Stir It On! – Interactive Fashion Technology Art

Stir It On! is a story about my experience of swimming at the bioluminescent bay at night. Imagine waves of dark ocean water under starry sky and millions of tiny organisms illuminate when they are stirred up. This is also my comments on social experience in Seoul public space. (ah, that’s another blog entry there.)

more about the project here >>

SIO(Stir It On!) prototype version 1.0 (inactive, back)Stir It On! active

My first prototype version 1.0 of Stir It On! had its debuit on the runaway at Social Fabrics, Dallas, TX. Am I happy about the result? I feel neutral about it. I’m glad that I had this exhibition so that I could force myself to really complete first prototype and at the same time, I’ve encountered many more problems with my design of this prototype which I haven’t thought out during sketching interaction design process.  Immediately my mind was already so full of different ideas of how to tackle these newly found challenges…also different ideas of design and surface treatment of the skirt… and more.  I’m ready to go back to my sketch pad again to fix the prototype 1.0 and make it into 1.1. It never ends, huh?  Actually, this thing has just begun.

I have met some interesting groups from different part of the world who showcased their wearable projects. It’s always interesting to watch how other artists approach wearable projects. (That is another blog entry again… I suppose. I’ve been slacking in my blogs…I know!)

I had this idea since my short trip to Viequez Island, Puerto Rico in Oct 2006. I’ve been sketching my Stir It On! skirt ideas for almost over a year. I started to play with arduino board and touch sensors during summer of 2007 and I got into the production stage at the beginning of Nov 2007. I started to collect different materials that I could possibly use in creating this piece. I planned to work on it extensively but, it wasn’t going to happen after my accident and I couldn’t get hold of my sewing machine until few days before my departure. I have done some LEDs & beeds stitching on the 2nd layer of surface on the textile pattern I cut for the skirt by the time I arrived to LA.

It was quite a challenge to finish a wearable project at a temporary location (kitchen at my brother’s apt in Hermosa Beach, CA) not to mention that I was doing it all by myself. I have no collaborator this time around. Making a skirt itself is a tedious procedure, especially Stir-It-On! which requires many different layers of fabric and hand sewing beeds & 65 LEDs with conductive treads and fabric. On top of that, working with the circuit board, wiring, soldering, programming and testing where I kept finding missing electronic parts. By the time, my skirt was shaping, I knew where 5 different RadioShack are located near Hermosa Beach and a very good you-name-it-you-find-it electronic shop, thanks to Tom’s friend, Casey’s reference.

When I arrived in CA 2 weeks before the show, I knew I had to discipline myself to focus on this project. Believe or not, I haven’t even walked at the beach for 2 weeks of my stay at Hermosa Beach. I looked at it from a block away as I get my daily cappuccino & bagel… I woke up at 8:30 am everyday to start a day and worked until 1, 2, or 3 am if that was necessary. I didn’t drink more than a glass of wine if I went out & I limited my social activities, which is hard for me as you would know if you knew me… 3 days before the deadline, I had to look for a 10 MHz crystal and one day before, the only needle in my sewing machine broke in half – which never happened before. I had to get a taxi and get needles from the sewing machine store since I didn’t have a car during day. I felt like I was having an obstacle after an obstacle constantly after my accident of getting second degree burns on my legs.  Therefore, I started to worry tremendously every little things for close future & I felt like nothing would go right. Then some point, I’ve realized that I’ve got to stop worrying about things that hasn’t happened or out of my control. That’s when I made a peace with myself.  I was slowly finding back my usual optimism.

The night before the show in Dallas, the frame of my only pair of eye glasses broke…(I’m wearing them at the very moment which is taped for time being.) Also, 6V batter DC power was acting somewhat inconsistently compared to USB power source. However, I didn’t panic or got stressed. I was rather calm. I just did as much as possible. Tested a bit & soldered a wire that was broken at the backstage. The prototype version 1.0 was partially working and that is better than not working. That is a start for me. I have a lot of work to do to get this piece to be where it supposed to be. I’m excited again.

I was detinitely tired and stressed but, I was glad that I’ve made it. On the returning flight to LA, I was watching light blue shades of soft clouds and light streams of traffics on the road that looked like blood streams in microscope… I felt excited to feel the beauty of nature right next to the man made structures. I was content again. For me, creating fashion technology art is about the process, not necessarily about the final product. I find it important how I experience in creating it as much as how the wearer experiences by wearing it.  It’s all about process and I should enjoy the experience fullest whether it’s hard work or play.