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Magazine > May 2010

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JF: And Yael's proposal is such a great echo in opposites from Ying Gao's, the one defying surveillance, the other taking surveillance to an absurd extreme. I have to think of Hasan Elahi with his constant self-tracking made public.

GD: How nice to see the link with articles by our Israeli designers in the show, Yael Taragan and Gayla Rosenfeld. (press here to read the articles)
Yael's project for Designing Machines deals with the possible use of biometric databases for security, and I feel like I have been seeing and hearing so much about this lately. With the unbelievable new illegal immigration law in Arizona, it seems to be the hot-button terminology. It really is frightening to think where it could lead.


JF: Good morning, Ginger. As a friend recently said, "Thursday is my favorite day as the New York Times has its Style and Home sections then." I am coming to agree! There is a very interesting article today called "My Mannequin, Myself: What Talking Heads Say" (click on the title to read the article), by Cathy Horyn. It is part social commentary, part humor. It quotes Simon Doonan and talks about "abstracts" and the reasons for their popularity. This makes me think about our installation, and how this issue will be approached by the exhibition designers. For Pattern Language: Clothing as Communicator we worked with Goldsmith, a fabricator in Long Island City, New York, and it was a complicated and time consuming matter of specing what we needed which then needed further and extensive "plastic surgery," literally, to make the forms work. Hoping for a heads up on the exhibition designer process to launch this important piece of the project.

GD: I love Cathy Horyn...as you said, the perfect mix between a deep thought and a good laugh. I will have to check that out. Yes, I am also really anxious to begin working with the exhibition designers on the forms and structures that will figure into the installation. Because we have both done fashion exhibitions in the past and know how tough it can be to do something outside of the mannequin box, we want to know what that will be.
You are meeting with Mika and Hannah of KOBAKANT next week, right?


JF: Next week is very busy including lunch with Tom Lentz, director of Harvard University Art Museums--it will be interesting to hear how their huge Renzo Piano project is proceeding. Wednesday, all day, I will spend at Mass College of Arts doing final crits for the sculpture department--always exhilarating to see what the next generation is thinking about, and exhausting too as so much rides for them on even a casual remark. Then, on Thursday, a tour of the sculpture on campus at MIT, as it is inside buildings and only can be seen on such a tour. So, inside the Alvar Aalto building to see Petah Coyne, and more! and then, finally, to meet with Hannah and Mika, now that the volcanic ash has settled. I will take lots of photographs


JF: Once again, my morning perusal of the New York Times offers food for thought to start off the day (to read the new article click here). First, I find it very interesting that Roberta Smith, the art reviewer, is covering over nearly two full pages, shows at the Brooklyn Art Museum and at the Met on fashion. And maybe that explains this second observation: the review is mainly description of luscious garments, but not a discussion of ideas. This is about costume and not concept. Maybe that is what happens with an art museum and an art critic take on fashion as opposed to the approach of a design museum, where ideas rather than styles are the focus.


GD: Yes, I agree. A fashion exhibition is such a different animal altogether...it shouldn't be a boutique and yet it can't be completely conceptual. Add in the uninspired old-fashioned way of showing clothes on mannequins lined up as if in a parade and it is quite a challenge. You are so right, though, that with the forum of a design museum, this project can focus on more then the garments alone.


JD: Before meeting with Mika and Hannah of Kobakant, I had a tour of some of the sculpture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology which since the mid 1980s has commissioned major works by major artists as part of the construction of each building. This has resulted in a wonderful rich environment with major worldclass art integrated into the architecture and campus. The newly opened New Media Center, where Hannah's lab is located, is amazing, a huge new building, designed by Maki and Associates, the Pritzker Prize winning Japanese firm. It is clean and clear, open and exciting, a rational sequence of spaces, elegant and impressive. Hannah says it is a great place to work as well!

Matthew Ritchie with MIT pool beyond
Matthew Ritchie with MIT pool beyond

Detail of a work at MIT
Detail of a work at MIT

Sol LeWitt floor at MIT
Sol LeWitt floor at MIT

Hannah had told me to go to the fifth floor, but that was all I knew. So I wandered around a bit and then, through a glass wall, saw eight pinkish/orange t-shirts, hanging in a row over a long work table, and I knew I had arrived. To meet Mika for the first time, and to see the project they have created specifically for the show was so exciting. We discussed the installation of the work, and think that if the exhibition designers can replicate, or indicate the arrangement there in the lab, it would be great: the row of sequenced hanging shirts that take one through the eight stages of making the playable piano shirt, suspended in a line on simple hangars over a long workbench/table where all the tools and materials are spread out. This would resonate with the installation of Marloes's rotationalmould shoe. We talked about the possibility of the designers coming to lead a DIY workshop, which would be wonderful. And they told me they have a lot of video footage of making this project that can be sent to Amnon Silber for the Espro Mika's few weeks here have been most productive! And tomorrow she returns to Japan.


Hannah and Mika
Working at the studio

Hannah and Mika
Inspecting the little piano

Hannah and Mika
Making the shirt play!

Hannah and Mika
Hannah and Mika aside the piano shirt

Hannah and Mika
Displaying lots of piano shirts!


GD: Yes, I agree. A fashion exhibition is such a different animal altogether...it shouldn't be a boutique and yet it can't be completely conceptual. Add in the uninspired old-fashioned way of showing clothes on mannequins lined up as if in a parade and it is quite a challenge. You are so right, though, that with the forum of a design museum, this project can focus on more then the garments alone.


GD: What wonderful news! I love that the new shirts are orange and I think that their idea for display is really smart and just right. Thank you for taking the time to go and visit and see the Kobakant team in action.
I will have to put the new Media Center at MIT on the top of my list of places to see when I am next in Boston...it sounds wonderful.


JF: Marloes ten Bhomer and Ironman--what do they have in common? Sounds like a weird riddle or some kind of surreal pairing, but this weekly newsletter, Inhabitat/Ecouterre reports that the exact same machine and technology that Marloes is using in her rapidprototype shoe made the body armor for the movie, Iron Man 2. (to read the whole article click here)



GD: Very cool!  And speaking of pop culture crossovers, I also read where Katy Perry wore an LED dress to the Met's Costume Institute Gala (see pic).  The dress is the work of tech gurus as opposed to a fashion designer incorporating fashion (as was the case with the Chalayan LED Dress we have in the show).  No doubt Chalayan managed to go beyond the "look what we can do" factor and design something inspiring and beautiful. 

Katy Perry
Katy Perry at the Met's Costume Institute Gala


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