Do You Want Your Fashion to Interact with the World?

Imagine a dress that would react to people around you. Lash out if you felt threatened. Light up if you were happy? Sound like something from Bladerunner? Think again. These dresses have become reality, thanks to Dutch fashiontech designer Anouk Wipprecht.

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This is Anouk’s Spider Dress 2.0. The spider leg epaulettes on each shoulder are actually tiny robots. They link to proximity sensors and a respiration sensor. This means that if someone moves aggressively towards you, and you don’t like it, your increase in respiration will trigger the mechanical legs to move up and into an attack position. Additionally the black LED shells stationed along the garment, meant to  resemble spider eyes, automatically flash in warning when someone gets near you.

Robotic Spider Dress [Intel Edison based] // 2015 teaser from Anouk Wipprecht on Vimeo.

Anouk’s original Spider Dress (designed in collaboration with engineer Daniel Schatzmayr) shows the sinister robotic spider legs. These legs also extend, but won’t react to the proximity of others. It was simply meant as a performance art piece about personal space.

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Although the Spider Dress is Anouk’s most recent project, he has experimented with interactive clothing for a while. Take the Smoke Dress, which covers the wearer with fog as soon as people approach. The Smoke Dress functions as a protective shield, the designer says, “just like an octopus in self-defense” envelops itself in clouds of ink.”

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Interactive Smoke Dress @ AUTODESK Gallery pop up Paris from Anouk Wipprecht on Vimeo.

Anouk also created her Synapse Dress which reads the wear’s thoughts. When the person is excited about something, this triggers the LED lights in the dress to glow. It creates a sense of vulnerability because everyone around you will know what you are thinking.

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Much of the interactivity in Anouk’s fashion are thanks to an Intel chip called Edison. Watch the micro-documentary about how the chip helps the clothes sense the users thoughts.

Interactive Intel-Edison based Synapse dress by Dutch fashion-tech designer reveals wearers metal states from Anouk Wipprecht on Vimeo.

One of Anouk’s earliest fashion and tech mashups looks like it came straight out of a Steampunk novel. The Faraday Dress lights up when exposed to the power of high-voltage, low-current, high-frequency, alternating-current electricity. That forking lightning you see in the picture is real. 94 metal panels comprised the outfit, cut out of a sheet of metal using the water jet.

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In this making of video you can see a hesitant model wearing the dress as the faraday device launches arcs of electricity at the dress.

Anouk Wipprecht lives and works in San Francisco. She strives to create fashion that will connect the body and the clothing. She began combining fashion and technology three years ago. A one year sting to Sweden offered her a chance to study “body, fashion & technology” at the Malmo university. There she worked on Arduino-based application possibilities and smart fabric concepting.

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Tim Kane

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Do You Dream of Monsters?

The world is filled with monsters. We only have to see them for what they are. Every culture around the globe has its fair share of creatures that lurk under the bed or slink through the shadows. Rarely do we cast a light on the denizens of our nightmares.

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Often monsters are a product of our own overworked imagination. Take the work of the Linares family and the “Alebrije”, which translates to woodcarving. In 1936, an artist named Pedro Linares succumbed to a high fever, causing him to hallucinate. In these fever dreams, he saw a forest with rocks and clouds, each transforming into wild and multicolored creatures with wings, horns, tails and fierce teeth. After he recovered, Pedro created the creatures he saw, using papier-mâché and cardboard. The Linares family kept this art form alive. The Alebrije pictured above was created by Miguel Linares.

Looking back through history, it’s easy to see similar nightmarish figures sprung from out imagination. Take the Singha for example.

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Not all monsters need to be bad. The Singha is a temple guardian in Thailand. Half-man and half-lion, it guards temple entrances such as Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok. The name derives from the Sanskrit “simha” meaning lion.

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The Fen Huang is another guardian monster, though this one heralds prosperous times. The Fen Huang only appears to mark the beginning of a new era—the birth of a virtuous ruler. During peaceful times, the bird will nest, but if trouble or war arises, it vanishes to its celestial abode.

The Chinese compound term Fèng Huáng means Phoenix. The Feng Huang controlled the five tones of traditional Chinese music, representing the Confucian virtues of loyalty, honesty, decorum and justice. Artifacts show that the the Phoenix (female) as associated with the Dragon (male). The two are mortal enemies or blissful lovers. When shown together, the two creatures symbolize conflict and wedded bliss, and are a common design  in many parts of Asia.

鳳 = Fèng, Male Phoenix    凰 = Huáng, Female Phoenix

 

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The Leshy is another guardian spirit, though you’d never guess it by looking at its fearsome appearance. This creature lives in the forests of Eastern Europe, specifically near the Slavic countries like Bulgaria and Czech. The Leshy’s hair and beard are made of leaves and grasses. It protects wild animals and will play tricks on any who wanter into the forest.

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Look at this skull. What do you see? A monstrous cyclops? Then your imagination would be on par with the ancient people of the Mediterranean. The big round space in the center of the skull, which looks like an eye socket, is actually the nose hole of for a mastodon. We so want to see monsters, that sometimes our mind creates them where they don’t exist.

What sorts of monsters inhabit your dreams? Are they there for protection or to haunt you?

Tim Kane

 

Disney Tarot and Insects Breathing (December’s Weird Roundup)

For this month’s edition of the Weird Roundup, I have some treats for you. These nuggets of strangeness will keep you warm in the coming months.

Disney Princess Tarot

Just when you thought every tarot art concept had been thoroughly explored, here comes one that is so beautiful, it should be made (lawsuits be darned). Imagine each of the major aracana depicted as a Disney princess (or prince).

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These aren’t the creepy Tim Burton cards from A Nightmare Before Christmass (though I love those too). These were created by Suisei-Ojii-Sama (Julian Rivera) over at Deviant art.

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Obviously I have more than a passing interest in Tarot (I wrote a book about it). Plus I love Disney. I live close enough to visit Disneyland at least once a month. So yeah, a Disney themed tarot deck would be right up my alley.

Visualize Insects Breathing

In school, I was the science geek who holed up in the physics lab to avoid pep rallies. Yup, one time we even got to split open a bowling ball with a sledgehammer to see if the density accounted for the holes. So anytime I run across something sciency that piques my interest, I like to pass it along.

Designer Eleanor Lutz simply wants to show people how to make an animated GIF. But here subject matter is mesmerizing. She completely understands what makes a good short animation. The breathing cycle of grasshoppers is very short and lends itself well to the micro animation of GIFS.

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Visit her site to also see a person and a chicken breathing. But insects are the most interesting because they don’t have lungs. Instead they have ten holes along their abdomen called spiracles. Air goes in through the front spiracles and out the back. The grasshopper moves its abdomen to pump the air.

Krampus Night

And you thought all the scaring was done and over with after Halloween. How wrong you were.

Merry-Krampus

This Friday marks Krampus Night (or Krampusnaught). It’s the day that the demonic associate of Santa (and sometimes and Angel) comes to visit and see if you’re good. Only instead of coal for being naughty, you get a trip down below.

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Read my full article on this lovely fellow here.

Enjoy the holidays.

Tim Kane

Vampiric Birds and Fish (November’s Weird Roundup)

Just when you thought life couldn’t get any stranger, along comes vampiric fish and blood sucking birds. In the spirit of all things creepy, I’ve scoured the realms of fauna to find all the bloodsuckers out there. And I’ve saved the best to start us off.

Vamp Birds

I Vant to Peck Your Blood

Although no bird on Earth draws all its nourishment from blood, the sharpbeaked ground finch will occasionally delve into vampirism. This bird lives on an island already known for its freakish deviants of evolution: Galapagos. Typically the “Vampire Finch” will peck at seeds, just like a normal bird. But in the light of a full moon… Er, when drought conditions limit the number of seeds available, it switches to the red stuff. Then it mosey’s over to another fowl, a seabird called a booby. The finch pecks at the victim bird’s back until it draws blood, offering up a nice warm meal. The sharpbeaked ground finch never over pecks. They only draw enough bloom to eat. If the finch were to cause too much pain, then the booby would chase them away or attack.

This National Geographic video shows the vampiric finch in action.

Blood Sucking Fish

The candirus (or pygidiid catfish) is strongly attracted to raw turtle meat and will also attack the legs of human waders. These fish crave blood and will attack the gills and fins of dying or disabled fish or even the legs of submerged children. Scientists, Vinton and Stickler, caught a specimen using a bloody cow lung for bait. Another scientists captured one as it tried to rasp the skin of his leg. Generally, these vampire fish seek out larger catfish, burrowing into the gills. One specimen was found halfway inside the belly of a larger catfish. The vampire catfish’s belly was distended with blood.

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In 1960, one researcher captured a canirus catfish and “permitted [it] to fasten onto his hand for a short while during which time it succeeded in drawing blood, apparently using its mouth as a sucking apparatus and rasping with the long teeth in the middle part of its upper jaw.” It seemed, he added, “to be utterly avid for a meal of blood and had to be forcibly removed.” So unlike the finch, this bad boy loves the taste of blood. It gets better.

In 1959, the Cleveland Aquarium acquired four vampiric fish. The keepers tried to feed them anything from worms to brine shrimp. No go. The canirus would have none of it. Only when a half-pound goldfish was put into their aquarium, did they bite. Almost immediately, according to the report, three of the four latched onto the goldfish under its gills and began sucking blood.

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So vampire bats do not have the corner on the creepy bloodsucking market.

Tim Kane