Emotinal Clothing by Iga Węglińska: Emotions are just information
"You are too sensitive!”
If I had saved one euro for all the times that someone addressed me with these words, I would no longer need an income in a lifetime.
In most cases, the statement unhappily came from self-unaware interlocutors (emotionally speaking) who rarely scanned the feelings flowing inside their bodies and who triggered me with a sense of shame, yet making the situation worse.
It ended up with a few euros, but with a severe anxiety syndrome, in return.
The data-based world we live in is warped by the belief that countable qualities or goods measure how much living beings are worth.
Q.I tests results, high-performance scores, money, grades, followers, likes to quantify how reliable we are.
Emotions debilitate people, for the most.
I then found out that the weakest are those who struggle to admit how they feel as they couldn’t see the result of their thoughts, in a ripple effect of “I'll believe it when I see it”.
Emotions are just information, for everyone, a talkative filter between the interior and exterior environment, and they can be registered, whether you believe it or not.
Polish fashion designer Iga Węglińska interpreted the topic by treating the body fence as a membrane with the outer environment. The concept is encapsulated into the tech-textile responsive wearables that give messages on mood swings.
“Emotional clothing consists of two polysensory silhouettes using the phenomenon of biofeedback, by signaling psycho-physiological changes taking place in the user's body”, states Iga Węglińska talking about her Ph.D. dissertation project “Human-object interaction Textiles-new technologies” defended at the Industrial Design Department Academy of Fine Arts (Krakow), in 2021.
The pioneeristic capsule sheds a light on the key role that perceiving and seeing emotion-triggered bodily changes may play in generating mindfulness in the field of non-verbal communication.
As was first done with synthesizers in the 1970s, where anagogic inputs from instruments started to be quantized/discretized, she involved smart materials to register the impulses of the user’s body, such as body temperature, galvanic skin response (GSR), heart rate or the feedback from proprioceptors (mechanosensory neurons located inside muscles, tendons, and joints), by lighting up the feeling of stress, discomfort or anxiety caused by the external stimuli.
The polysensory garments used in the collection thus intend to expand the experience of clothing using the “sensory substitution”, the non-invasive technique for circumventing the loss of one sense by feeding its information through another channel, as for vision-impaired with braille.
In 2014, Aalto University began conducting a study (still ongoing) on an initial sample of 700 people from different regions of the world, published in the American scientific journal PNAS. The survey invited the sample to react to external stimuli (films, images, stories) by locating on a body-shaped map the areas of the body that they felt turned on or off to help visualize, chart, and thus in effect externalize the discomfort and/or bodily changes.
"Numerous studies have established that emotional systems prepare us to meet challenges encountered in the environment by adjusting the activation of the cardiovascular, skeletomuscular, neuroendocrine, and autonomic nervous system”.(Bodily maps of emotions, Nummena, Glerean, Hari, Hietanen, PNAS archives)
As a matter of fact, we experience emotions directly in the body, daily.
Fear and anxiety are felt in the chest and in the stomach, anger ignites the hands, happiness activates the whole body, sadness and depression cut us off while being envious literally sets our face on fire.
This link between emotions and bodily states is even more striking in the way we speak of emotions: disappointed lovers may be “heartbroken,” and our favorite song may send “a shiver down our spine.”
Somatisation of emotion is a sophisticated protection of the body rooted in our instinct basis. An inner reaction that, although sometimes disabling, has almost no outward restitution, no channels for bodily displaying.
The pioneeristic capsule lies its roots in the theory of extended mind by Andy Clark and David Chalmers, which assumes objects within the environment function as a part of the mind and shows how the use of smart materials in clothing can play a key role in the development of the user's "sense of taking part”.
Aware of the risks that hide behind the dangers of biometric data misuse, the designer is confident about the outputs that the collection generated.
First of all, she intended to graphitize the importance of self-awareness of emotion as an existing (!) physical response to the outer stimuli, making people able to focus more on their bodies.
Secondly, she represented a contemporary bridge with new technological fabrics and how they can be involved in everyday life or industries, like the medical sector or the sport one.
Let’s keep an eye on it.
Info and Credits
photo: Mila Łapko @milalapko_
design: Iga Węglińska @igaweglinska
model: Martyna P. (MANGO models), Emilia D. (gaga models)
mua: Paula Ewa Krawczyk