Anneke Smelik is Katrien van Munster professor of Visual Culture at the Radboud University Nijmegen (Netherlands), where she is coordinator of the MA programme ‘Creative Industries’. She published widely on identity, body, memory and technology in fashion, cinema, videoclips and digital art. Her most recent books include Delft Blue to Denim Blue. Contemporary Dutch Fashion; Materializing Memory in Art and Popular Culture; Thinking Through Fashion. A Guide to Key Theorists; and a book in Dutch on cyborgs in popular culture. Anneke Smelik is project leader of the research programme “Crafting Wearables; Fashionable Technology” (2013-2018), funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. www.annekesmelik.nl.
Summary of the lecture:
An exciting new field in the creative industry is the integration of fashion and technology, for example by embedding electronics, microprocessors, solar panels, LEDs, or interactive interfaces into the fabric, textile, or clothing. Dutch designers like Pauline van Dongen, Iris van Herpen, Bart Hess, Lucy McRae, Marina Toeters and Anouk Wipprecht form the vanguard in the international field of fashionable technology. However, while the future of wearable technology, or ‘wearables’, has been announced many times, the praxis lags behind. Wearables rarely leave the lab or catwalk, because they are not tested through the entire production chain; the aesthetics of the design is not integrated in the technology; or they remain a gadget without taking into account the wearer’s body, identity or performance. In this lecture Anneke Smelik will explore how technology changes identity and if such a change leads to particular practices, especially in relation to sustainability. One of the urgent questions of today’s fashion is whether and how wearables can lead to more sustainable products and more sustainable behaviour.