Due: Mon, Jan 20 5PM

Clothing and costume are both social and physical prosthetics: it moves with us, revealing and concealing, and expressing our identity and intentions. A central question of the course is finding new techniques to support this purpose that emphasize the movement of textiles and soft materials.

For this exercise, we would like you to create three simple samples which extend human skeletal movements into fabric. Each sample should extend the motion of a particular bone into a piece of fabric in relation to another body part (see example below). Our focus is on discovering the essential problems and brainstorming general approaches, so the materials and techniques should be crude and fast, e.g. wooden dowels, tape, zip ties, staples, cut fabric swatches.

Here is an example of one possibility:

  1. wooden dowel rod taped to your upper arm
  2. triangular fabric swatch, with one edge taped along the far end of the rod
  3. the tip of the loose side of the triangular fabric is held in the fingertips

The result is a very simple webbed ‘wing’: with your arm straight, the dowel will be close to your hand and the fabric slack; as your elbow is bent, the fabric will extend and perhaps become stretched tight.

This particular example could be about revealing the fabric, connecting body motion to the air, or exposing a color. Other suggested directions could include concealing the body itself.

A key principle is that the sample is a prosthetic in the sense that it integrates physically with a human to extend their gesture and fulfill their purposes. We’d like to avoid the puppeteering model where the human is present to move or operate the fabric but notionally separate and invisible.


Below are the criteria we will be using to assess your assignment. As you are exploring the possibilities for this assignment, keep these criteria in your focus:

  1. Stay open and go with your discoveries. We are most interested in seeing what you discover that is engaging and is working, not simply an implementation of an idea you have predetermined. For example, you may be trying to execute a specific idea, but along the way you discover something that is much more engaging or works more smoothly than your original idea. Put aside the original plan and go with the new discovery that is actually working.
  2. Experimentation and creative exploration is more important than refinement. The purpose of this assignment is for you to use your time trying multiple experiments and ideas, rather than perfecting only a few. Your resulting experiments need to work but do not need to be highly refined. Develop your experiments enough so that they are convincing and understandable, but not so much that you get stuck in the details of perfect construction. For now, accept that you are using temporary materials to create your experiments (tape, zip ties, etc.) and that there will still be room for further refinement.
  3. Make clear documentation. Your online documentation will be how we experience many of your assignments. It is very important that your documentation clearly communicates your projects. Tips: Remove distracting items from the background; make sure your camera is in focus and your lens is clean; use a tripod or other support to stabilize your camera; if you are shooting video, orient your camera in the landscape (horizontal) format; make sure your project is well lit and without distracting shadows.