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Fluid Fashion with Lucy McRae

16 Dec

In her new video, Indestructible, Robyn wears a dynamic tube outfit, filled with moving, multi-color liquid.  It’s absolutely mesmerizing to watch and really gives off the impression that it’s an actual living, almost sentient piece of clothing.  In the following video, Lucy McRae, the artist behind the outfit, describes her inspiration behind the tubes and how she orchestrated this complex piece of fluid fashion.

Lucy discussed how she very much wanted to make a dynamic, steam and water powered construction.  For her first prototype, she wrapped a friend in tubing – putting one end of the tube in a water-filled bucket and the other end in her friend’s mouth.  Lucy’s friend powered the outfit by sucking and blowing on the tube.

For Robyn’s video, this process was automated using two pumps, the “beast” and the “baby”.  The beast powered over 1 km of tubing and sourced liquid from six separate buckets of water – all in different colors.  These larger, garden hose-size tubes connected to smaller tube’s on Robyn’s body.  The result was a non-traditional textile with a remarkably ambiently alive property.

In my 3-D design course (which classmates Ali McKenna and Taili Feng are also in), Taili and her partner, Nuha, created a sculpture using similar materials.  They decided to explore the concept of the circulatory system, and in particular, how it delineates an organism’s form, even in the absence of structural materials like bones.  Wrapped around a chicken wire shape, Taili and Nuha pumped green and purple liquid from buckets contained in the sculpture to the various tubes outlining the shape.

Lucy McRae has worked on many other projects – she even served as an advisor for Philip’s Bubelle dress!  This dress, which changes according to the wearer’s emotions, was a huge inspiration for Bubble Pop Electric (it even looks a bit like a bubble, no?).  It’s very exciting to see more work from one of the artists that worked on this project.

Lucy other creations can be seen on her website. Check them out!

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Bright Eyes

1 Dec

Bubble Pop Electric is all about LEDs.  We love them, of course, so when we saw Soomi Park’s LED eyelashes, it was an exciting moment.

Soomi’s LED eyelashes, applied on the bottom of the eye, are designed to make her eyes look bigger.  The design sketches in her video cite the “big eye obsession” as a source of inspiration.  While I’m not sure how I feel about the implications of what her eyelashes are trying to address, I do think they’re beautiful.  Looking like a barely-human android, Soomi’s video shows her wandering the streets of Korea.  She tilts her head up and down to trigger a mercury switch hidden in her hair to turn on the lashes.  When she blinks, the switch also triggered, and the LEDs pulse in time with her eyes.

In Soomi’s design, a thin wire connects the LEDs to the mercury switch and battery held in an earphone.  It’s for the most part very subtle, although the earphone containing the battery and switch might make some look like a telemarketer.  All in all, Soomi’s eyelashes lend the wearer an unearthly, alien beauty.  It gives a new meaning to having “bright eyes”.

Bubble Pop Electric would love to have some facial LED appliques.  Maybe a starburst pattern on one eye, a la Ke$sha.  Or if we’re feeling ambitious, an LED superhero mask!  Instead of actual wire, we could even experiment with using conductive paint.  Our professor, Orit, mentioned the possibility of conductive make-up.  We’d need to make sure the make-up was sweat-free, but how cool would it be to wear LEDs instead of rhinestones?  I’m on board…

Lights to music

11 Oct

Woohooo!  So at our last meeting, BPE made a few changes to our costume design.  One major change is the function of the hat.  Since we’re already storing bubbles elsewhere on the body, it seemed redundant to have a special bubble hat to hold bubbles in.  Truthfully, I just wanted to work in some kind of headpiece.  We’ve now decided to transform the hat into a “crowd enthusiasm” detector.  We’d have a sound sensor somewhere in the audience.  When the crowd gets louder, the hat will light up a new ring of LEDs.  The hat would have a spectrum of colors (kind of like the terror alert level, but not as freaky), so when the crowd’s at excitement level 0, only a blue ring of light would illuminate, etc., until all rings of LEDs are lit up.  When the crowd reaches its max excitement level, the rings of light could all flash.  I really wanted the “max excitement level” to trigger a bubble blower, but not sure if the team members are up on that.

Another LED-actuator we’ve been thinking about is associating the “intensity” of different music bubbles with the light intensity of their LED.  The user could place active bubbles on their sash, twist the bubble to turn up or turn down it’s intensity…then the LED inside of the bubble would automatically change brightness according to the level.  This could be done with a potentiometer or something…

Here’s an example of LEDs flashing to music.  These LEDs are wired directly to speakers with speaker wire.  Check it out, dance party!

Soft Rock

8 Oct

Part of Bubble Pop Electric’s goal is to create an organic, “soft” way to create music.  Although we are using tokens to mix and max music samples, we are also using our musical outfit to control music via body movement.  Whether the user is stomping with their shoes or changing the intensity of a musical element by stretching a Lycra suit, we’re providing a way for the user to control music intuitively.

The Opera of the Future group at the MIT Media Lab has been exploring “soft” musical creation for some time now.  Their Toy Symphony project from ~2002 focuses on allowing children to make their own sounds using non-traditional instruments.

Here’s an example of a “shaper”, an instrument children can squeeze and manipulate with their hands to manipulate music.  This particular type of shaper is an “embroidered musical ball”.    In this case,  music can be generated by squishing a pillow-like object.  Eight pressure sensors made from conductive thread are embroidered onto the ball.  The conductive sensor data is processed by a microcontroller and sent to a computer where music is produced by generating midi tones.  This musical ball is a nice example of an instrument that doesn’t use slider sensors, buttons, or other hard, bulky sensors.  All sensors can be used at once, without a second thought.

More on embroidered musical balls can be found here: http://www.cc.gatech.edu/~gilwein/images/ballchifinal.pdf

Dance, Stretch, Distort

29 Sep

A potential inspiration for a stretchy bodysuit that controls music and lights?