It’s easy to see how wearable technology will soon become a more important part of our day to day lives, and Wear It — the Berlin-based agency for wearable technology, fashion and eTextiles — will be ready when it happens.Bringing together designers, artists and engineers to work on prototypes and share ideas, they’re also responsible for the Wear It festival, the first festival for wearable electronics and arts in Berlin.
Kicking off in the autumn of 2014, the Wear It festival crammed two days with speakers, workshops, parties, performances and an exhibition for an intense conference, split between Berlin’s Betahaus and PLATOON KUNSTHALLE, in one of the most exciting fields in technology. Attendees were also treated to a Show & Tell event, introducing them to an array of fascinating prototypes.
For example, the team behind the DIY ArduIMU Data Gloves for Music includes pop star Imogen Heap; the musical gloves are both instrument and controller, designed to interface with performance software such as Ableton.
Jussi Mikkonen’s team presented multiple items, including the MP3 hoodie — the hood’s cords control functions for pause, play, next, previous and volume — and the NOTE-bag with its eTextile elements that can record and playback sounds and music. Vincent Dugast and the team’s Moon Hoodie has a hood with an illuminated interior, which varies in intensity and rhythm via fabric buttons. René Bohne — author of the book Making Things Wearable — presented his LumiNet jacket, an organic illumination network using programming that spreads new code like a virus.
Jenny’s Playlist are an electronic music duo who perform their music using the wearable, interactive, polygonal 3D structures handmade by Mika Satomi. The HCI Group at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar developed interactive costumes of computational clothing for theater stages.
In addition to the display of new ideas made physical, Wear It also boasted an impressive group of speakers from academia, art, music, design and spaces in-between. Talks were given, including one by Kate Hartman — the Associate Professor of Wearable & Mobile Technology and Director of the Social Body Lab at Toronto’s OCAD University — an artist and educator whose work has been exhibited internationally and is included in New York MOMA’s permanent collection. The keynote speaker co-created sewable radio transceivers for clothing and has just published a book, Make: Wearable Electronics.
Alex Murray-Leslie is a PhD candidate at Sydney’s University of Technology, but is perhaps better known as a member of “artformance” group Chicks On Speed and her focus on the BipedShoe project of foot-worn music instruments.
Becky Stewart — co-founder of Codasign and Anti-Alias Labs, arts technology education and practice groups — holds a PhD in acoustics and spatial audio and has put GPS into hand-cobbled leather shoes, and is currently working on turning the Brooklyn Bridge into a musical instrument.
Leslie Birch’s projects include the Orbit Skirt, which shows the orbit of the International Space Station, a bracelet that allows astronauts and earthlings to share scents and other innovations. Katharina Bredies has worked extensively knitting with conductive yarns and textiles as a medium for electronics. With such a strong program, it’s fortunate that Wear It returns in 2015 and will continue annually. No doubt it will remain at the cutting edge of a rapidly evolving field.
Check out their website to find more about their next edition in September 2015.