Interlaced 2015 offered a fast paced and multi faceted insight into an inter-disciplinarily arena of creativity. The emergent nature of this fusion of art and engineering was evident through the lack of a shared vocabulary between the delegates, indeed this was highlighted by several as an important area for development if we are to move forwards with wearable technology.
Broadly, wearable technology seems to have developed into two distinct but related formats. The first is wearable technology for the purposes of fashion, this was the focus of the conference. The second is using the technology in medicinal or work related contexts.
The most visually spectacular examples come in the form of light up gowns and jackets. CuteCircuit have patented their own methods of creating garments with so many lights embedded into the fabric that the garment essentially becomes a screen. Moritz Waldemeyer has also created superb work, visually stunning and edgy.
Conor Farringdon gave an excellent talk in which he raised moral and social issues from wearable technology. Garments that are able to collect our personal data leaves us vulnerable to infringements on our privacy, a key area of concern for Helen Oliver who is using her PHD to research ways we can protect our privacy.
The grand finale was a catwalk show of wearable technology, featuring 3D printed fabric, LED dresses, and the work of several recent graduates.
Although exciting, I do have some concerns with regards to moving forwards. Many delegates talked of the fragility of the technology and how this is proving to be incompatible with textiles, and the problems of collaborating when there is a lack of shared vocabulary. With no specialist courses running in the UK currently only a handful of people can understand both sides to this eclectic area of development. The more successful designs had been designed and engineered by the same person who understood both aspects of the problem to create a holistic object.
Rhyannan is a costumier and has a passion for dye work, pattern cutting and wearable technology. Her work can be found at www.rhyannanhall.co.uk.