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May 13, 2015 AT 1:00 am

RE/CONNECT Costumes Explore Intimacy #WearableWednesday

ReconnectProduction

Here’s an intriguing set of costumes for a pas de deux at the University of Texas at Austin for a theater piece exploring technology and intimacy. They were created by costume technician Kristen Weller, who also created the Warning dress I’ve blogged about.  Here’s an excerpt from the abstract of the show.

Exploring loneliness, community, and intimacy through the medium of visual, aural, and corporeal relationships with projections, music, and text, RE/CONNECT asks what is a right relationship to technology?

Each of the costumes illuminates in a different way for the show. One reacts to movement through proximity sensors, while the other reacts through touch using capacitive sensors. You can already tell this will allow for interesting movement and create a particular tension between the dancers. How do you get close? When is it okay to touch? The base of the costumes are Lilypad Arduinos and NeoPixels. IR sensors are used for proximity, while conductive fabric forms touch pads for the capacitive sensing.

ReconnectDuoWired

Here’s a video showing the proximity shirt in action.  I’m really fond of proximity sensors because they make things appear magical and really work great for movement pieces. Note that covers were 3D printed for the NeoPixels so they would be diffused nicely for the finished costumes.

Speaking of finished costumes, it looks like the final layers were simple stretch pullovers to allow for dance movement. Since conductive thread doesn’t stretch, it’s a smart move to create an undergarment just for the electronics. Most likely the bulk of these undergarments is non-stretch material.

ReconnectDuo

This is really a great set of costumes and a big congrats goes to Kristen, as well as her engineering team–Victoria Bill, Aaron Heidgerken-Greene and Rachel Lewis. In the dark of the theater, I’m sure the NeoPixels were glowing like stars. Of course, these cool LEDs don’t have to wait for a theater show. If you are a DIY lover, you can make a Potentiometer Controlled Hoodie. Say what? Using a textile potentiometer, you can just slide a metal ring to change the colors of the NeoPixels in your hoodie. It’s a fun first project that will make you a star when you walk home at night. So, thread your needle already and get stitching!


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