A super drafty draft…………..
Title Page
Approval/Signature Page
Abstract (working copy)

Home Maker is an MFA Thesis exhibition that explores the tension between craft, textiles, and contemporary digital technology as manifested in wearable technologies. Through research and creative production within the domestic sphere, I investigate and problematize often associated with craft, textiles, and contemporary digital technologies. During the creation process, I use my body as the catalyst for the wearables, accepting and adapting to the present reality of social distancing, isolation, and quarantine during the COVID 19 pandemic. I present myself as a central character in looking for solutions to everyday conundrums using electronics, household materials and my own labour in ways that narrate both an autobiographical and imagined storytelling.

Acknowledgements
Table of Contents
List of Images
Introduction

Chapter One: History and Theory 

1.1 A Brief History of Wearable Technology (art/military/medical)
1.2 Cold War/Space Race (Man-Machine Relationship/Atomic Anxieties/Material Innovation)

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. 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, looking through the anxiety surrounding COVID19 and the “Stay at Home” filter , 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.

1.3 Craft, Technology, Craft and Technology 

Technology

The effect of the consumption of technology on self-definition of the individual is complex, touted as being both our salvation and downfall depending on one’s level of interaction and perspective (expand on the help and hinderance).  Donna Haraway succinctly states, “Technology is not neutral. We’re inside of what we make, and it’s inside of us. We’re living in a world of connections — and it matters which ones get made and unmade.” (citation needed). During this time of isolation, stay-at-home order, and social distance restrictions, there is a heavy reliance on technology to keep in contact with family, friends, and colleagues, the dissemination of pertinent information from mainstream media to institutions to local stores, and for entertainment purposes.

In Sensorium: Embodied Experience, Technology, and Contemporary Art, Caroline A. Jones explains the importance of the investigation of technological innovation within contemporary art, “The only way to produce a technoculture of debate at the speed of technological innovation itself is to take up these technologies in the service of aesthetics. Aesthetic practices locate how bodies are interacting with technologies at the present moment, and provide a site for questioning those locations.”

 

1.4 Textiles/Clothing as Mediation between Private and Public Spheres

Renee Baert describes clothing as a vessel, “Yet the absent body remains implied both through the congruity of clothing and corporeality, and by the empty space within the garment” (p. 78) she continues, “Dress is at once a social form and a surrogate for the body, a complex link between the private domain of the body and the public domain of the sign.” (p.75). In many ways this is similar to the way the digital world can provide a complex link to an alternate reality, often a surrogate space for one to fully control or inversely release control of one’s self image (need to elaborate).The digital realm is also one of private and social space, personal and shared, with different embodied parameters for each.

Chapter Two: Themes and Ideas (Control/Protection/Isolation/Materiality)

2.1 Personal Responses to COVID19 (soft solutions)

The examination of the roles of wearable technology in a time of uncertainty brings forward opportunities for the alteration of clothes, products, spaces, and the human body to exist in a safer, healthier, protected future. The creation and consumption of such objects in a time of crisis explores the way in which we reconsider our relationship with ourselves, with others, with things, and with spaces.

2.2 Themes of Social Distancing, Isolation, Protective Wear, Intimacy and Communication manifested as constrictions and extensions of the body 
2.3 Materiality (hybridization of craft and technology/use of ‘domestic’ or on hand materials)

I take a look around my bedroom turned half studio. It has been almost 3 months since the University of Lethbridge had to close its doors in response to the COVID19 pandemic. The materials surrounding me, besides bedroom furniture and paraphernalia, is a diversity of textiles, microcontrollers and electronic components. My attraction to these seemingly divergent objects is nothing new. My yearning for tactile experiences through textiles can be traced back to the time in my youth spent with my Grandmother on the farm watching her create, stitch, and mend in her sewing room. I was shown pictures of garments she had made for my mother, aunts and uncles, and as the second youngest grandchild out of 10, I watched as she made Halloween costumes, parade costumes, and grad dresses for my older siblings and cousins. These acts of love performed between other farm responsibilities. (more to come, will probably end up as footnotes?)

Although I vividly remember when I was given my first Walkman at 8, CD Walkman at 10, CD player at 14, our family’s first desktop computer at 16 and my first cell phone at 18, these objects served little more than a utility function. My real attachment to electronics began when I was introduced to the sleek, sterile designs at the Apple Flagship store in Nagoya, Japan in 2003. To me, the Apple store was a symbol of futuristic architecture, design, and products. When I walked through the large lustrous glass storefront, climbed the glass staircase, and ran my hands over the smooth stainless steel surfaces onto the latest electronic products a transcendence experience occurred. Located in the downtown core of a city populated by over 2 million people, the store stands juxtaposed by a concentration of Buddhist temples, second hand stores, and traditional entertainment and culture just an 8 minute walk away. (more to come, will probably end up as footnotes?)

Ingrid Bachmann succinctly describes the tension I feel between my attraction to electronic hardware as a signifier of the future and my nostalgic connection to textiles in Material and the Promise of the Immaterial, “Textiles are characterized by their haptic qualities and strong visual and tactile presence. The haptic quality of textiles reminds us of our own material origins and the often problematic physical conditions of our daily lives. This tactility and materiality appears to be in direct opposition to the almost antiseptic sterility of the design of computer hardware” (p. 32-33).

“For what factors determine that textile looms are fabricated in natural woods and not in stainless steel? Conversely, what factors determine that computer hardware is fabricated in heavy duty grey or black plastic melamine rather than in wood?” (Bachmann, 33). These options are most likely chosen because of the associations we have with them. I would suggest, in this specific moment in time, materials capable of antiseptic sterility are desirable over those with haptic qualities and tactile presence especially in the public sphere.

2.4 Absurdity or exaggeration as an engagement tool

 

Chapter Three: Production and Method (Work Created)

3.1 Concept Development
3.2 Progress/Production in my Domestic Setting
3.3 Prototypes
3.4 Video/Online/Photography beyond the gallery
3.5 Exhibition

 

Conclusion
References

Bachmann, Ingrid. “Material and the Promise of the Immaterial.” (2000).

Baert, Renee. “Three Dresses, Tailored to the Times.” Material Matters: The Art and Culture of Contemporary Textiles (1998): 75-91.

Haraway, D., & Manifesto, A. C. (1991). Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century,” In Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York; Routledge, 1991), PP. 149-181.

Horne, Stephen. “Embodying Subjectivity.” Material Matters. The Art and Culture of Contemporary Textiles: 35-44.

Jones, Caroline A., Bill Arning, and Jane Farver. Sensorium: Embodied Experience, Technology, and Contemporary Art. MIT press, 2006.

Liverant, Bettina. Buying Happiness: The Emergence of Consumer Consciousness in English Canada. UBC Press, 2018.

Appendices
Images