[ISEA2011] Paper: Marios Samdanis, Yikyung Kim & Soo Hee Lee – Fashionable Wearables in Digital Performance


This paper provides an interdisciplinary study at the intersection of fashionable technologies and performance arts that focuses on the sensual and embodied abilities of electronic arts; questioning how fashionable wearables affect digital performance, while exploring the new qualities they introduce.

As performance demonstrates the transition of performers’ emotions into expressions, digital performance incorporates digital technologies in order to increase its aesthetic, visual, sensorial, intellectual, and emotional effects. Fashionable wearables, as wearable computers which emphasize aesthetics and style, offer a new stream of experimentation in digital performance; as they become an expressive digital extension of performers’ bodies, sensing at same time the performing environment.

Fashionable wearables enable digital experimentation in digital performance based on embedded electronic textiles and smart garments that transform them into ‘interactive interfaces’ displaying information captured from the body, other sensors, or the environment; as well as constituting ‘emotive interfaces’ which visibly broadcast performers’ emotions by sensing the human body.

Birringer and Danjoux (2009) introduce the term ‘wearable performance’ to describe the impact of wearable computers in performance arts; distinguishing ‘display garments’, which demonstrate interactive effects, and ‘performative garments’, which capture and integrate into performance stimulations from performers’ bodies or the performing environment. In particular, ‘performative garments’ enable a process, called ‘sensorial embodiment’; according to which wearable computers generate digital events in the wearable space.

In addition to ‘sensorial embodiment’, this paper argues that fashionable wearables introduce three new qualities to digital performance. First, fashionable wearables ‘remediate’ digital performance, which becomes a form of radical interface design reflecting visual, sonic, and sensual experiences. Second, they cause ‘re-embodiment’, in which the performers’ bodies become indistinguishable from fashionable wearables, and their extended bodies participates in an invisible electronic network which shapes the fluid architecture of performing space. Third, they enable ‘digital bricolage’; a creative process which blends the live and the digital, as performers and designers develop or alter fashionable wearables in order to match the aesthetic and functional expressive needs of the digital performance.

Unfolding the key design qualities of fashionable technologies in digital performance, this study aims to understand how interdisciplinary art and design fields shape electronic arts.

  • Marios Samdanis is a PhD candidate at Birkbeck College, University of London, UK. His research relies on the intersection of innovation studies, new media studies and organization studies, focusing on diverse art and design fields, such as visual arts, fashion, sculpture, architecture and performance. In particular, he aims to understand how the effect of digitalization remediates each art and design form, leading to artistic innovations and new organizational forms. His paper ‘fashionable wearables in digital performance’ is part of a broader research in fashionable technologies. Following the first part of this study on digital fashion innovation through the emergence of the wearable interface, the second part explores interdisciplinary links of fashionable wearables with various art and design fields, such as interactive architecture, and in this case digital performance.
  • Yikyung Kim Soo Hee Lee  [ISEA2011 provided no biographical information]

Full text (PDF) p. 2125-2131