In Step (2007)
In Step was a wearable artwork consisting of a pair of embroidered foot bandages and an actuator ‘cushion’ embedded with 15 electromechanical actuator pistons. The bandage was embedded with woven, soft and flexible fabric sensors - interconnected with metallic connecting threads, fasteners and a wireless interface (in a final form). When wrapped around a foot and lower leg the sensors sat on the ball of the toes and heel. This ‘wearable interface’ was then connected wirelessly to a soft sculptural form, which employed actuators to tap gently in response to the qualities of the walk detected by the soft sensors. In this way the ‘tread qualities’ of the walker could then be felt by someone else holding this device against their stomach – thereby allowing pairs of participants to ‘feel’ the tactile qualities of the other's walk. The work was presented both as a working object and via a short videorecorded performance.
1: WearNow Symposium. ‘TECH’ is the new ‘BLACK’, 3 February, 2007, Australian National Museum, Canberra, Australia. Curated by ANAT.
2: WearNow Exhibition, ANU Textile & Jewelry Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, 2nd Feb, 2007
3: Wear Now Shopfront Exhibition, Electrofringe Festival, 27 Sept.–1 Oct. 2007, Darby Street, Newcastle, Australia. Curated by High Tea With Mrs Woo.
TEAM: Keith Armstrong (Artistic director), High Tea With Mrs Woo - Rowena Foong, Julianna Fong & Angela Foong. (Fashion/Textile Designers) & Leah Heiss (Actuator Physical Design)
PARTNERS: Australian Network for Art and Technology, National Museum if Australia, ANU School of Art.
This work was created during the ANAT reSkin COMPUTER COUTURE LAB, Mon 15th Jan – Thurs 1st Feb 2007, Australian National University, Canberra.
MORE: In Step generated innovative new approaches to interface and sensor embedded clothing/footware whilst also creating an evocative vehicle to comment upon contemporary Post Colonial theories of weight and groundedness – particularly the psycho-geographical ‘separation’ from the landscape that inspired Paul Carter’s “environmentally grounded poetics”. The work’s final form also suggested critical new directions for responsive clothing and footwear for the emerging genre of smart textiles.
UNDERLYING IDEAS: Paul Carter writes, “Let the ground rise up to resist us, let it prove porous, spongy, rough, irregular – let it assert its native title, its right to maintain its traditional surfaces”. In Step considers how we might “release the ground for movement in order to release our movement for the ground” - I argue that at present we move with an 'extreme lightness' on the ground resulting from our 'extraordinary heaviness' upon it - yet we sense our “ungroundedness, the fragility of our claim on the soil”, demonstrated through our “engineering instinct to wipe it out; to lay our foundations on rationally apprehensible level ground”.