Wearable Art Physically Exposes You When You Share Data

June 10, 2014 | Sophie Weiner

“In the digital realm, we are naked all the time,” flashes the text in the promotional video for x.pose, a project by Xuedi Chen and Pedro Oliveira. The sculpture is composed of several layers, one of which is a reactive display that, using bluetooth, alternates between transparent and opaque depending on the amount of personal data the wearer is transmitting through their smartphone.

The 3D-printed garment comments on our willingness to expose ourselves through the information constantly emanating from our mobile devices.

Chen and Oliveira explain:

These displays are divided up into patches that represent neighborhoods and change in opacity depending on the wearer’s current location. If she is in the NYU neighborhood, that area will be the most active, pulsing, revealing her current location, revealing the fact that her data is being collected and at the same time exposing her skin. As her data emissions are collected, the more transparent and exposed she will become.

Much like Anouk Wipprecht’s Intimacy 2.0, Chen and Oliveira have created a piece that’s political, technologically impressive and aesthetically pleasing. It’s not hard to imagine an art world celebrity actually wearing this out: Despite our knowledge of rapidly decreasing privacy in the face of big data, we still revel in the attention our broadcast provides.

Chen has previously combined 3D-printing and fashion when she designed parasitic accessories. She is a student at NYU’s ITP grad program.  (Images: Xuedi Chen and Pedro Oliveira)