The Kinetic Energy of Systems
Interface-Fashion Human Design
Movement is intrinsic to human existence, to society, arts and fashion design evolution: simultaneously metaphorical and physic, movement allows evolution in every kind of senses. Philosophically, movement happens in an upward or forward direction, with positive semiotic semiotic positive and evolutionary connotations, but pendulum is also parte of the movement concept, directly related to speed.
As artistic movement, kinetic art – based on movement and related concepts – rises in the beginning of 20th Century, right after the absortion and exaltation of industrial revolution, industrial movement and urban life embrio as we know it today by culture, architecture and daily habbits, along with popularization of automobiles and the growing production of designed goods for household, in a mass production scale.
Its reflection on culture was born after a series of events, and simultaneously to the 1st World War, Bauhaus creation and the popular fascination with manifestations of economic, industrial and cultural power, concentrated in events such as the Paris World Exhibition. The machine magnification and the thrill of movement can be spotted in diverse cultural manifestations such as art and literature (i.e. , Álvaro de Campos exalts the machine in all its metallurgical blaze).
Art suffered changes due to countercharge, gradually stepping away from the factual representation of reality, as used to happen in the Renaissance, and previous periods of more concrete representation of reality, with portrait and landscapes emphasis. With the urban life and the resulting cultural and philosophical manifests, artistic reflexion started to bring to discussion another kind of thoughts and insight on individuals, creative evolution and society, hence the modern art arise. Specifically in kinetic art, framed between modern and post modern art, simply explained as the “art that explores visual effects through movement or mimics and interprets movement, through positioning and optical illusions”, its apotheosis is visible in relation with a changing society – 50ies and 60ies were a mark, both from the post-war and Cold War living experience perspective, as from the American Dream illusion, in the advent of more liberal political movements. In European society, struggling with physical reconstruction from wreckage, in the construction of a geographical unit of the continent, needing a mental scaling, the artistic expression, also in architecture, suffered geometrical changes resulting from this process. All these issues influenced the development of kinetic art strands, related with light fixtures, reinterpretation of junk art, as in the Marcel Duchamp and his paradigmatic works of art, and sculptures that drove the concept in movement.
In Nadir Afonso’s work, strongly influenced by architectural geometry and the evolution of 20th century art, and sipping from privileged European artistic centers such as Paris, where he studied painting, his work creates this same geometry as the European movements exalted, and was one of Kinetic Art pioneers, along with Victor Vasarely.
When chosing from his work, specifically from his Espacillimitè period, I chose an work that, even though statically disposed, allows us to understand the intrinsic movement of constrasts, colours and shapes - Espacillimité 1958. My choice fell into this work due to the dynamics of shapes and the interrelation between them, and the hidden potential of pattern details usage, specially due to the chosen accessory.
Revealing the metaphor of movement in the society, the choice of a clutch – a bag in movement, due to being used in the hand, arm or shoulder, but always an element being moved – is an object purposely redundant on the concept choice applied to the object.
This movement notion is fulfilled based on two parameters: the idea of movement of the object, providing a sight of different imagens depending on the observer’s point of view; or considering the object as the static point, and the observer as the translatory point.
The perception of movement by the observer is made by translation over the object – or translation over the observer, if the observer is the static point, adding another interpretation to the concept of movement.
To the point of interaction between observer and object, we’ll give the name of interface, visible graphic face of a message that is conveyed by a system for a user.
In the present project, the clutch served two purposes underlying to the concept: it is a material and logical device (due to its intrinsic underlying artistic concept) through which it passes a message to the observer / user, and becomes the limit which allows communication of the same message or information exchange. Both systems will me named as “clutch” and “observer”.
The fashion object suffers adaptations of various origins: context, size of person, purpose, accessories, season, material and interior design. If the piece is as interactive as we could see, it means it has to be a “living organism” in the sense of its plastic and elastic dimension, in different and versatile contexts.
Applied to a fashion look, the principle replicates necessarily, creating complete or partial interfaces of surfaces that mediate contact between the system - the human body - and the user / external environment - society and other social contexts. The definition as system where the information comes from (“handbag”) , in this project, merges with the interface itself, since the message is embedded in the interface. The user receives the message, through the idea embodied in the project, in an unidirectional relationship, but the underlying concept takes the project one step further.
The use of simple and unidirectional communication interface arises when applying the concept to the object, creating the pattern over the object, through a low-fidelity technology, with the same purpose of kinetic art itself - creating optical illusion of motion based on 2D visual effects - called lenticular, which consists of placing vertically two translucent layers, diagonally opposed to each other, so you can see a picture, then another. We call static application of technology at this stage of the project.
Fashion design as interface design is made up as a direct and unequivocal relation, and co-created with applied interactive co-creation. Ideally, this concept would be extended to the dynamical processing of pieces, in real time, and adjusting to the moment it is needed.
Metaphorically, we could use the concept of “Transformers”, the mechanical characters who could be connected and change its aspect on new creations, with a completely different utility, increasing its potential for destruction. In this case, the “interface transformer” aims to make the most of the garment as an object, and the object of fashion as an interaction subject in human society.
Using a deepening of the concept of energy while movement and energy generator, or motion as movement generator, through energy, we apply the principle of kinetic energy to a LED screen - used in the handbag flap - generating random images based on individual pattern elements, through the movement of the holder / carrier. This phase of the project would require an algorithm for generating random or statistical interpretation of the data. At this stage we call the application of digital technology.
In this line of thinking, creating fashion artifacts based on the principle of kinetic energy, and using the concept of bidirectional interface would require the system to react to the external environment, if we consider a handbag as a body worn garment. Considering the handbag, one of the output reactions would be the light of the LEDs fitting to the external environment (morning, evening, afternoon), or specific environments (gala, dinner, employment) with the modification or repetition of patterns, or could expand to other contexts and be applied to other fashion artifacts, without prejudice of material and climatic conditions.
If we use materials applied to fashion looks or artefacts, which as an interface, can react to the system and their surroundings - including both object’s bearer itself and observer - and so start to communicate a different message, we have another type of interaction based on energy.
For example, if we have a thermo-elastic material (i.e., memory latex) applied to a clutch that, with the stored heat on the hands, could alter and shape the object; or if we have a clutch that, according to movement or speed, could change color, as a thermometer.
Another application example are a pair of competition racing sneakers, including biometric interfaces that could measure medium speed of the athlete and change color or pattern according to that medium speed. Besides the statistical skills and performance measurement, it can work as styling in extreme situations. This behaviour could be monitored and programmed with a smartphone app, or created and instaled in sport wrist watches and other kind of acessories.
Other kind of aplication of this same technology could be in extreme temperature resistant garments. In clothing for polar regions or high altitude expedition teams, the garments could include biometric measurement to ensure that, for example, in case of hypothermia, the clothes’ color of the explorer would change, alerting the team for hypothermia risk, or, in case of solitary exploration, authorities overflying the location could be warned of someone in jeopardy.
Cumulatively, the clothing apparel itself could include a device to communicate biometric data from the explorer via satellite, directly related to his movement and energy, to send distress message in case of danger.
Finally, in a simplification of fashion as interface, and even in a more social perspective, fashion or style and the way we choose to dress ourselves, is the interface between a system - that we, as human beings, body, personality and beliefs, are - and another system - society.
The way that interface of ourselves - clothing and accessories - is expressed is what communicates who we are to the world. And if we are a living organism, if society is constantly changing, our interface-fashion can and should be a reflection of that change and movement, not always hostage of trends dictatorship, but in co-creation with designers, industry, and, if we choose, as an expression and customization for each individual, as has happened with the products from Nike with its Nike ID service.
Whether in logical areas - programming patterns and conveyed messages - whether in physical realms - the “interface transformer” logic, with modification and addition of physical parts to the piece. In constant motion and changing, by communicating every moment information from one system to another.