ABSTRACT

This paper elucidates two positions (the positivist and the critical) that inform the creative design of technological fashion. On the one side is the instrumentalist trend toward the minimized or disappearing interface. On the other, some theorists and artists suggest that increased invisibility presents social and ethical concerns (such as invasiveness and control) when networking and communication devices are involved.

The positivist side has roots in modernist design. Positivist designers create responsive and controllable fabrics using shape-changing polymers, e-textiles, and nano-scale electronics to resolve clumsy and prohibitive problems of hardware vs. body. The critical side draws upon archetypal ideas about technology and the body that are familiar from literature and science fiction, and includes writers and media artists who emphasize the intractable or mechanic nature of technological clothing to enhance, rather than erase, the body. The paper concludes that both positions must be considered as the field of technological fashion moves forward.

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