functionality do we
want to enable inside our clothes? The clothing and electronic
industries are looking for the killer app, the next big thing that will
introduce wearable computing to a mass market. At the same time, many
research directions are misguided. The prevalent focus on health
monitoring and surveillance technologies for
children and the elderly clearly reflects the military funding
structures and fails to deliver appealing product ideas.

Wearable technology in the form of clothes is thousands of years old.
Clothing is our personal interface to the world. Mihaly
Csikszentmihalyi writes that physical artifacts help us objectify the
self in three ways. They can be viewed as symbols of personal power,
symbols of the continuity of the self through time, involvement in the
present, mementos of the past and signposts to the future and symbols of
the permanence of relationships that define the individual in a social
framework. The idea of costuming is thousands of years old and is
effectively used to hide, reveal and distort the self that we present to
the world. We use clothing to express a lot of things: social class,
economic class, mood, self-esteem, sexuality, profession, religion and
overt labeling through labels with the associated
lifestyle future promised by advertising.

The killer app for wearable computing is to convey personal identity
information. This is called fashion and it is mostly visual.

In my research group, we are developing dynamic clothing, which has the
ability to change color, shape or texture over time. We are also
developing reactive clothing that responds to input with sound,
animation or some other state change. The behavior depends on materials
used in the construction of the garment, either structurally, as an
embedded element or as decoration. We can think of clothing as a second
skin that allows us to construct meaning in interaction with the world.
One application of reactive fashion is to enable the idea of changing
our skin, our identity and our cultural context.

NC: Tell us more about "affective sensing" and "meaningful body data

JB: It is easy to get sensor data. We can sense position and
acceleration. We can track gaze; record muscle tension. With instruments
such as a Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) sensor, a Blood Volume Pulse
(BVP) sensor, a Respiration sensor and an Electromyogram (EMG) we can
even suggest some degree of "affective sensing"... The hard part is to
develop meaningful mappings.

One approach is to construct costumes (wearable "instruments") that
constrain/invite very specific physical movement by imposing physical
constraints or deploying restraining accessories.

In my current production-based research, I develop enabling technology
for electronic textiles based upon my theoretical evaluation of the
historical and cultural modalities of textiles as they relate to future
computational forms. My work involves the use of conductive yarns and
fibers for power delivery, communication and networking, as well as new
materials for display that use electronic ink, nitinol and thermochromic
pigments. The textiles are created using traditional textile
manufacturing techniques: spinning
conductive yarns, weaving, knitting, embroidering, sewing and printing
with inks.

NC: In the introduction to your Mythic Object course, you noted the
increasingly pervasive deployment of technology, computation and
communications in everyday objects Can you elaborate on this?

JB: We live in a complex world composed of bits and atoms. We regularly
interact with people, computers and other objects in the environment.
The computing and communication capabilities we integrate into physical
objects are rapidly increasing, but do not necessarily translate into
"rich" interactions. As thinkers and designers, it is imperative to
ensure that the interactions between people, computers and the physical
environment are useful, enjoyable and, most importantly, meaningful.

NC: Do your students become involved with a hands-on approach in their

JB: I teach two courses at Concordia right now that deal with these
general topics. Both of them involve lots of studio work, including
production of physical objects and work with simple electronics.  See:
  Second Skin and Soft Wear
Tangible Media and Physical Computing

NC: How do you see the future use of dynamic textiles and responsive

JB: Electronic textiles, also referred to as smart fabrics, are quite
fashionable right now. Their close relationship with the field of
computer wearables gives us many diverging research directions and
possible definitions. On one end of the spectrum, there are pragmatic
applications such as military research into interactive camouflage or
textiles saturated with nanorobots that can heal wounded soldiers. On
the other end of the spectrum, work is being done by artists and
designers in the area of reactive clothes: "second skins" that can adapt
to the environment and to the individual. Fashion, health and
telecommunication industries are also pursuing the vision of clothing
that can express aspects of people's personalities, needs and desires or
augment social dynamics through the use and display of aggregate social


Katherine Moriwaki is an artist and researcher investigating networks,
wearables, and the experiential resonance of technologically mediated
public space. Currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the Networks and
Telecommunications Research Group (NTRG) at Trinity College Dublin,
Katherine's dissertation is focused on creative and artistic
applications of networked communications and emergent behavior in public
space. In addition to her research, Katherine teaches in the Department
of Computer Science and the Department of Electronic and Electrical
Engineering at Trinity. Formerly a Design Fellow at Parsons School of
Design Katherine co-developed and taught "Fashionable Technology", an
interdisciplinary collaboration studio exploring the interstices of
wearable technology, art, and fashion. Her work has appeared in IEEE
Spectrum Magazine, and has presented at numerous festivals and
peer-reviewed conferences.

NC: Can you describe wearables in your own words?

Katherine Moriwaki: In common usage, "wearables" are referred to
computational technology, which is mounted or embedded onto the physical
body. It is most often associated with wearable computing -and in the
popular mind, might be associated with cyborgs and geeks. But I think
wearables encompass a large area of work, which interfaces with the
body, and has a tradition and history that traces back to ritual body
modification and includes common forms of "technology" such as
corrective lenses or pocket organizers. It is important to point out
that there are many different kinds of "wearables" whose usefulness and
application in real life range from military, industrial, and
entertainment, contexts. When I use the term "wearables" I am typically
referring to fashionable, aesthetic and playful works which perform the
function of mind/body augmentation first referred to by Vannevar Bush,
but in a critical and thought-provoking way.

NC: Your work is often focused on urban public environment - how and
when did you become interested in wearable projects?

KM: I have had a variety of influences at different stages in my life. I
think my current interests reflect my long standing interest in fashion
and the body. I used to make my own clothes as a young kid, and my
mother was trained in the performing arts and modern dance, so there was
always an aspect of the aesthetic and performative in my life. As for
combining those interests with digital technologies I suppose things
really started to connect while I was doing my Master's at the
Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University's Tisch
School of the Arts. And I must admit that work by Philips' Intelligent
Fibres Division, and Maggie Orth were hugely inspirational for me at the
time, showing a real break-away vision from the geek aesthetic of
wearable computing into something softer and more socially appealing. As
for my interest in the urban public environment, many of my early
formative experiences unfolded in two very different but well known
cities: Los Angeles and New York. There was a time when I had a very
active relationship between these two places, and the process of
negotiation, of understanding and moving between divergent physical and
psychic realities was very powerful. I have a background in Film and the
multiplicity of Narrative. Central to this experience is the body. It is
the first interface and clothing and personal accessories can be seen as
extensions of that. I like to think my work occupies the contested
ground upon which other disciplines converge.

NC: How would you describe your work-methodology?

KM: My methodology is comprised of both art and interaction design
practice. Often I'm looking at the social and cultural dimension of new
technology rather than producing solutions, or optimizing a technology.
I see my work as comprised of creating relationships, of providing
alternative ways of relating to the self and the environment. I tend to
approach issues from a variety of angles. This will include research
about a particular topic, as well as design studies and observation.
Each project is different. I don't have a formula but I do continue to
work with the dialogue created by my own ideas and others‚ reactions and
thoughts. I work a lot with the process of disruption‚ and the value of
things that break. For example, it is the goal of many designers to have
things work perfectly but we live in an imperfect world, in which
rupture and breakage are everyday components of living. It is these
moments, which often yield great insight into questions about technology
that, need to be asked. I like to think of programming bugs and
unintended consequence. It's those unexpected challenges that are most
difficult and interesting. I like to see my work as exploring aspects of

  NC: Can you tell me about networked garments, specifically your own
projects and the element of unpredictability?

KM: I see networked garments as a part of the long tradition of
telematic art, as well as a natural consequence of the increasing
proliferation of communications technology into our everyday life. In a
world of ubiquitous computing, it would only seem natural that clothing
would acquire new communicative possibilities. Ideas related to networks
and networking are very topical right now and the ways in which clothing
and accessories insinuate themselves into our sense of self and identity
is a powerful issue as more and more of our surroundings are networked
with computational technology.

In most of my projects I have dealt with networking, if even in a very
simple or basic way. RADIUS for example used the movement of the body to
drive a visual display on a skirt. The larger idea for the project was a
network of garments, which could communicate their use of patterns to
each other. Also, I was interested in clothing as an "unexpected canvas"
and designed the skirt to appear for all intents and purposes as a
"normal skirt" whose only indication of an electronic component was in
the sporadic movement of the wearer triggering small lights within the

RECOIL deals more with proxemics, and how connections between the self
and others are altered by disruption to ordinary physical patterns
people have grown accustomed to. For example, in New York City subways,
people often avoid touching each other, or form their own „space
bubble". Unwanted closeness or encounters with others is seen at best as
an inconvenience, with the main desire to move efficiently from one
point to another. My conception with RECOIL was to draw attention to the
physicality of our bodies, as an interface and of our sense of self to
re-assert bodily awareness. To do this, I used magnets embedded in
clothing to create unexpected and sometimes inappropriate connections
between the body, others, and the environment. When a person wears a
RECOIL garment, there is a sense of having to "re-learn" how to move and
interact physically with others. The unpredictability of one's physical
and bodily configurations, the lack of control, is an opening for new
experience but also evolves into a new opportunity for self-expression.
RECOIL can be seen as a networked garment but at a level of actual
physical contact.  With Umbrella.net and another new project,
Oscillating Windows - I am exploring two aspects of group behavior and
network communications: circumstance and enforced cooperation.

Umbrella.net requires a spontaneous emergence of circumstance -think of
flash mobs, but without the conscious planning. Unexpected occurrences
challenge personal body space but with Umbrella.net, rather than
directly challenging the physicality of an individual, Umbrella.net
seeks to challenge the individual's concept of what physical co-location
can mean, to make the individual aware of small actions and how these in
aggregate can create later effects. By making the individual aware of
"the network" Umbrella.net seeks to give form to the many underlying
networks which pervade our public space. By channeling this connection
through a common accessory, such as an umbrella, the heritage of
material objects, and their relationship to our sense of self,
contribute to the experience in a way that totally differs from simply
using some communications 'device', that does not carry a rich context
and history. I think this distinction matters, and is partially why
fashionable 'wearables', can catch the imagination and enthusiasm of the
general public.

Oscillating windows looks at 'enforced cooperation'‚ or the dynamics of
self-interest, and how this creates opportunities for new network
relationships. We have been doing a lot of recent research on
oscillating windows and some very interesting issues are emerging with
the project. For example: if people 'are the network' in multi-hop
dynamic routing ad-hoc networks, that is, the network communications
infrastructure is dependent on a critical mass of mobile nodes to
transmit its message ˆ how do we make people aware of, and interested in
the possibilities that network might afford? Can we use this critical
mass for artistic and creative aims? Can we use this new technical
capability to frame and address interpersonal communication? I say
definitively, yes! Aspects of proximity and interrelation in public
space intersect dynamically with fashion and social signification in
public space. Recent workshops show that when people are aware that they
are 'carrying' part of the network they respond with defensive and
playful behaviors. These behaviors are central to any sort of
interactive exchange between people, but the addition of computational
and communications technology adds an extra dimension that can help us
to better understand where and how these technologies should integrate
into our lives.

NC: What is your vision of a world where responsive garments become
common place?

KM:  I usually have two scenarios attached to such a future. In one, we
are given all of these capabilities for expressing ourselves in a
variety of modes. It is human nature to communicate, and I am
continually impressed by how that desire and capability takes form. So
in this future, we develop an enhanced awareness of systems and
processes, which have always occurred around us, but the additional
perspective of wearables and responsive garments allow us to see these
patterns with greater clarity. We gain in self-understanding and
enhancement of the self.

The other less utopian scenario sees us overburdened in an increasingly
scripted world of hyper-interactivity. Wearables are the manifestation
of our psychological neuroses, serving as the channel for nagging
insecurity, or as artificial means of bolstering an increasingly
fragmented sense of self. Here wearables are commerce driven
apparitions, which have taken physical form, latching onto us, and
holding tight until death.

The real future is somewhere in-between. Most of the fun is in
determining the middle ground.


Kristina Andersen, works with interactions and concepts to create
unusual objects, protocols and experiences using iterative processes
informed by games and play. She holds an MA specializing in wearable
computers, an MSc [distinction] specializing in tangible objects in
virtual spaces, and was a research fellow at the Interaction Design
Institute Ivrea (IT), where in collaboration with Margot Jacobs and
Laura Polazzi she worked on the FARAWAY project. The latter researches
and creates interactions using sensory and symbolic aspects of emotions
in order to convey a sense of presence between people who are physically
distant but emotionally close. Other recent projects include Whisper, in
collaboration with Thecla Schiphorst and Suzan Kozel, where the emphasis
lies on using physiological data as input for an audio-visual
environment and responsive intelligent garments. She is currently artist
in residence at STEIM (Studio for Electro-Instrumental Music) in
Amsterdam working on 'ensemble', a set of sensor-based wearable musical
controllers developed for musical experiences for children as well as
honorary visiting design fellow at the University of York.

NC: How did you become interested in responsive garments and wearables?

Kristina Andersen: I was interested in the space of the 10 centimetres
immediately outside our bodies and the way we negotiate the issues
around permission, movement and intimacy close to us. Clothing operates
in exactly this zone, we carry it for protection or show and as such it
communicates symbolically both with the body inside and the space outside.

Also I come from a family with strong tradition for fabric-based crafts
so working with thread and fabrics was an obvious choice for me. It is a
means of prototyping and production that I can own and control and that
makes me more independent.

NC: Your latest projects especially the 'ensemble' works in progress
focused on interaction with children are fascinating.. Can you describe
your concept and motivation?

KA: 'ensemble' is an investigation into sensors and sound. The system
consists of seven garments fitted with wireless sensors that control
sound samples and modifiers in real time. The garments are played with
by small groups of pre-school children.

The sensors used are light-sensors, accelerometers, pressure-sensors,
linear expansion (pull), sonar (distance) and tilt. The sensors are
placed in

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