Artist Xuedi Chen’s latest innovation bares the naked truth of our digital exposure with a wearable 3D printed mesh. Creatively spurred by the complicated nature of our digital selves, our public and private lives diligently tracked, x.pose offers a glimpse at the inescapable loss of privacy in our digital connectedness. The final product combines a flexible 3D printed mesh, structural fabric and reactive display material connected to a mobile app. As the wearer becomes more digitally exposed, more portions of the reactive display turn opaque revealing the once-covered skin.
The fashion underscores the true nature of our digital selves as more use occurs, the control over what we could cover and what we want to show or hide slips away. In order to produce the wearable and reactive object, multiple steps across various technologies converged. Using Node.js and PhoneGap, Chen first built a mobile app and server to automatically collect data over a period of time. Second, the personalized wearable couture used the recorded data as the basis for the generative aspects. The output is an abstract 3D mesh armature of location data points collected for nearly a month. By feeding the dataset into processing to produce the pattern, it could then be exported to Rhino to make the 3D mesh. Finally, the mobile app and server provided real-time data transmission through Bluetooth to an Arduino controlling reactive displays that change opacity revealing the wearer’s skin in proportion to the volume of information that is passively generated.
Xuedi Chen’s awareness of our paradoxical existence in our modern world produced this fascinating couture design that seeks to answer her questions anyone with a digital print must face.
“By participating in this hyper-connected society while having little to no control of my digital data production, how much of myself do I unknowingly reveal? To what degree does the aggregated metadata collected from me paint an accurate portrait of who I am as a person? What aspects of my individuality are reflected in this portrait?”
The short answer is that we reveal more than we realize and have little control once we open Pandora’s Box and log in, but the metadata is as much you as your sequenced genes are you. A portrait can expose a full form, a nakedness that can be harsh or loaded with vulnerability or liberating and likely more. Yet the portrait, the data, the skin, is the surface. While there are nuances and much to be gleaned from such exposure, and a complicated relationship to the nature of the exposure, there are currents under the surface that conduct the self. X.pose is a jarring reflection of our reflected digital portrait, but the life behind the reflection defines the appearance, defines the reality of what and how we see.