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Performative Wearables: Bodies, Fashion and Technology


Performative Wearables: Bodies, Fashion and Technology

Lamontagne, Valérie (2017) Performative Wearables: Bodies, Fashion and Technology. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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This thesis argues that wearables are inextricably performative. By this I mean that performance—human and nonhuman performance such as those encountered both on and off stage, as well as social performance and the performance of fashion and technology—contribute to the creation and meaning of wearables. With this aim in view, the thesis explores performance from four research angles: a framing of the birth of wearables in a performative context; a theoretical analysis of wearables as somatically, aesthetically, and technologically constituted via the performative; a historical back-dating of pre-computational wearables stemming from Modernist performative fields; and the in-situ case studies of contemporary wearables creations. It is my goal to demonstrate that wearables are performative across transversal timelines, materials, styles, fabrication processes, and body expressions.

Using references from the art-research labs currently involved in developing fashion-tech and wearables—as an important counterbalance to industry’s contributions to wearables—I ask this central question: how can concepts of performance elucidate wearables? I look toward performance as a key thread that follows wearables’ beginnings to the current, contemporary technological culture embedded in media arts and experimental contributions to the field. Why? Because wearables are more than the sum of the technologies they incorporate, they are the result of their admixtures of fashion, bodies, display, and transformation (in both human and technological form). In short, wearables are active, (a)live, and hence both the objects themselves and the individuals wearing them participate in the co-creation of their performance. Performance is complex—striding as it does across disciplines from the technological and engineering; to the human and unscripted—and for this reason it is richly suited to the challenges encountered when describing wearables. Performance is the key pathway, in my opinion, through which we can gain stronger insight into the stakes, meanings, messiness, desires, and technological innovations that are being developed in wearables in artistic labs past, present and future.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies > Individualized Program
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Lamontagne, Valérie
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Individualized Program
Date:15 April 2017
Thesis Supervisor(s):Salter, Christopher
ID Code:982473
Deposited On:31 May 2017 19:16
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:55
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