Collective Narrative


Week 2: January 21 – 27

Concepts and formal investigations of media & performance that brought about collective forms of narrative, with roots in conceptual, information art, and performance.The history and concept of open source thinking, and how peer-to-peer methods of collaboration, openness, and transparency can be applied to performance and artistic production: critical to an understanding of collective forms, collaboration, and hardware/software tools used in the course. Discussion of costume/textile projects that explore control of the space through light and interactive sensors. How do these projects result from the collaboration between the artist and the engineer, the synergy between different fields in the construction of wearable technology? Setup social media accounts and discuss more advanced techniques in OSS for online writing, collaboration, and media documentation.


Due Next Week: January 28

1 – Reading

Packer, Randall. (2013) The long, lost analogic art of the vertical roll. Read this short essay and watch at least a few minutes of the video of Vertical Roll by Joan Jonas. Be sure you watch the ending and think about the juxtaposition of the video image and the live performer.

Be prepared to discuss the essay in class and respond to how the artist used television as a medium for media and performance. Also read the Wikipedia article about Joan Jonas, who currently has an exhibition at the Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore.

2 – Research Critique: Biometrics

Research existing examples and projects of wearables recontextualizing biomimicry: the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems.

Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies—new ways of living—that are well-adapted to life on earth over the long haul.

Here are additional instructions for the research critique:

  • Create a new post on your OSS site
  • Write approximately 250 words to concisely summarize your research
  • Document your research with relevant hyperlinks, images, video, and other media
  • Add a featured image
  • Apply the “Research” category
  • Apply appropriate tags
  • Post a comment on at least one other research post prior to the following class

3 – Micro-Project:  The Collective Body

This micro-project involves the construction of a “collective body” made up of our body parts randomly reassembled and reconfigured into a single composite body. For the complete Micro-Project assignment instructions refer to:



Review Micro-Project: Video Double

  • What does each video reveal about the author/subject?
  • Were effects used for the construction of self and identity and what “effect” did they achieve?
  • How does the narrative construction of the video convey an altered identity of the artist?

A History and Concepts of Collective Narrative in Media and Performance (Randall)

  1. Yoko Ono, Cut Piece (1964)


Yoko Ono’s early performance art is radical for its embrace of simplicity and a more personal subjectivity. Ono was among the first solo performance artists to place herself at the center of the work. This approach would become a significant influence on later performance art, such as in the work of Marina Abramović. Ono, who was associated with Fluxus during the 1960s, and was married to the Beatle John Lennon, created Cut Piece in 1964, in which the artist invites the audience to cut her clothing, piece by piece, until she is stripped. A critique of women as sexual objects, Cut Piece builds on the participatory dynamic between audience and performer. Given when this work was created, years before feminism became part of the broader culture, it was a daring work, voicing fears and concerns of women as objects of public display.

The following is video documentation from Cut Piece:

  1. Kit Galloway & Sherrie Rabinowitz, Hole in Space, 1980

Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz, founders of the Electronic Café in Santa Monica, California, were among the first artists to begin exploring communications art through satellite technologies. Their seminal work, Hole-in-Space from 1980, represented one of the earliest examples of live, networked media art. They setup two large projection screens: one at Lincoln Center in New York City, the other at Century City in Los Angeles, to connect two live audiences. Conceived as a participatory event (much like the early Happenings), this unannounced project, setup for three consecutive days, enabled two groups of viewers to see the other live and in real-time across the space of the US, which literally collapsed the distance and experience of the real and the virtual, the local and the remote.

The Way of Open Source  (Randall)


Randall Packer (2015). “The Way of Open Source“ and “The Open Source Artist” from Open Source Studio.

“Creativity as a social process is the common denominator… the act of creation is a social act… a node in a network of relations.” – Vladimir Hafstein, associate professor of folkloristics and ethnology at the University of Iceland

Review the article and its references.

Some questions concerning open source ideology to consider:

  • Why do we think of open source as “utopian,” “free-spirited,” “anarchic,” “risky” or even “impracticable?” What is the fear of open source in an economically-driven society that values and protects proprietary methods?
  • What was the impact of Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ decision to “sell” software in 1976, or Steve Jobs to sell Apple Computers when up until that time it was strictly the domain of hackers and software enthusiasts and hobbyists who built hardware and wrote software purely for purposes of sharing and trading for free.
  • How do the concepts and ideologies of open source thinking impact and shape our study and creation of art? Refer specifically to artworks we have read about in The Open Source Artist.
  • How is art a social activity?
  • How does the content of a work involve communications?
  • How is OSS, based on open source thinking, a platform for peer production that will help catalyze our learning process, both collectively and individually? We will continue to discuss this.

Collective Narrative

Exquisite corpse, also known as exquisite cadaver (from the original French term cadavre exquis) or rotating corpse, is a method by which a collection of words or images is collectively assembled. Each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence, either by following a rule (e.g. “The adjective noun adverb verb the adjective noun“, as in “The green duck sweetly sang the dreadful dirge”) or by being allowed to see only the end of what the previous person contributed. For this game-playing exercise, we will take a sheet paper,  each of us will write one word of the sentence, fold the sheet, and pass it around until the sentence is complete. The surrealists used this technique to produce dream images and ideas: how does the collective form of creation contribute to a work of art that is situated outside the individual’s rational mind?


Exquisite corpse drawing by Man Ray, Yves Tanguy, Joan Miro, Max Morise; 1928

“In connection with open source thinking, the collective narrative is a sharing and open exchange of conversation, ideas, information, and media that leads to a synthesis of voices: forming a common thread among peers.” – Randall Packer

The #hashtag: how does metadata, as used in Twitter or Instagram, activate collective narrative in social media?

Discussion of fashion and wearable technology (Galina)


Galina Mihaleva grew up with a passion for fashion and art; she studied costume design at Arizona State University and the Arts School in Sofia with a Masters of Art degree specializing in fashion and textiles. Her interest in fashion lies in exploring the extent to which we experience fashion and how we might be able to accomplish a higher state of connectivity between the body and our clothing.

Wearable Technology

Wearable technology refers to the intersection of design, fashion, science, and technology.

Review student research critiques

Discuss student research on wearable fashion / technology.

Functional aesthetics

“Merging a fashionable technology object deemed aesthetically pleasant with technically enhanced functionalities.” (S.Seymour)

Wearable technology early timeline


}1956: Electric Dress

}1960: “Cyborg” appears

}1966: Wearable computer

}1977: Algebraic watch

}1979: Walkman

Seymour identifies 1956 as the year the first electronically-enhanced garment was produced, the Electronic Dress by Atsuko Tanaka. In 1960, the term “cyborg” appeared to describe a human being who is enhanced with technological attachments. The first wearable computer appeared in 1966, produced by Edward O. Thorp and Claude Shannon. It was a battery-run device designed for predicting gambling results. In 1977, the technology company Hewlett-Packard, or HP, introduced the first algebraic watch. In 1979, Sony built the first Walkman, a device which later inspired iPods and other electronic media playing devices that millions of people wear in their daily lives today.

Wearable Computing during the ’80s-’90s

}1980-81: Head-mounted cathode ray tube

}1989: Remote Control I & II


}1995: Firefly Dress and Necklace


In the early 1980s, a talented high school student named Steve Mann, who would later become one of the most influential people in the modern era of wearable computing, wired a 6502 computer into a steel-frame backpack to control flash-blubs, cameras, and other photographic systems. The display was a camera viewfinder cathode ray tube, or CRT, attached to a helmet. Input was from seven micro-switches built into the handle of a flash-lamp, and the entire system was powered by lead-acid batteries.

In 1989, artist Jana Sterbak took fashion and technology to the next level in her creation of remote-control dresses, known as Remote Control I and II. The dress featured on the left is Remote Control II. Since this time, many other artists and engineers have followed suit, looking for new, innovative ways to integrate technology into garments.

A breakthrough in wearable technology occurred in 1995 with the Firefly Dress and Necklace, created by Maggie Orth with Emily Copper and Derek Lockwood. As the person moves, the Velcro contacts the conductive fabric and causes LED lights to light up.

Demand for performance


Research in wearable technologies and smart textiles picked up after 1995. Athletic companies were among the biggest supporters of smart textiles, because athletes are always looking for new ways to enhance their performance. For example, the sportswear company Columbia produced a line of Omni-Tech products that provide premium waterproof and breathable protection by keeping outside elements from getting in, while allowing moisture to escape. Similarly, Adidas has a clothing line dubbed “ForMotion” that improves comfort and enhances performance by combining several different fabrics with different properties in a shaped garment. ForMotion garments are designed to enhance athletes’ movements in three specific types of sports: linear sports such as running, where the focus is on forward motion; lateral sports, such as tennis, where the focus is on upper body rotation and quickness; and the helix movements of football/soccer, where the focus is on lower body power and movement. Today’s designer is not only responsible for helping to design these new advanced wearable textiles, but also to make these textiles affordable and appealing for public consumption.

Simple affordable solutions


One of the pioneers in the field of smart textiles is Dr. Rehmi Post of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Post researched how to build circuits from commercially available fabrics, yarns, fasteners, and electronic components. Dr. Post summarized some of his early work in a paper called “Smart Fabric, or Washable Computing,” co-authored with Maggie Orth. The paper, published in 1997, gives the following introduction: “While wearable computers are empowering fashion accessories, clothes are still the heart of fashion, and as humans we prefer to wear woven cloth against our bodies. The tactile and material properties of what people wear are important to them, and people are reluctant to have wires and hard plastic cases against their bodies. Eventually, whole computers might be made from materials people are comfortable wearing. To this end, we have built electronic circuits entirely out of textiles to distribute data and power, and perform touch sensing. These circuits use passive components sewn from conductive yarns as well as conventional components, to create interactive electronic devices, such as musical keyboards and graphic input surfaces.” The keypad shown in the picture was produced using ordinary embroidery techniques and mildly conductive thread, and it was mass-produced on 50 denim jackets. The circuit board makes contact with the electrodes at the circular pads only at the bottom of the electrode pattern. The authors reported, “The responsiveness of the keyboard to touch and timing were found by several users to be excellent.”

Wearable Technology 2000-2016

Hussein Chalayan

Hussein Chalayan’s collections are an articulation of his immediate conceptual and philosophical preoccupations as well as his fascination with materials and techniques as they might be applied to his métier. Chalayan is an artist whose extraordinary intellectual rigor is supported by an equally vigorous pursuit of perfected technique. Engaged by issues of gender, politics, science, nature, and history, Chalayan informs his presentations with designs that are often less apparel than sculpture. Typically, he presents iconic dress forms as actors, as in his meditation and commentary on the burkha, transforming what is ordinarily a commercial presentation into a performance piece or installation art.

This dress is an edition of one that was first shown in Chalayan’s spring/summer 2000 collection. Like the original, it is made of a composite material created from fiberglass and resin cast in a specially designed mold. Also like the original, it has side and rear flaps that open to reveal a mass of frothy pink tulle. While these flaps are operated manually in this model, in the original they were operated mechanically by remote control. The prototype was itself a permutation of two earlier models in which Chalayan explored ideas about the relationship between nature, culture, and technology. Chalayan’s description of all three models as “monuments”—that is to say, “monuments to ideas”—is as much a comment about his process as his practice of design.

Anouk Wipprecht


What does fashion lack? “Microcontrollers” according to Dutch based fashiontech designer and innovator Anouk Wipprecht. As she is working in the emerging field of “fashion-tech”; a rare combination of fashion design combined with engineering, science and interaction/user experience design, she created an impressive body of tech-enhanced designs bringing together fashion and technology in an unusual way. She creates technological couture; with systems around the body that tend towards artificial intelligence; projected as ‘host’ systems on the human body, her designs move, breath, and react to the environment around them.

Part futuristic, part anime-meets-high fashion, her aesthetics are set apart from more utilitarian wearables (which are all about function) and can be considered artistic creations in themselves. Many of her designs have been exhibited in exhibitions as well as demonstrated during events and showcases. In Anouk’s designs the technology creates the aesthetics as opposed to simply enhancing a function which is hidden. Keen on showing the nuts and bolts of the garments (often the valves and mechanisms are displayed on the outside, we witness the designs creating their own unique forms of interaction, movement and meaning.

Wipprecht is artist, designer, curator and lecturer (Netherlands, Los Angeles, San Francisco, China, Austria) in electronic couture, worked for names as the Black Eyed Peas, SuperBowl, Eurovision, with work and interviews featured in international magazines. She is the brainchild/curator of the TECHNOSENSUAL ‘Where Fashion meets Technology’ exhibition, with attached Artist in Residency program to stimulate the grow of fashiontech projects coupling fashion designers and engineers together, that took place in Vienna/ Austria over the summer of 2012 and attracted 32.000 visitors in a two and a half month time span. She recently released the TECHNOSENSUAL exhibition catalog in collaboration with partner monochrom (AT) which gives a glimpse in the background concept and structure of the exhibition as well as representing featured artists participating in the exhibition.

Anouk is currently based in Vienna/Austria, and travels between Amsterdam (NL) Los Angeles (USA) San Francisco (USA) and Montreal (CA).


Review of OSS Techniques (Randall)

  • Logging into WordPress (NTU ID and password)
  • Filling out your profile, creating an avatar, etc.
  • Using the editor to create a post with text, media, and links
  • Embedding Video
  • Creating and using categories and tags: “Research” and “Micro-project”
  • Design and the featured image
  • Menus and the round trip between the student and class site
  • Installing and using the tag cloud widget
  • Aggregating posts to the class site
  • Online discussion through comments
  • OSS Announcements
  • Post notifications

Social Media Setup (Randall)

Each student needs to be setup for the following social media:

Screenshot 2016-01-21 07.28.36
  • To post images to the home page Flickr feed, I need to promote members and then it takes a minimum of six posted images and a few days before they will appear on the class site.