Cybersalon: Cyborg’s New Clothes – Wearable Computing, Interactive Fashion - Review

Cybersalon's The Cyborg’s New Clothes– Wearable Computing, Interactive Fashion and Skin 2.0 held at DigitasLBi offices.

Described as a 'special feature on wearables and interactive fashion beyond celebratory reviews of the latest gadget bling'.

This was quite possibly the most bizarre evening of presenters ive ever attended - from the sublime eccentric, to the damned right brilliant to the 'What The ?'

It got off to a slightly chaotic start, whilst the Chair, Stefan Lutschinger (game designer, curator, artist & lecturer of Media, Culture and Communications at Middlesex University)  fumbled with his notes and tried to locate his ‘cathedral’, whilst 'co-host’ Adriana Smentek (student of previously mentioned University Course) hovered glamorously by his side.  

Now, I have to say that this was the most incongruous aspect of the evening.  An evening dedicated to technology and futuristic type things, but with the presentation style of a game show from the 80s or 90s.  I mean, Adriana was very beautiful, but her role aside from this was less than clear . Aside from introducing herself she didn’t say a word all night.  It seemed to be slightly out of sorts with the theme of the night, and in fact any respectable event this decade!

But anyway, lets leave that to one side. First we were treated to a live dance installation (Theia’s Aura by Simon Sarginson).  It took me a little while to work out that the colourful bubbles on the projector were following the dancers movements, but once I did, it made much more sense and was actually rather enchanting.  If you want a more artistic/esoteric description 'the technology, rather than inviting us to succumb to its abstract inhuman interface and getting more intimate with it, hides itself from the viewer and produces a reactive cloud using the body as a language to create a fantastical spectacle manifesting the imagination of the performer'.
Next up was Prof. Johannes Grenzfurthner (founder of Monochrom an international art-technology-philosophy group, based in Austria), who is most definitely an eccentric sort.  He came to the stage dressed in a bright orange astronauts suit.  

His topics encapsulated various types of robotics interlinked with clothing and sex. 
He talked about some of the events that Monochrome are involved in which includes Festival Roboexotica where people create robots to mix cocktail,  which was kinda cool. See below image for Truth or Dare Shot Dress

Monochrom also hold a conference about sex and technology called Arse Elektronika about how sex influences the development of technology - especially with the advent of wearables   - I’m sure you've seen some of the potential apps designed for Google Glass?.  

Hard to beat

But actually I think Jesse Darlingactually did.  (she is as her biog says 'an artist, curator and occasional essayist, researching the deep links between technology, power and experience').  She had been asked to have a critical look at – and through – Google Glass (or Google ass as she calls it).  There was no ambiguity in her introduction regarding her dislike of some forms of technology breakthroughs, namely Google+ and Google Glass, which was bloody awesome considering she was in a room full of predominantly techie types. She offered a cynical yet humorous insight into her perception of world of Google Glass.  

She highlighted that the advert for GG features an ethnic minority female wearing unisex apparel, however when researching which market the product was given to for testing, it didn’t exactly didn't exactly reflect the all quotas ticked poster girl.    Ah, instead white, men, generally looking oh so cool. 

She made many interesting yet defamatory comments about Google Glass which when taking into account the actual viewing functionality of the device concluded that it is pretty much objectifying (too much to go into here).  And I agree.  It was refreshing to hear someone speak so eloquently yet without pretention whilst defying the opinions of 'le cool'.

Next up was Dr. Phoebe Moore, (Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Middlesex University).  I have to be honest, I have absolutely no idea what the Doctor was talking about for the majority of her presentation (neither did my friend), I didn’t find it to be well structured or engaging.   Towards the end I picked up some interesting comments around how companies are 'quantifying life' all in the name of increasing productivity. I don't think that increasing productivity in its base form is actually a negative, however if it's at the expense of individualism and creating a mass of uniformity it's not a well thought out plan.  Have these companies considered the long terms implications of such short 'gain'?.  Much research shows that increased stress = increased sick days = reduced productivity.  It’s about balance, right? 

A last minute fill in from Ilicco Eliaa  (Head of Mobile at LBi)  who spoke about how technologies might evolve. It would have been good to hear more from him, as perspectives from key people at leading agencies can be interesting.  Unfortunately though, his time was rushed, as he had to make way for the next and final speaker....

Last and yet least - Krõõt Juurak  (choreographer and performer and member of Chicks on Speed).  This was about Pets. Right?  I used to listen to Chicks On Speed at after parties back in the day so I had high hopes. Unfortunately my hopes were not realised.  I don't want to be mean so I think I will stop there. 

I will be going to the next one.

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