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Exploring the diverse interpretation of technology within fashion, The Design Museum Holon in Tel Aviv exhibits four groups of cutting edge installations inspired by the concept of 'Mechanical Couture'.
Examining the lesser profiled driving forces behind creative processes and design constructs employed within fashion, this unique and groundbreaking exhibition features the work of world-renowned designers including Issey Miyake, Dai Fujiwara, Shelley Fox, Marloes ten Bohmer and Alyce Santoro. Curated by independent US-based design duo Curatorsquared, Mechanical Couture showcases specially commissioned works by international and local designers who have used the latest technology and machinery to explore and redefine our understanding of haute couture. This intelligent dissection offers an insightful and unprecedented behind-the-scenes peak into the prevalent notions of handwork and craftsmanship in fashion. i-D Online caught up with Texan-based Alyce Santoro, a conceptual sound artist and environmental social activist.
Describe your label in 5 words? Subtle reality attunement devices.
What is inspiring you this season? The industrialised nations' roll in the wanton destruction of the environment inspires me to create work that highlights our interconnectedness with one another and with the natural world of which we are a part.
How do you define and maintain the level of quality you work to? For me, quality depends on conceptual continuity. I do not differentiate between life and art; I use my life as a grand experiment to test the theories and concepts put forth in my work. I believe that everyone has an opportunity to contribute to the betterment of society through even the most routine, simple and seemingly minute personal actions.
How would you define haute couture? It implies high fashion that is exclusive and has little to no practical function in society. Truly beautiful and inspired fashion, in addition to form, must also take into account social and environmental responsibility.
What inspired the specific designs you contributed to the initiative? The Voidness Dress and the Cacophony (Musical Score) Dress are made of fabric woven from audio-cassette tape that has been recorded with an intricate collage of sounds. The creation of Sonic Fabric itself was inspired by a theory in quantum physics that suggests that, at the most basic level, everything may be composed of little more than vibration. The style of the dresses is inspired by ritual garments worn by shamans and superheroes when they wish to access particular superpowers, subtle energies, or strengths.
What mechanical process do you personally instigate when creating? Johann Wolfgang von Goethe relied on a multi-sensory form of scientific investigation which allowed for the development of prolonged empathic relationships with his subjects. He called this form of inquiry "delicate empiricism". My own work stems from a similar process in which I engage a form of subtle hearing, or deep listening.
What machines do you rely on for manufacturing garments? Sonic Fabric is woven on a dobby loom at a family-operated textile mill in New England. The garments and other work that I create from it are fabricated using a solar powered sewing machine at my studio.
How do you think the level of mechanical developments have helped or hindered production within the fashion industry? Mechanical developments have certainly facilitated the kind of mass production that has allowed fashion to become a colossal global industry. In many cases, this has resulted in compromises in integrity of materials and manufacturing, as mechanised mass production almost always places its emphasis on maximising output and minimising cost without regard for the health and well-being of workers or the environment. It is, of course, possible to use machines effectively and efficiently while simultaneously considering environmental and social impact. It is only through the concerted effort of each and every one of us doing our parts to support sustainable production - not only in fashion, but in every industry - that we may have a chance at creating a healthier planet and future for all.
Text Milly McMahon
Images Dai Fujiwara