Whispers Iteration I

The images in this gallery are of the first of three iterations of garments designed and created for the Whispers Exhibition, which was exhibited at the Cyber Arts Electronics Festival in Bilbao Spain, 2004, SIGGRAPH 2004 in Los Angeles, and The New Forms Festival 2005 in Vancouver Canada.

The second iteration of the project was created and exhibited at SIGGRAPH 2005 and at the 2006 Torino Olympics. Pictured is a garment made from stainless steel “fabric”. The exhibition consists of eight to twelve garments hung suspended in space in the exhibition space. The public is invited to wear the clothing, the closures of which are embedded with soft physiological sensors receptive to the physical state of the wearer, be it receiving information about breath rate, muscle activity, pulse or electro-magnetic sensations. The garment also houses a variety of affective devices, such as vibrators, speakers and lights that allow the wearer to experience their own physical state as communicated to them by the clothing. Participants can also choose to share the experience of their physical state with others via wireless technology, such as RFID chips and antenna, and blue tooth technology embedded in the clothing. For example: Person A will feel their own rate of breath through subtle vibrations in the lining of the garment in real time congruency with their own rate of breath as sensed by the garment. Person A can choose to share their breath data with Person B via RFID recognition. Person B will feel their own breath via vibration and hear Person A’s breath via speakers embedded in the skirt. Person B can then share their data with Person C, and by association can share the experience of Person A with Person C even though no apparent connection has been made. For example: Person B is feeling their breath and hearing Persons A’s, Person C is feeling their breath and hearing Person B’s. Person B chooses to breath in sync with Person A based on what they hear from their garment. Person C chooses to breath in sync with Person B based on what they hear. All three people are breathing at the same rate by inspiration of each other’s respiration, and the Whispers System software will recognize this connection and all three Person’s garments will light up with an undulation of light in real time congruency with the breath, and the participants will be able to see that they are invisibly yet physically connected to one another in space in time. It is beautiful.

The Whispers research Group is comprised of Thecla Shiphorst, Susan Kozel, Norm Jaffe, Robb Lovell, Jan Erhu, Diana Burgoyn, Calvin Chow, Sang Ma, Camille Baker, and Gretchen Elsner, who is the principal designer and textile researcher.


Photography by Elisa Gonzalez. www.photogonzalez.com