Hacking the Body is an ongoing series of performance investigation, by choreographer/technologist Kate Sicchio and media artist/curator Camille Baker, which highlights the issue of the collection of personal data by corporate and government entities, through the development of custom wearable and e-textile costumes and unique movement and choreographic investigations.
YOUR FAILED PROJECT:
Feel Me and Flutter / Stutter performance experiments and garments using DIY and off-the-shelf wearable tech, soft circuits/e-textiles that we augmented and hacked to make our own.
This project was both part of a choreographic practice as a practice-as-research platform. By making artistic work with wearables, we aim to explore what they might mean in a larger context – technically, philosophically and ethically.
As artists we question how bio-sensing and bio data demonstrates who we are as individuals, through movement, through our physiology? How does this unique individual data signature created through wearable technology relate to one’s performance expressivity and movement interaction? How can we explore these issues while enabling people access to their own data to interact with, and communicate with each, especially in performance contexts?
Hacking the Body develops methods of making using wearable sensing devices to access physiological data to create unique interactive performances. This project develops bespoke embedded sensing and actuation systems within costumes, to create various public performances, which explore how dancers interpret physical interactions triggered by devices on their bodies as a means of nonverbal communication and movement creation.
While in the prototyping phase of the project, we had many failures ranging from batteries exploding to awkward placement of sensors on the body. We learned that dancers are very specific users for wearables and really put our devices through their paces in terms of extreme testing of electronics and movement.
The project was developed into two separate dance pieces with two different approaches to wearable systems with haptic feedback. Flutter/Shutter was developed using DIY techniques to be more delicate and free in terms of movement. Feel Me was developed using more commercial productions that were hacked to effect more traditional choreography. Both pieces toured the UK.
We needed to fail in order to really see where we could push these devices and how they could potentially shape the choreography and performance. It was controlled or expected failure.
What is interesting about e-textiles to us is their relationship to the body. These are materials that you can wear and move in, but also materials can sense you and influence you. They can read the body from the inside out and produce data. They can actuate on the body to change you from the outside in and affect how you think and move with your body.
The world is interested in e-textiles for many reasons. Convenience, portability, efficiency, connectivity are all part of the wearables landscape. But the importance of the body, ethics and sustainability need to become more to the forefront of e-textiles as we are putting our bodies and our privacy on the line to achieve these goals.
E-textiles and sustainability need to be considered as we move forward with wearables. Where do our materials come from? Can they be recycled after use? More importance to how circular design and other approaches may develop e-textiles and wearables would help create a greener tech industry.