Test_Lab Clothing without Cloth, Material Explorations in the Field of Fashion & Technology considers in the first place the design of new materials for clothing, and the transformation of the relationship between body and clothing which might develop from these new materials. Wearable technology has been one of the main research-theme's of V2_lab for quite a while now, the connection with the fashion world has not always been sought as directly as currently. Examples of projects which one could call fashionable technology were the projects that both Daan Roosegaarde (Intimacy) and Anouk Wipprecht (Pseudomorphs) developed last year in collaboration with V2_.
In 2006 a seminal event took place at Virtueel Platform and V2_: the expert meeting and public presentation Fleshing Out Technology combined – certainly in retrospect – the perspectives of bioart and werable technology, and assessed the possibilities of new materials for fashion and for clothing. There was a Test_Lab Fleshing Out, and reports were written by Leonieke Verhoog (Day 1 Fleshing Out) and Sabine Seymour (Day 2 Fleshing Out).
Previously when the term wearable technology was mentioned, one would rather thing of computers which were worn 'on the body' – and which, in the future, might become embedded in clothing... Steve Mann's 'experiment' with wearing a computer on his head used to be the key image of wearable technology. He was interviewed in 1998 By Arjen Mulder for The Art of the Accident, the text is online as Experiment is Accident.
Another 'key image' – and by now classic of electronic art – is the performance Ping Body by the Australian artist Stelarc. His 'wearable' technology - contraptions looks almost 'steampunk' now – but the research into the body-technology interface was there, and is still topical. "The body has been augmented, invaded and now becomes a host - not only for technology, but also for remote agents" he wrote in the essay Parasite Visions, 1997. Piem Wirtz mentions his works when she was interviewed by Valerie Lamontagne on the topic of wearable technology. Stelarc's vision is much more extreme, testing the body through technology rather than searching for fashionable technologies or new materials for clothing... In 1997 Stelarc ended his essay with these sentences: "Consider a body whose awareness is extruded by surrogate robots in situations and spaces where no body could go. These machines with arrays of sensors, manipulators and hybrid locomotion would exponentially multiply the operational possibilities - scaling-up the subtlety, speed and complexity of human action. Perhaps what it means to be human is about not retaining our humanity ..." That's quite a different perspective from contemporary fashionable technologies...
Of course there is much more in the archive which relates to wearable technology.