A bizarre and thought-provoking project from the students of Parsons Flesh and Chrome Wearable Technology group.
There's a fine balance to walk in wearable electronics between form and function. You want as much utility as possible, and you like to imagine that someday, something you create will be as indispensable to someone's life as a smart phone. But you also want to create something beautiful; an object that fits seamlessly and attractively into the individual aesthetic as it fits into the routine. And just when it starts to feel impossible to separate the medium from this conflict, along comes a project like Zoomorphic.
The brainchild of Parson's MFA candidates Ayodamola Okunseinde and Fito Segrera, Zoomorphic was one of the stranger sights we encountered at SXSW Interactive. A man wearing black-out goggles with cameras jutting and twitching, from the front, and a harness with a dome containing fruit and fruit flies on the back. The students were kind enough to stop and explain:
Ayodamola and Fito are founding member's of the Parson's Student group, Flesh and Chrome, and Zoomorphic is the fruit of months of labor. Originally designed as an exploration of Body and Metaphor, the concept was eventually expanded to include the follow-up assignment, Body and Data. Their adviser and instructor Sabine Seymour (You may recognize her as the author of Fashionable Technology, easily the most coffee table-worthy book on wearables I've encountered), suggested that they should drop by the booth and show us the results, and we were fascinated!
I don't expect to see this look on Paris runways soon, and I suppose (even hope!) that for the time being, I can expect few of my wearables to require care and feeding, but as an exercise in thought, and a reminder that wearables, like all art, are more than either practicality or beauty, and have the power to generate innovation and conversation, I'd call the project a success!