The Glowing People

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Let’s brighten our lives! This is the motivation of my project. My original concept was to create textiles for clothing that communicate with electronic devices. The textiles would be acting as a screen. This idea is too ambitious to complete at this time so I reduced it to a more basic concept.

In my research my attention was drawn to the integrated circuits fabrics in the materials library. After spending some time reading about those I got more and more fascinated of how something that looks like fabric can contain information. It was like a dream come true reminding me of a project I did in 2005 inspired by Christo’s work.

My idea at the time was to create rich textiles and clothing resembling the sculptured work of Christo. I made specific clothes for this, onto which I then projected video and music. The whole concept was to use the clothes as a screen. The problem was that the images were limited by the beam of the light from the projector.

Following more research I became interested in the work of Joanna Berzowska, specifically her work on “Memory Rich Clothing: Second Skins that Communicate Physical Memory”. She focuses on clothes’ physical memory by attaching lights that react by contact if a person is touched in certain areas. The more lighted a piece of garment is meant that there was more physical contact with it. The lights fade away and eventually disappear the more time has past from the physical contact.

In the integrated circuit fabric I saw an opportunity to create the material which would contain the data: the video I would like to project on clothing without the restrictions of the projector. As an idea it sounds fantastic but creating it is very ambitious for somebody with no scientific knowledge. I then decided to imitate the screen on clothing by using lights that would look like pixels. After all, images on screens are made out of million of pixels.

To do so I started to consider using light in my project. First of all I tried to research a way to make my pattern by making my own electrical circuit. The hindrance was that I do not know much about electronics. My next step was to start looking at Christmas lights and party lights; this is when I came across glow sticks. I chose to work with them because they are flexible and because they do not need any electrical supply as well as they look very friendly and call you to play with them.

As a result I created multi-layered light patterned fabrics with pockets to conceal the glow sticks. I made drawings that reminded me of pixels which I laser cut into dark and hard fabrics so as to hide parts of the glow sticks. I then screen printed my fabrics with images that resembled pixels with glow in the dark UV paint. I chose light and transparent materials to put under the first layer of fabric giving extra playfulness to the light. I also used digitally printed polysportex material which gave extra texture to my fabric because of its holes. The fabric I have created changes according to different light conditions.

My idea is to use the fabric for party clothing because the light at clubs changes constantly. The most suitable clothes for my fabrics are corsets, because of their hard boning and the glamorous associations which are suitable for the clubbing atmosphere. My target group is young women between the age of 16 and 30 years of age.

My outcome is multi layered fabric for clothing that emits lights which are removable and customisable according to the user’s desires.