DRESS FOR STRESS WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY AND THE SOCIAL BODY

2 03 2009

By SUSAN ELIZABETH RYAN

This paper considers the work of artists, designers, and activists who, since the 1990s, have worked with body covering as survival mechanism and social tool. Individually or within collectives, they call their work art, design, or activism; or all three. The result is a “body of records” of technological, biological, and performable wearables that have not received the attention they deserve, both as art and design, and as vehicles for ideas about threats to species survival and collective experience.

For example, in the early 1990s artists created wearable artworks in the form of survival attire embedded in localized performative events concerned with social connection under adverse circumstances. Lucy Orta is prominent among such practitioners, who formulate clothing the body as critical, social, and ethical practice within an ambient “culture of fear.” (Fig. 1).

1 Fig. 1) Lucy Orta, Nexus Architecture x 50: Intervention Köln 2001.

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