Three cuts into the “Untitled 1-3”
As part of this questioning I propose three “cuts” into the materializing process of the “Untitled 1-3”. I understand these cuts as three particular but related enactments of it. The first cut enacts the installation as the object of discourse in this exposition and inquires into the conditions and the limits for making “Untitled 1-3” available as part of the exposition. The second cut enacts the installation as an experimental conceptual-material configuration, a particular kind of “touch” for a human-machine encounter and asks what it means to touch within this particular arrangement. The third cut foregrounds the collaborative work in which “Untitled 1-3” was produced.
Could these cuts be understood as agential cuts, as three very different configurations, each enacting the “Untitled 1-3” in their particular ways? Of these enactments the second cut focuses on the conceptualization and the technical configuration of an encounter between an embodied participant and the installation arrangement in an exhibition. It explores those intra-actions in which touch is enacted at the interface of the installation. The other two cuts, in a sense, frame this central cut. The first one reminds us, that to introduce and to represent the conceptual-material apparatus of “touch” in the second cut, one needs to launch a series of remediations, which are not transparent, but enact the “Untitled 1-3” in ways that are conditioned by specific media configurations and their entanglements. The third cut, on the other hand, investigates in more detail, how the apparatus for enacting touch – addressed by the second cut – was built in a collaborative process and explores how agencies shifted in this process.
"Untitled 1-3" installation
The installation “Untitled 1-3” consists of three dress-like objects, which are installed so that they hang from ceiling. The objects are hand knitted out of thick grey wool, and padded for shape. They are not intended for wearing, but for tactile encounters: touching, stroking, squeezing, pulling, caressing, and hugging. When touched they emit human-like sounds, sighs and burbs, or they respond by physical changes, vibrations, heat, or mechanical movement.
The dress-like artifacts, which constitute the installation “Untitled 1-3”, are not wearable. They are to be discovered in a gallery as if they were shells of another, absent body. Their shapes may, for some, resemble the deformed body shapes in Rei Kawakubo’s designs. Even though the dresses of the “Untitled 1-3” were not designed for the purposes of clothing, fashion as a system of references to embodiment, to the ways in which a human body is historically and culturally framed, aestheticized re- and de-formed, was an important starting point for my project. I have been particularly intrigued by the ways in which new technologies have been brought to bear on the fashion system as in the work of Iris van Herpen. She has used advanced techniques and materials, such as digital 3D printing tools for creating imaginative, gravity defying body shapes that often display exceptional beauty. Kawakubo’s deconstructions of the human and particularly of the female body, on the other hand, can be seen as deconstructions of the boundary making practices within the fashion system. Her works constitute referential networks, which interrogate, among other things, the body shapes and their capacities to make cultural distinctions. Moreover, the patterns and the materials that she chooses often aim at mobilizing particularly loaded cultural connotations. As I see it, her sculptural ways of thinking of the patterning of a garment pay attention to the intra-actions between a living, moving body and these conceptual and material dimensions of the fashion system.
Because of my past training as a textile designer I approach the dress-like forms of the “Untitled 1-3” objects through ways of experimental textile labour, looking for ways to create imaginative connections between “hard” electronics and “soft” knitting. Therefore my work can be related to the cultures of wearable electronics in its application of components commonly used in the field. However, there is an important sense in which my work deviates from the problem spaces of both fashion and wearable electronics. In “Untitled 1-3” the body inside an imaginary garment figures through absence. There is no anticipation of a moving body that would invest the garment with movement from within. There is no anticipation of a force from inside that would make a difference. The dresses of the “Untitled 1-3” are only interactive in their relation to another person, who approaches them from outside. For this reason it makes sense to address “Untitled 1-3” in this exposition as the site for tactile encounter.
I often call “Untitled 1-3” a responsive installation. I take this responsiveness to mean that the work establishes an event-space in which a person has to negotiate her relation to something, which appears to be in-between the states of the animate and the inanimate, and, renegotiate her relation to the tactile and the multimodal pleasures and anxieties emerging in the co-performances with these objects.
The conceptual starting point for the work is the figure of the maternal body as it may be perceived in a dream, in which one’s body is experienced simultaneously from inside and from outside. This experience might confuse the memory of one’s body as maternal body and as an infant body and would only remember the proximity in-between, forgetting its more specific visual form. The work in its current stage results in the shape of dresses that embody disfigurations and morphological displacements. The actual forms of the three dress-like objects emerged through experiments in associative knitting, as I, fascinated by the algorithmic logic of additions and subtractions discovered what kinds of three dimensional shapes came out of these experiments.
The installation still undergoes changes. As a responsive system, each of the dresses consists of a specifically designed architecture of electronic components, which can easily be reprogrammed while certain material elements in them can be modified too. Consequently then, each dress can be considered as an experimental site, open for continued creative labour.