May 27- of blankets, shelters and textiles

In a world where we understand technologies as means to an end, that is as “tools” that “do something” or that “help us solve problems,” Nicholas Stedman’s “Blanket” is a special case.
His blanket does not fulfil any repetitive, conventional task, nor does it maintain any cold distance with the “user”. Rather, it evokes sensual and sensorial perceptions as its touch caresses and plays with the body of the person who dares engaging with it. This work, on the one hand, reconsiders the way we conventionally perceive technological artifacts, while, on the other, infuses them with more poetic and sensorial connotations.
the present collaboration with performance artist Kerry Segal contributes to enhance the sensoriality of the Blanket. Segal does not simply interact, but explores, learns and exchanges gestures as if the Blanket was a companion, rather than just a task-intensive machine.
below: the internal body of the blanket: 31 motorized joints interconnected by aluminum
linkages into an XY grid

As part of her collaboration with neuroscientist student Erin Fortier, performance artist Joce Tremblay spent 72 hours as a “Circadian subject,” confined in a basement room, which she now defines as a “cave,” consensually forcing her body (and neurological system) to a condition of full isolation from the external environment, included natural light, external sounds and human interaction. the objective was to test and experience (an auto-biology) the way the molecular clockwork (the Circadian Rhythm) decodes information by responding to and interacting with external and environmental inputs and how this  ecosystem mutates as the external circumstances change.
In the meantime, Fortier was monitoring her peer’s activity through the Internet.
here are some comments she shared with the audience once she was finally released from her confinement:  In addition to extreme isolation and boredom, the artist experienced a change in her sensorial perception of sound, time and space, while her body was adapting to a new environment, as she garnered an awareness of how time cues are  environmentally,  socially, naturally and  artificially dictated

 

To conclude the three days debate on the role and the location of the body within the ecology of medicine, the sciences and technology, Kirsty Robertson’s reflections represented a worth conclusion.
focusing her intervention on the intertextuality of the skin, Robertson mapped the role of the skin as an ambiguous element that floats at the intersection between the world of textiles, art and the medical domain, while it embodies the –corporate and metaphorical– battles and the risks of such worlds. Some recent artistic practices bring forth evidence of such interwoven and complicated series of relationships.

Zane Berzina’s responsive textiles, for instance, faithfully map the skin by responding thermo-chromatically to the touch.

Below: Zane Berzina, Skin Maps, light microscope micrographs, various magnifications of
human skin surface, textile, 2000-2004

 

In the case of Freddie Robins’ Skin-a good thing to live in, the knitted sweater takes the sahpe of a pink swater, that fits as if it represented  an alternative to and a second  skin. 

Below:Freddie Robins, Skin – a Good Thing to Live In, machine knitted wool, hand
crochet, 2002