Interactive Intimacy

But it was the Intimacy, a new joint project by Daan Roosegaarde and V2 that became a true hit of the evening. Presented in a cat-walk form, the new electronic dress developed by Daan and designed by Maartje Dijkstra attracted all the eyes in the audience and all the lenses of the photographers.

The technology used in the dress was not, perhaps, the most simple one, but from the interface and interaction point of view it was performing a relatively simple task: the ‘fabric’ was stayed semi-transparent, almost see-through while the viewers were at certain distance, but became opaque if they were getting closer. The dress was apparently reacting to the physical presence of the people around, but could also be triggered by a special ‘interactive ball’, an option which many men in the audience were very eager to try (by the way, the model was stunning).

The debates around the concept were quite hot (partly because by then the show lasted almost two hours, in a close room with a hundred of people in). Is this technology is to reveal or to conceal? Is it aimed to free and empower women or to further subordinate them to the men with the interactive balls?

That was says Daan himself:

A lot is happening in the wearable world, but often it’s very D.I.Y. I would really like to make something that’s quite “slick,” in a good way. I think wearables have enormous potential, but we have to take it to a higher level – for example, by showing that you can use technology to compel intimacy. I really want to add value to electronic culture by bringing it inside other cultural circuits.

I also personally believe that wearables, due to the huge symbolic meaning of clothes, can become one of the most powerful tools for Summ()n’ projects.

Bare Conductive Dance

Another very interesting project presented at V2 was Bare Conductive, by a young UK-based same-name collective. As everything really beautiful, the idea behind it is simple and seemingly non-sophisticated. Using electroconductive properties of ink, the team developed a safe, non-toxic and easily washable version of it, and start experimenting with the ’embedded circuitry’.

To illustrate both technological and artistic capacities, two dancers performed a wonderful multimedia dance, producing different sounds by touching each other by different parts of their bodies (thus dynamically creating various circuits). This was a very expressive show, nice. but also ‘usefully nice’. I spoke with Isabel and Stan, from Bare Conductive, and would love to further explore possibilities of using this fantastic ink in one of the future projects of Summ()n.

Lucy McRae at V2’s Test_Lab

When I finally got into the V2, Lucy was already in the middle of her slideshow; in way, I didn’t miss much, because I know Lucy McRae and enjoy her works for years already. But of course, to listen to the ‘makig of’ story is always a revelation, and a lesson. I was also glad to see few of her latest works presented, like the ‘pin-skin’, especially impressive in the movie with a breathing chest.

I also like the ‘Tube Skin’ project, I recently noticed an array of the projects in this direction, from the works by Julius Popp to a few latest projects presented this year at Ars Electronica.

Moving to V2

The same day I also went to Rotterdam, to attend the V2’s Test_Lab ; the event was fully packed, to the extent that they even didn’t want to let me in, and only my story that I am from ‘far away land’, and that I spent two and half hour driving somehow softened their hard hearts. The ‘two and a half hour’ was not, actually, an exaggeration (the average driving time to Rotterdam from us is ±1.5 hours); there was a huge traffic accident on the way, near Tilburg, with four or five cars involved.

I write it here not only because it adds some sort of ‘drama’ and ‘authenticity’ to the story, but also because of the thoughts I had during an hour-long waiting in this traffic jam. Some of them were of an all too familiar kind, such as “why do we keep developing all those fancy intimate interfaces yet are not able to develop safe cars? or a traffic system in general?” Of course, there were also the usual thoughts on ‘Black Swans’ of unpredictable events which we keep ignoring when planning our possible futures.

While some other thoughts were of almost polar direction, that we did, in fact, develop very elaborate and sophisticated systems, and interfaces, and that these complex and multilayered socio-technological systems allow us coping with ever turbulent realities. The work of the police and fire brigades, ambulances and, I assume, media teams resembled a complex dance, very organized and beautiful.