De-formance

In this second iteration of body-influenced design by Jessica Smarsch, worn sensors translate muscle use into costumes shapes and textile effects.

In this second iteration of body-influenced design from Jessica Smarsch, intuitive movements become cho­reographed narratives and are used to create woven and knit costumes for performance. Working with the body as an intuitive tool, worn sensors translate muscle use into costumes shapes and textile effects, infusing somatic and spiritual significance into the design.
Jessica Smarsch, De-Formance
Jessica Smarsch, De-Formance. Video still
As a continuation of Smarsch’s Constructing Connectivity Masters thesis, completed at Design Academy Eindhoven in 2015, the new De-Formance software is written in JavaScript and runs through a web browser in order to create a widely accessible platform for future design use. New design methods employed in this experiment include the manipulation of the clothing form itself based on the overall analysis of a movement session. Beginning with a simple shirt and pant form, selected vector points are affected by the body’s energy output: high energy outputs cause the vector points (and costume shapes) to shrink while relaxed, low energy outputs allow the costumes to expand. The graphic, digital patterns created in conjunction with this method create the texture and effect in the textile itself.
Jessica Smarsch, De-Formance
Jessica Smarsch, De-Formance. Photo Lisa Klappe
Inspiration for this design investigation began with a research into the many early and folk societies that commonly engaged in ritual performance to communicate with the spiritual world. In many examples, aspects of the performed rituals were translated as literal symbols onto the subsequent ritual objects. These objects functioned both practically, and through symbolic meaning. In western society today, we see a shift away from literal belief systems of the ancient and recent past and a movement towards an embrace of an undefined world where the body is a spiritual entity. Through practices like meditation and mind-body awareness we become more in touch with our whole selves and place more trust in body intuition. By using body intuition as a design tool, we may find that we reach a higher level of self-awareness, creating a personally and spiritually significant output.
Jessica Smarsch, De-Formance
Jessica Smarsch, De-Formance. Photo Lisa Klappe
As designed objects, the cultural artefacts of past civilizations are historically rich and laden with meaning. Through this project, we dismantle and rebuild the given conceptions – of design, – of dance, – of technology, by translating ephemeral narratives to design through body movement. When we can understand ourselves as spiritual entities, and not simply as mindless consumers, we can create meaningful designs that may one day be the cultural artefacts and legacies of our civilization.
Jessica Smarsch, De-Formance
Jessica Smarsch, De-Formance. Photo Lisa Klappe

The De-Formance film brings the viewer through the design process and research, beginning with the body’s “birth” and discovery of the effect of its movement. Through movement, we see how designs are created and how those same designs then further affect continued movements.

Original movement sequences for this project were developed earlier this year in collaboration with cho­reographer Heidi Vierthaler and dancers Luca Cacitti and Shay Partush. Using Vierthaler’s somatic method of movement (Stream-Flow®) loose themes such as risk and vulnerability became starting points for movement. A custom software, developed in collaboration with Lionel Ringenbach then interpreted the muscle energy of the dancers. After capturing the data from the final choreographed sequences, costume shapes, textures and colours were developed specific to each sequence, in cooperation with the TextielLab at the TextielMuseum in Tilburg. During the filming, the dancers reinterpreted the original choreographed sequences, while also developing new movements in response to the costume.

Jessica Smarsch, De-Formance
Jessica Smarsch, De-Formance. Photo Lisa Klappe

Each stage of this project has been an evolution from movement (dance) to design (costumes) to further movement (film and live performance) to further design and movement (photographic styling and narrative).

During Dutch Design Week at the Piet Hein Eek gallery, live performances on opening and closing weekend allow visitors to witness the interpretation of movement as inspired by the costume artefacts. The De-Formance film is shown all week and guides the viewer through the intended narrative by providing strong, associative scenery, enhanced through lighting, angles, space and sound. In this film, we see the evolution of textile making from the body to the machine into digital interpretation, and an ultimate return to the body as a source for knowledge and design input.

Jessica Smarsch, De-Formance
Jessica Smarsch, De-Formance. Video still

De-Formance
Piet Hein Eeek Gallery
Concept, Project Development and Design
: Jessica Smarsch
Choreography and Development
: Heidi Vierthaler
Software Development and Animation
: Lionel Ringenbach
Dance and Choreography Collaboration
: Luca Cacitti and Shay Partush
Photography Direction (Film)
: Fleur Boonman
Photography
: Lisa Klappe

Sodales purus vel vero possimus temporibus venenatis

Sodales purus vel vero possimus temporibus venenatis

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