[1] Foster, H, 1988. Vision and Visuality.

[2] Cartwright, L and Sturken, M. 2001. Practices of Looking. An Introduction to Visual Culture2.

[3] Rogoff, I, 1998. ‘Studying Visual Culture’. The Visual Culture Reader, 2: 24-36.

[4] Torres, L M G. 2018. Towards a Practice of Unmaking (Doctoral dissertation, University of the Arts London).

[5] Krauss, R, 1979. ‘Sculpture in the Expanded Field’. October, 8: 31-44. 

[6] Meskimmon, M. 2003. Corporeal Theory With/in Practice: Christine Borland's Winter Garden. Art History26(3): 442-455.

[7] Allan, L, Choi, B, Krauß, A and van der Heide, Y, eds. 2018. Unlearning Exercises: Art Organizations as a Site for Unlearning. Valiz, book and cultural projects.

[8] Kagan, J, 2002. Surprise, Uncertainty, and Mental Structures. Harvard University Press.

[9] Bippus, E, 2013. Artistic Experiments as Research. Experimental Systems. Future Knowledge in Artistic Research, 121-134.

[10] De Assis, P, 2015. ‘Epistemic Complexity and Experimental Systems in Music Performance’. Artistic Experimentation in Music, An Anthology, 41-54.

[11] Scrivener, S, 2013. ‘Towards a Practice of Novel Epistemic Artefacts’. Experimental Systems: Future Knowledge in Artistic Research, 135-150.

[12] Latour, B, 2007. Reassembling the Social: An introduction to actor-network-theory. Oup Oxford.

[13] Hallnäs, L, 2010. ‘The Design Research Text and the Poetics of Foundational Definitions’.

[14] Thornquist, C. 2014. ‘Basic Research in Art: Foundational problems in fashion design explored through the art itself’. Fashion Practice6(1): 37-57.

[15] Schwab, M, ed. 2013. Experimental Systems: Future knowledge in artistic research. Leuven University Press.

[16] Thornquist, C. 2015. ‘Material Evidence: Definition by a series of artefacts in arts research’. Journal of Visual Art Practice14(2): 110-119.

[17] Najafi, S. 2012. Curiosity and Method: Ten Years of Cabinet Magazine. Cabinet Books.

[18] Hallnäs, L and Redström, J. 2006. Interaction Design: Foundations, experiments. Textile Research Centre, Swedish School of Textiles, University College of Borås and Interactive Institute.

[19] Grabes, H. 2008. Making Strange: Beauty, Sublimity, and the (post) modern ‘Third Aesthetic’. (Vol. 42). Rodopi.

[20] Gritten, A. 2014. ‘The Subject (of) Listening’. Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology45(3): 203-219.

[21] Stasiulyte, V. 2020. Wearing Sound: Foundations of Sonic Design (Doctoral dissertation, Högskolan i Borås).

[22] Pink, S, Akama, Y and Sumartojo, S. 2018. Uncertainty and Possibility: New approaches to future making in design anthropology. Bloomsbury Publishing.

[23] Higgins, H. 2002. Fluxus Experience. University of California Press.

[24] Schulze, H. 2017. ‘The Sonic Persona: An Anthropology of Sound’. In Exploring the Senses. Routledge India. pp.164-175.

[25] Ciciliani, M. 2017. ‘Music in the Expanded Field – On recent approaches to interdisciplinary composition’. Darmstädter Beiträge zur Neuen Musik24: 23-35.

[26] Beegan, G and Atkinson, P. 2008. ‘Professionalism, Amateurism and the Boundaries of Design’. Journal of Design History21(4): 305-313.

Visual culture studies focus heavily on the critical exploration of the concept of ‘visuality’, or the act of seeing as a socially and culturally constructed practice [1]. As Sturtken and Cartwright [2] write for example, visual culture researchers maintain that what enables us to see certain things is determined by specific ‘practices of looking’ that allow us to adopt specific ‘gazes’ in the visual perception of the world. This ocular-centred approach eliminates some communities, such as the visually impaired. Can fashion be more inclusive, considering and involving everyone? Sound to Wear is an alternative practice of ‘looking at’ or ‘perceiving’ fashion; it is a proposed practice of co-listening and co-sounding that is based on curiosity, embodied cognition and relations. As Rogolf [3] states, ‘Curiosity implies a certain unsettling; a notion of things outside the realm of the known, of things not quite understood or articulated’. This exposition explored this and suggested an alternative experimental design research programme for sonic design that could be seen as a methodology for rethinking fashion. By challenging visual-material thinking with sonic-material thinking, the research programme presented in this exposition conducted open-ended experiments and hybrid practices and provided a foundational framework for experimentation. An investigation into sonic expressions is seen as a disruptive fashion practice: exploring how critical fashion practices can construct their own understandings of what fashion is facilitates understanding of post-disciplinary approaches to fashion [4]. This research practice is considered an expanded fashion practice [5] that involves other disciplines such as performance, sound art, music composition, philosophy. It not only aims to collect and dig into experiences, but also to prompt curiosity and an approach to experimental/alternative practices through different space-time-object-body relations. By building alternative theory, ‘theory as practice becomes as embodied, living space of inquiry’ [6]. Here, then, art- and design education are understood as offering perspective(s), rather than being fixed entities: shifting from knowings and doings to beings and becomings towards the exploration of possible edges/margins and what lies beyond them.


The research process is seen as an unlearning practice. It challenges what is established and questioned what is accepted; it relates to one’s ability to choose an alternative model or paradigm. It is not about ignoring what one already knows, but about questioning the known in order to detect the unknown. As Allan et al. [7] state, unlearning denotes an active critical investigation of normative structures and practices in order to become aware of and rid oneself of presumed ‘truths’ of theory and practice. The unlearning process is filled with surprises. Events that diverge from schemata create a state that one might call ‘surprise’ [8]. The experimental system must be open to uncertainty, hesitation, and moments in which ‘the course has not yet been set, and action may take place in the unknown’ [9]. ‘[E]xperimental systems must be capable of differential reproduction [...] in order to behave as devices for producing scientific novelties that are beyond our present knowledge, that is, to behave as “generator(s) of surprises”’ [10]. Surprise generates curiosity by informing the conscious self of the occurrence of a schematic discrepancy: ‘surprise provides an impetus for meta-cognition and the exploration and explanation of the unexpected event. Hence, cognitive surprise is one way that an artistic design artefact might be instrumental in changing an observer’s beliefs’ [11].



‘If vehicles are treated as mediators triggering other mediators, then a lot of new and unpredictable situations will ensue (they make things do other things than what was expected)’ [12] 


The experimental research on sonic form and expression Sound to Wear suggests an expansion of theory and methodology in the field of fashion design by introducing new foundational definitions, theoretical propositions and tools through basic experimental research [13; 14; 15]. Sound is seen as a material’s aesthetic potential in relation to the body and dress, as well as a conceptual way to redefine fashion expressions. The research goes beyond existing communication models in fashion design and sonic language by rethinking the dressed body as a matter of sound gestalt. The definitions established are central in this context and are the foundation of the new practice. The research started with material explorations and grew towards a complex sonic system: the acting and moving dressed body in space. It is important to avoid common thinking modes and judgments with regard to what an item of dress is in this context. Here, ‘dress’ is anything that could be worn on the body, in this case, sound object(s). The relationship between mediating object(s) and the participant(s) is in focus and aims to inspire new meanings and relationships through the active creation of ‘sonic events’ in body-object intra-actions. These body-object relationships are embodied in the act of wearing: co-sounding and co-listening that enfold in this communal space. Sound to Wear encourages rethinking of fashion expressions while introducing non-visual, temporal fashion expressions such as sound as well as unexpected, playful practices of a dressed body such as listening and sounding. The collections of sound recordings (the Sonic Fashion Library) and sound tools (Sound to Wear) are reminiscent of the Wunderkammer, or the ‘cabinet of curiosities’, where one can go from object to object or from idea to idea in a state of wonderment and inspiration, exploring artefacts that ‘define and demonstrate formal knowledge in itself’ [16]. The self-guided action and ‘curiosity-based’ method [17], along with the lived experience element of the cabinets of curiosities, Fluxkits, and art practices with temporal inclusion such as artwork by Bugg, Clark, Horn, Leitner, Walther, Wurm, Oiticica, Schilling, and Munari, have provided new insights and encouraged the rethinking of the dressed body as a temporal, changing experience in relation to the sound tools. Questions such as ‘what if dress is a sound?’ and ‘what are the implications of this?’ introduced a process of ontological investigation related to alternative modes of thinking and designing items of dress, expanding the concept of what dress is and can be.


This research began with the statement that dress is sound.

A sonic expression is defined as an event that unfolds in time and space within a kinetic-haptic interaction of a dressed body.

The sonic expression becomes.

Thus, the being of sonic expression is the act of sounding.

To summarize the findings: a moving dressed body is a sound event, and

the moving dressed body is therefore:


—a time

—a space


—a threefold interaction

—a friction

—an impact

—a rhythm

—a tempo

—a network

—a flux

—an echo











My research practice evolved to become what I have defined as a practice of ‘unlearning’. This notion is used as an alternative way to consider fashion in relation to sonic identities and sonic expressions in order to rethink the content of fashion studies. An investigation of sonic expressions questions our understanding of how critical fashion practices can construct their own understanding of what fashion is and proposes an alternative approach to fashion. It can thus be seen as a disruptive fashion practice. The research encouraged the leaving behind of pre-existing knowledge of fashion expressions, focusing on alternative definitions and design processes [18] related to sonic expressions. The altered ways of doing-thinking-doing and the implications of a durational expression led to notions of incomplete, unfamiliar, and ‘third aesthetic’ [19], and proposed new ways of interacting with and relating to items of dress. The unlearning practice disrupted the traditional understanding of what fashion is and expanded the concepts of dress and identity. 


This research may be seen as disruptive in that it considers clothing and fashion in relation to non-visual, time-based expressions of sound. The usage of this ‘antiocular’[20] approach in a design process facilitates the creation of sound-based research artefacts. Considering dress in relation to changeability over time was pivotal for composing, designing, and presenting sounding items of dress. Creating such objects with the vocabulary and materiality of sound introduces new forms of expression and can facilitate fundamentally new experiences [21]. The unfamiliar combinations allude to an ‘object’ that changes the common design practice of items of dress. The change in perspective entails learning through unlearning [22]. The research artefacts exemplify the modality of knowledge that Levin calls ‘ontological thinking’, which triggers the shift in thinking when unlearning [23]. An ontological approach to auditory expressions brought a new mode of perception (listening) and expression (sounding) that suggested an alternative strategy for constructing the Sonic Fashion Ontology and methods based on listening to the acting, sounding dressed body. Considering the expression of a dressed body to be primarily sonic is a provocative estrangement from familiar fashion expression and an alternative mode of thinking, being in the world, and expressing identity. Thinking of a dressed body in terms of sonic identities brings in unknown aesthetics: a dressed body becomes temporal and fragmented, it extends in all directions and is variable in its rhythms and volumes. It fades and echoes its surroundings, dispersing and merging different sonic identities at the same time. Thus, the identity is fluid, and constantly changes over time. The research topic suggested porous concepts that are open to multiple interpretations and uses and laid the foundation for further investigations. It opened new avenues for design thinking with the ears rather than the eyes and suggested a discourse relating to sonic expression, audial identity, and sonic persona [24].


The research identified the boundaries of fashion and explored alternatives to visual fashion discourse. Rethinking aesthetics and design thinking and shifting from the visual to the sonic opened up for sonic expression, an unexpected and previously un-thought of concept. It suggested new ways of approaching fashion practice through the exploration of an artistic research methodology at the intersection of fashion, sound art, performance art and music composition, seeking to extend the potential of alternative fashion expressions. Exploring the interface of fashion and other disciplines within this research has revealed the importance of embedding these ideas and methodologies. The research can be seen as an ‘expanded field’ practice [5] which has the potential to expand fashion and move it forward as a discipline.



I want to call it fashion, rather than interdisciplinary, and for us to discuss it as fashion.

The composer Jennifer Walshe once said, ‘I want to call this music, rather than interdisciplinary, and for us to discuss it as music.’ [25]. The phrase above is inspired by Walshe and adjusted to my field. ‘It is important to note that when composers expand into other disciplines, this usually also changes their understanding of music – the field they departed from. Therefore, this expansive movement is not only one-directional, but also changes the general understanding of music among those practitioners’ [25]. When working in the expanded field, as presented in this exposition, fashion and the dressed body are perceived and defined as sound. I strive to expand the notion and challenge the pre-conceptions of what fashion is and could be. The findings challenge existing theory with new terms, definitions, methods, and tools. The altered ways of doing-thinking-doing and the implications of a durational expression led to notions of uncompleted, unfamiliar, and ‘third aesthetic’ [19] and proposed new ways of interacting and relating with items of dress. This research practice also could be seen as an example of ‘new amateurism’, bearing in mind that I am a fashion designer composing with sound, ‘as an artistic independence previously unknown in the field’ [26]. This brings new insights to the field of fashion, as well as to other disciplines such as performance art and experimental music, ‘music in the expanded field’ [25] by breaking the thinking-doing patterns and challenging conventions as contemporary dancers/performers/choreographers/music composers. 



SOUND TO WEAR: The Cabinet of Sonic Curiosities

A collection of thought- and body-provoking playthings for sounding and listening practices

Vidmina Stasiulytė, PhD in Artistic Research, Fashion Design