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Sha Xin Wei

Topological Softwear

"To Clothe Is to Inhabit"

Continuous Sensing of Gesture for Control of Audio-Visual Media, 2003 (video)
Continuous Sensing of Gesture for Control of Audio-Visual Media, 2003 (video)
As part of his project Topological Softwear, Sha Xin Wei is continuing his research conducted at the Topological Media Lab on sensate fabrics and their potential for expression. With help from a team of apprentice engineers and guest artists working with such fabrics and with responsive environments, Sha designs sensate garments that can generate images and sounds. Equipped with wireless sensors linked to gesture-tracking devices and gesture-processing systems, these garments allow those who wear or touch them to produce aural and visual content that varies depending on a person’s position in the space.

The critical basis of this research relies on the concept of a plenum rather than on a world made up of distinct elements separated by empty space. Topological Softwear wants to make visible and tangible this “plenitude,” this physical continuity between individuals and their surroundings. By clothing bodies and covering the surfaces through which these bodies move, Sha is seeking to create “thickenings,” deep zones of contact where individuals and their surroundings can touch, merge and abolish empty space. The extension of the individual through space by sound and images produces this thickening of the experience while favouring individual creation.

By dressing up the individual and the space with Topological Softwear, Sha creates a continuity of body-clothing-covering-architecture, a continuity between the individual and the space. To clothe is to inhabit. The expressiveness of clothing, itself an “augmentation” of the individual, is amplified by an aural and visual externalization that results in an awareness of the body in space. By extension, the project nurtures an awareness of ourselves. To inhabit space is to define it, and to define ourselves as an integral part of this space.

Sylvie Parent © 2003 FDL