The fabric of the future won’t be just plain chiffon, silk or cotton. Instead electroluminescent material, microprocessors and LEDs may be woven together with clothing fibers to create smart textiles.
“Clothing can be considered a second skin and by implementing technology in it, you are bringing it into your intimate space,” says Nicky Assmann, an e-textile designer whose work was part of a recent exhibition in the Netherlands. “You are not just carrying technology like a laptop or an iPhone, but wearing it constantly.”
The exhibition, Pretty Smart Textiles, which closed last week, gave a glimpse into what happens when technology meets fashion. Among the exhibits were a dress made entirely of circuit boards that could also be used to generate music, a garment that when worn takes the sound of a heartbeat and other sounds from the body and remixes it into music, and a trenchcoat that reads fabric punch cards and tells stories.
Electronic textiles are outgrowing their geeky reputation, says Melissa Coleman, who with Dorith Sjardijn curated the exhibtion.
“The open source hardware movement has allowed for quicker and easier development of electronics and made it accessible to artists and designers,” says Coleman. “The result is that smart textile applications have become more interesting conceptually and aesthetically.”
The exhibition, which ended last week, featured 16 works and seven interactive samples.
Most of the artists who showed their work were women. “Electronic textiles appeal more to women than men,” says Sjardijn. “Women who are already in technology find it a nice way to combine the stuff that they find appealing with the more clinical world of technology and programming.”
A Musical Circuit Dress
A dress with 35 old circuit boards stitched together is not for everyone. But Nicky Assmann, who built the dress over a four month period, says she chose circuit boards as the fabric for her dress because she liked their look.
“There’s a certain aesthetic about them — they have many details and are very systematic, like a grid or a city map,” she says.
The circuit dress is not just clothing but also a musical instrument. The dress is based on the idea of circuit bending, which involves deliberately short-circuiting electronic musical devices to get unexpected noise.
Twelve coils are incorporated into the dress, each of which is played by connecting it to one another through copper finger plates. The musical composition results as the fingers explore the dress. There are two speakers on the front of the dress, and the entire dress runs on batteries.
The straps on the dress are made from electric cables that are are used for rewiring the circuit-bended board from the back to the coils to the front. “It’s very functional,” says Assmann, since it solved the problem of where to leave the wires.
Overall, the dress weighs about 20 pounds. Assmann says if she’s practicing for a performance, she can’t wear the dress for more than hour because the straps hurt her shoulder.
Ultimately, the idea of the musical circuit dress is to display what many people consider ugly when it comes to technology: the innards of a device with its circuit boards, the wires and the chips. Assmann, an artist who’s studying for her graduate degree in Music at the Royal Conservatory and Academy in Hague, says the circuit dress put an aesthetic that’s normally hidden out in the front.
“The unwearability of the dress defines its performance,” says Assmann.
Fuente: Gadget Lab