Over the duration of WEAR Sustain we are going to highlight some projects which have already happened that might give you some inspiration.
Kasia Molga is a media artist based between London and Rotterdam who, in conjunction with her collaborators Ricardo O’Nascimento and Erik Overmeire working as Electronudes, has just released Coral Love Story: Chapter #1 which is a wearable device responding to real time data from coral bleaching alerts. The piece provides a number of responses to the wearer to signify the change in the environment.
We caught up with Kasia find out a little more about Coral Love Story and her work.
Q – Coral Love Story is a very beautiful piece and addresses an important topic. What made you decide to explore the idea as a wearable?
I wanted to find a different way of communicating beyond the verbal. Environmental data, and the problem with data, is it abstract and perceived as very digital and often transmitted by screens. This means it feels cold, and intangible.
We all wear clothes, and we can relate to it. Clothing separates us from nature, but also connects us. I’m not a fashion designer or even a wearable designer – I’d call myself a Design Fusionist, or media artist/designer who works on the intersection of fields – the reason why I created a couple of wearable pieces is because it can convey data on a very intimate and tangible level. So a good way of communicating about the topic was to make a wearable, which made the data tangible.
Q – There is a lot of discussion amongst the wearable and e-textile community about the sustainability of projects in terms of things like energy usage, and the recyclability of materials. How did you go about engaging with this for Coral Love Story?
The problem with media arts and design is that lot of work is based on power consumption and creating pieces out of components and parts that are disposable and difficult to recycle. With (previous project) Human Sensor and Coral Love Story being wearable, it allowed me to make things that are on a smaller scale, controlling the materials used and trying to be conscious not to pollute as much as possible.
Although the Human Sensor was very much focused on environmental and health issues – which after all can be made bad by increasing pollution – because of the budget the electronic components and batteries and the cotton/polyester – as a product it is not very “eco friendly”. The other thing which it worth mentioning is that most of my work engages with and interrogates emerging technologies, but at the same time I try to educate people through my work that technology can be a very democratic and empowering tool. So there is this paradox – it can help people to learn, explore and work, but at the same time it can be a pollutant.
With Coral Love Story I engaged even more and after researching decided to use liquid latex, which is a natural material that will degrade after ten years, but the problem still lays in the electronic components – what will happen to them after ten years when the latex will disintegrate?
Hopefully the electronics can be used to store the information about this artwork – and here it is why media arts history and conservation of such pieces are so important – not only to preserve the project but also not to throw away the tech.
Q – For the general public, wearable and e-textiles are maturing as an area beyond things like ‘fitness trackers’, with creative projects like Coral Love Story and your previous project Human Sensor getting more exposure. Do you think projects that address things like the environment and the impact upon health will nudge more overtly commercial projects to consider ideas around sustainability and also to make them integral to the design process?
I certainly hope so – Human Sensor got lots of press and other things seemed to come out in the media at around the same time, like the scarf that monitors air pollution for cyclists (WAIR). I’d hope there would be a cumulative effect as more projects begin and connect the public with these issues. The role of the community is to open up the perception. We need to take this approach of showing how beautiful life could be if we engage with the environment.
Q – If it isn’t top secret, what project ideas do you have coming up next and do they explore similar themes?
I’m working on the next parts of Coral Love Story and the next big thing is a commission by FutureEverything, called Positively Charged which will be at Taipei Art Festival in Taiwan. The theme is about using energy from our bodies as source of energy for a city, where even your heartbeat can be a source of power.
Read more about Kasia and other artists on our Online Network.
WEAR Sustain is actively seeking creative responses to a number of challenges on sustainability and ethics, including data ethics, through our Open Calls. The Deadline for Open Call 1 is 31 May 2017 and full details are at https://wearsustain.eu/open-calls
We are also hosting webinars and events so you can find out more about the criteria and to meet potential collaborators. Details are at https://wearsustain.eu/events