Tag Archives: wearables

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!

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…

Project updates

19 Oct

After getting some feedback in class last Friday, Bubble Pop Electric has made many changes to our proposed design!

Our biggest criticisms were:

1)  Our hat is pointless and probably awkward to wear.

2)  We have some interaction issues to sort out with grabbing bubbles and moving them from the “inactive” to the “active” space (and for that matter, what IS the active space exactly…do we keep the sash?).

3)  Our LED lighting doesn’t seem well integrated into the rest of the system and could be enhanced.

4)  Some elements of control (like the stretchy suit whammy bar) may cause unintentional changes to the music during normal body movement.

After meeting last night, we’ve overhauled our design to address these concerns and make our suit a more intuitive, easy-to-use outfit.  Ali came up with the idea of punting “active spaces” and “inactive spaces” entirely.  Since we already have a mechanism to turn off and turn on each individual bubble by tapping it, why would we have to move selected bubbles to an active space during performance?  We decided it’s much simpler for the bubbles to remain on the suit and allow the user to simply turn on which bubbles she wants to use.

We also decided to organize the bubbles in a more logical manner to help the user remember which bubble corresponds to which sound clip.  In addition to color-coding the bubbles by song, all bubbles containing clips from the same song will be placed on the same quadrant of the body.

To address the issue of the user involuntary modifying the song, we’ve decided to add a belt with two sliders to control the sensitivity of the whammy bar conductive suit and the beat/bass shoes.  That way, the user can “turn down” her suit if it’s annoyingly sensitive to her movements.

To incorporate more of a display and reduce the awkward factor, we’ve eliminated our functional hat (though we may still have a small decorative headband) and have designed an LED display for the torso of the suit.  The LED display will be a matrix of LEDs under some sort of diffuse material. We hope that this display can be used to show a few simple animations, etc., some of which coordinate with the music being played. Instead of being just a screen (too Teletubby-like), the display matrix will be in the shape of a cool jazzy pattern that Ali thinks looks like a  Jem costume.  Our inspiration for this display came directly from the 15,000 LED dress by Moritz Waldemeyer and Hussein Chalayan (see below).  This design duo has already created LED outfits for many performers, including U2, Rihanna, and Ok Go!

And here’s a sketch of our updated design (drawn by Lorraine):

Bubble Pop Electric

30 Sep

Bubble Pop Electric is Ali J. McKenna, Lorraine Shim, and Alex Olivier.  Bubble Pop Electric is a bubble-covered electronic pop mixing station.  Bubble Pop Electric is the future of performance.  (And yes, Bubble Pop Electric is a Gwen Stefani song, please don’t sue us, Gwen).

Bubble Pop Electric combines musical performance, lighting design, and fashion into one wearable, portable package.  Instead of delegating aspects of an artist’s performance to costume designers, light and sound technicians, and the editing studio, Bubble Pop Electric returns all control to the artist.

Using bubble tokens stored in a beautiful headpiece, the artist can decorate her outfit and mix music.  As each token is attached to her bodysuit, it lights up and is automatically assigned a selection of sound clips that the artist can choose to play.  At this point, we are still considering different options for how to play each clip.  The artist may tap the bubble to play part of a clip, or the bubble may cause the clip to continuously play while it is connected.  In order to differentiate the musical bubbles from the decorative ones, each type of bubble will have a separate color of LED.

Bubble Pop Electric will use conductive strips of a Lycra-like fabric to transform the artist’s body into a variable resistor.  As the artist moves and dances to her musical creation, the conductive pseudo-Lycra will subtly modify portions of her music, and potentially the lights in her bubbles.

Here’s a picture of a silver conductive stretch fabric from http://www.lessemf.com:

The last portion of our project is a pair of drum shoes.  As the artist walks on the stage, she can walk, stomp her feet, or dance, causing vibration sensors in her shoes to produce percussion sounds.  We hope that by dancing to the beats she is playing, the artist can create a sense of unity between the various sound clips in the bubbles.

Concerns:

Keeping in mind that this is just a conceptual design, we want to address the following potential issues:

1) Not overwhelming the user with an excess of options.  Interaction should feel natural, yet expressive.

2) How can we allow the artist to play different sound clips without producing a cacophony of horrible music?

3) What other controls can we add to the suit?  How will we control how the bubble’s music is played?

4) What functionality can the hat serve besides a “holder”?

Technical Details:

We’d like to use a Bluetooth chip to send sensor information to a controller computer.  This computer will then send musical data back to Bluetooth speakers located in the outfit’s shoulderpads.  This will allow us to process and store musical data without taping a computer to our outfit.

Bubbles will be connected to the suit via conductive Velcro.  This will allow bubbles to turn on only when connected to the suit.  We’re thinking of embedding a magnet and using a magnetic sensor to detect when a bubble is present.  We’ll then use event-based programming to manage when songs are playing and not.

heavily take advantage of a user’s sense of naive physics (NP) – a user will be able to sense when a landscape structure is precarious or unstable rather than relying on a computer’s computation.  Much more intuitive than a CAD program, the user is able to mold, build up, and depress the material instinctively instead of searching through a library of complex extruding, sweeping, or filleting options.

Dance, Stretch, Distort

29 Sep

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