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 SoftLab is a space dedicated to the research and development of artistic projects using soft-circuits and wearable technology in the Center for Digital Arts & Experimental Media (DxArts) at the University of Washington, in Seattle.


Giulia Tomasello on Biotextiles and Constanza Piña on Wearable Electronics, Dance and Textile Computers

Giulia Tomasello on Biotextiles and Constanza Piña on Wearable Electronics, Dance and Textile Computers

Giulia Tomasello introducing her work to the DXARTS 490 students with this quote from Simone de Beauvoir: “That’s me. I am a woman. My body is a social construction rather than a naturally given datum”.

Giulia Tomasello introducing her work to the DXARTS 490 students with this quote from Simone de Beauvoir: “That’s me. I am a woman. My body is a social construction rather than a naturally given datum”.

On Wednesday, April 3rd 2019 we had the amazing opportunity to host at the DXARTS 490: E-textiles & Wearables for Art & Design, the Italian interaction designer Giulia Tomasello talking about her work in the field of biohacking, harvesting and women’ s health, as well as the Chilean artist and performer Constanza Piña, presenting her work with wearables and sound through a DIY electronics and traditional crafting perspective. Both artists visited the University of Washington in the context of the Design Trouble symposium which DXARTS assistant professor Afroditi Psarra co-organized together with Daniela Rosner (HCDE), Audrey Desjardins Design), Phillip Thurtle (CHID) and Sareeta Amrute (Anthropology), in an effort to engage in a critical dialogue with art and technology practices. The symposium featured the work of female and gender non-binary, African and Native-American artists, designers and scholars whose work engages with decolonization, indigenous traditions, gender politics, non-human agents, anthropology and ethics and was attended by a diverse group of both faculty and students from across artistic and scientific disciplines.

Giulia discusses her experience as a maker and the different fields she has been engaged with the past five years of her career.

Giulia discusses her experience as a maker and the different fields she has been engaged with the past five years of her career.

Giulia describing the process of growing kombucha leather in her apartment in London during her MFA at Saint Martins College.

Giulia describing the process of growing kombucha leather in her apartment in London during her MFA at Saint Martins College.

Giulia has been the recipient of STARTS PRIZE 2018, a prestigious art and science award for artistic exploration from Ars Electronica for her project Future Flora, an exploration into biohacking by creating a DIY kit to make a sanitary pad from bacteria of the wearer’s vagina to treat the candida infection.

STARTS Prize – Grand prize of the European Commission honoring Innovation in Technology, Industry and Society stimulated by the Arts Future Flora won the Grand Prize – Artistic Exploration: Awarded for artistic exploration and art works where appropriation by the arts has a strong potential to influence or alter the use, deployment or perception of technology. Future Flora was selected between 2344 projects from 88 different countries. https://starts-prize.aec.at/en/future-flora/ Credits Video: Future Flora (Video) https://vimeo.com/171795174 Film, editing and art direction, designer: João Gil Sound/Music: Anne Queffelec – Eric Satie, Gnossienne n4 Girl Biophilia (Documentary) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMYIOHzpu-E Creative direction and production: Maja Zupano Director of photography: Jan Vrhovnik Production design: Maja Zupano 1st AC: Kash Khan Production assistant: Max Celar Lighting: Jan Vrhovnik Styling: Martina Rocca SOUND Boom operator: Julia Hardecka Music composer: Joseph Daly Sound design: Julia Hardecka Location and talent scout: Maja Zupano POST PRODUCTION Film editing: Maja Zupano Color grading: Jan Vrhovnik CAST THE GIRLS Vanessa David Sharondeep Kaur Johal Kristina Lipinskaite Martina Rocca FUTURE FLORA Designer and creator: Giulia Tomasello SCIENTIST Science communicator, founder at The A Level Biologist: Arian Mirzarafie-Ah

She is currently working on her newest project, Alma, a wearable biosensor for monitoring vaginal discharge which she is developing with a team of scientists from Cambridge University.

Giulia describing the functionality of the  Alma  wearable biosensor.

Giulia describing the functionality of the Alma wearable biosensor.

Constanza on the other hand coming from a more craft-related background, she talked about her experimentation with handmade synthesizers and diy noise machines and her in dedication in collecting recycled materials and electronic components in order to create her work.

Constanza talking about her initiation in the field of diy electronics by showing her first sequencer.

Constanza talking about her initiation in the field of diy electronics by showing her first sequencer.

Her research into diy electronics and how to use the body as an interface for gestural and haptic control, led her to develop the wearable project Heroina, an interactive audiovisual dance performance which features an open hardware POV (Persistence of Vision) paper skirt, an audio mixer belt and some analog diy synths to produce sound.

Constanza showcasing the audio mixer belt of the  Heroina  wearable.

Constanza showcasing the audio mixer belt of the Heroina wearable.

Explaining the led connections to the Lilypad microcontroller in order to make the POV skirt.

Explaining the led connections to the Lilypad microcontroller in order to make the POV skirt.

Amazing interactive suit made by Constanza Piña member of Chimbalab Collective and part of the staff of stgo makerspace. http://stgomakerspace.com

Furthermore, Constanza talked about her current artistic project Khipu - a textile computer, inspired in Pre-hispanic technologies, specifically the Incan khipus and their relation with binary code, which she showcased more extensively during the Design Trouble symposium in her hands-on workshop Prehispanic computers and science fiction ecologies.

Constanza talking about her newest work  Khipu  and the use of a textile antenna to detect electromagnetic fields.

Constanza talking about her newest work Khipu and the use of a textile antenna to detect electromagnetic fields.

Embodied RF Ecologies by Afroditi Psarra

Embodied RF Ecologies by Afroditi Psarra

SoilSample(1) by Stevie Koepp

SoilSample(1) by Stevie Koepp