[ISEA2011] Paper: Younghui Kim – Body Graffiti: Expressive Wearable Art through Bodily Performance


Like many fine artists, modern & experimental dancers in the age of digital media have been early adopters of wearable technology. It seems obvious as the wearable itself can be an expressive media platform and at the same time, worn by a performer during performance, it elevates expression of body language as creating a stronger media platform combining two forms of media that have been so close to art and technology -wearable and performance.
This paper introduces a performance wearable project, ‘Body Graffiti’, a performance art wearable project that uses the illusion of persistence of vision (POV) to create ephemeral graffiti via body movement. As dancers (in this particular performance—break dancers) perform head spins, windmills and flares, messages programmed into the custom designed LED POV system are displayed. At the moment, the Body Graffiti prototype version 1.0 has been completed and performed with a B-boy team, “Last For One” during HCI Party Event in 2010.

The B-boy dancers wore the Body Graffiti system embedded in vests and leg shields, to express visual graffiti drawn with their body movements in the air. Body Graffiti uses a custom designed LED POV(Persistence of Vision) system which can be reprogrammed to express different messages whether it’s text or graffiti. LEDs and electric circuits are seamlessly integrated in wearable items therefore, dancers can move freely to express the message. The Body Graffiti with the B-boy performance has been on-going collaborative project since wearable has to be designed according to dancers’ speed and angle of movements; rotation such as head-spin in this case, and graphic and textual message we liked to convey. Body Graffiti is still in progress as it is being upgraded with more defined custom circuit board design with higher LED pixels to express more detailed graffiti graphics and fragmented sewable PCBs to be conducted with flexible electronic materials for better wearability.

  • Younghui Kim is a media artist who uses wearable as a platform combining soft wearable technology & interactive physcal computing.  She finds her inspiration from everyday things or cultural reactions she observes. Younghui currently had a solo media art exhibition, “Bottari” at the gallery B2Project and is teaching “Interaction Design” and “Interactive Art of Everyday Things” at Digital Media Design Dept of Hongik University in Korea – while continuing to research and create interactive projects as a participating researcher at the WCU Digital Media Public Art Research Center. Younghui received her Masters degree from ITP, Tisch School of the Art, New York University (1998) and her BFA degree from the Parsons School of Design (1992). Younghui’s wearable technology projects have been showcased at many international exhibitions such as DALSMA, SIGGRAPH, Gwangju Design Biennale, FutureFashion Event, Ubicomp Conference and Social Fabrics. They are featured on media/publication such as Nippon TV, iChannel TV, Computer Graphics World, Fashionable Technology, Metamorphosis, and artist has been interviewed in Art4D, The Christian Science Monitor (as well as abc.com), Donga Science, Korean Times Weekly Magazine, and more. WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY ART PROJECTS: Body Graffiti:  The performing wearable art using POV display technology, 2009-2011. Your Venus:  The Projectable Wearable Dress, 2011. Stir It On!:  The Wearable Technology Art of Expressing Social Interaction in Public Space, 2007-2008. HearWear:  The Fashion of Environmental Noise Display, 2004-2006 in collaboration with Milena Berry.  absurdee.com

Full text (PDF) p. 1362-1368