Congratulations to Sasha de Koninck, our 2015 Summer Stipend Recipient

Goal: My work is a presentation of a multisensory experience, through the research and development of smart textile material for the body that is intimate, sensitive and loud. Clothing reveals the details and the subtleties of our personalities and life that can’t always be explained in words. As material, the textile in a garment is something that is the closest thing to our skin, our shield, and security.

Smart textiles have introduced me to responsive materials that express a change of state and talk back. Smart textiles allow me to use touch as a way to activate the artwork. It invites you to participate, touch and react to its response.

I have spent the past year developing pressure-sensitive material knit with a waffle structure and a conductive yarn. This simplifies construction and the sensors can be seamlessly integrated into the cloth. This textile is being used in a series I call, Garments for Uncomfortable Social Situations. When I am uncomfortable, I play with my clothes. The textile will generate sound in response to the manipulation of the garments.

My focus into the field of wearable technology has led me to create my own conductive fabrics and textile sensors. The Garments for Uncomfortable Social Situations will be the first project in a series expanding upon the idea of what it means to be uncomfortable and the role our clothing plays in that situation. In my previous work I have turned the body into an instrument where I invited interaction and participation. Now I want to explore the other side of that — unwanted interaction.

Needs: To finish the project, I need to raise the funds needed to pay for production. Production will be taking place in September at the TextielLab in Tilburg, the Netherlands. The TextielLab is an outsourcing facility for artist and designer led projects. It is attached/affiliated with the TextielMuseum. I am one of a few artists from the United States who has had their project accepted for production at their facilities. For eight days of development and production I need to raise $3,063.00. My goal is to raise half the amount through various grants and the other half in crowdfunding, that way it is a more attainable goal.

Timeline: I intend to finish the project by late fall, which will be shown at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Before September, I need to make final modifications to the garment patterns, and decide on the technology I will be using — specifically, what type of micro-controller and circuit. Production will happen in September, from the 8th-18th. After production, I will be deep into coding and finalizing the sonic response of the garments.

Description: The Garments for Uncomfortable Social Situations is a series of knitwear designed to be manipulated when the wearer is anxious. Knitwear allows for seamless integration of the sensor and seamless transition from conductive yarn to regular yarn. The way a knit is constructed — by building the shape of the garment while simultaneously constructing the textile- – allows the conductive yarn to be kept as a continuous filament within each pattern piece.

The waffle knit structure builds a three-dimensional textile that responds as a pressure sensor. A pressure sensor is a layer of resistive material between two pieces of conductive material. When pressed, the amount of resistance changes. The three-dimensional waffle structure changes resistance when squeezed or pressed. Another activation of the pressure sensor is our skin’s conductivity. When we are uncomfortable, we sweat, and the amount of sweat present in the skin affects its conductivity. Not only is the textile a pressure sensor, but it can also harness galvanic skin response, like a lie detector, and use that as an activator.

When the waffle knit pressure sensor is activated, it will have a sonic response. The sound will be generated by the action. So when uncomfortable, and manipulating the clothing, the wearer becomes a composer. The garment is the cello and uncomfortableness is the bow.

Each garment is designed with a specific action in mind. The different actions focus on different parts of the body — face, arms, chest, waist and hips. The specifics of the action are built in to the shape of the garment. A drawstring tightens a section to reveal or conceal. Too long sleeves need to be pulled up and up and re-adjusted. Seams twist endlessly around the body creating a whirlpool. The shape of each garment corresponds with different degrees of uncomfortableness.