COVID19 vs Cold War/Space Race

During the Cold War Period of 1945 – 1970 the image of the body, and the man/machine relationship was shaped by “Cold War concerns such as atomic anxieties, the space race and the first forays into “hyper-reality” which emphasized the bodies need for protection”{Pavitt, 2008}

I see a parallel to the COVID19 pandemic in which there is worldwide anxiety and a race to find immunization. Looking through the COVID19 and the “Stay at Home” filter has solidified my interest in absurd, personal wearables as a response to the/my current needs/way of life.

During the 1960’s and 70’s fashion, art, and architecture created was a response to innovations in material (ie. Plastic, metallic fabric), and technology coupled with futuristic silhouettes and geometric shapes to envision utopian projections of the future. Our current reality deals more with intimate, domestic, and isolated realities. Thinking of my personal response to COVID19 centres on themes of social distancing, isolation, protective covering, communication, hands free tools, and distanced intimacy.

When I consider the Cold War/Space Race time, there was atomic anxiety that seeped into everyday life but it was coupled with a feeling of hope and imagined utopian futures stemming from technological innovation, material developments (especially synthetics), and abundance. This quickly led to a quick changing disposable product culture that came under question in the early 1970’s. When I think about making wearables now, in a time of anxiety around COVID19 but also around supply shortages and decreased access to materials then I would consider my choice of taking materials from the domestic sphere as a direct response to those anxieties.

Artists and Work:

Walter Pichler – Prototypes ie. TV Helmet “…cynical commentaries on the isolating effects of modern media on human experience.”

Krzytof Wodiczko – The Instrument, 1971


Pavitt, Jane. Fear and Fashion in the Cold War. V&A Publishing, 2008.

“The Space Race not only provided an enduring stream of technological innovations and material developments that could be adapted to everyday use, but also a host of imaginative possibilities for how products, clothes, environments – even the human body – might be redesigned in the future. No longer was the human body to be limited by its biological capacity for survival on earth.” (Pavitt, 2008, p. 10)