New Realms of Expression : An interview with Costume Designer Annie Temmink

New Realms of Expression : An interview with Costume Designer Annie Temmink

A Charlottesville-based sculptor and costume designer, Annie Temmink recently showcased her work in the traveling World of Wearable Art exhibition. From stints building houses, working in woodshops, fabric dye studios, and alongside celebrity designers in Los Angeles, Annie now works independently.  Drawing on a range of fabrication techniques she invents outlandish costumes from everyday objects that celebrate individuality, improvisation, and whimsy. Find her on Instagram @artemmink

Her passion for simple and sustainable materials, high tech fabrication processes, and kinetic movement has inspired a desire to expand the creative potential for expression in the performing arts by collaborating with creative technologists.  Read on to learn more...

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Wisp from Wan Tseng: Erotic Wearable Technology

Wisp from Wan Tseng: Erotic Wearable Technology

Wisp is a breakthrough in wearable technology, the erotic industry, and women's sex lives! Using passive stimulus like smell and vibration, Wisp can be activated remotely with an app to trigger arousal for the user. The final product will look more like jewelry than technology, and hopes to increase healthy sexual intimacy between partners. Wan Tseng has been showing her work all over the world, representing design for women by women in a predominantly male industry. Yyou can learn more about this innovative creative technologist on her website at http://wantseng.com/Wisp

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What You Should Know to Start Working with Virtual Reality: NovaKitten Interview Part 3

What You Should Know to Start Working with Virtual Reality: NovaKitten Interview Part 3

The Virtual Reality industry is rapidly changing every few months, but beginners should not be afraid! There is so much potential and room in this market to grow and innovate! Elaina Woods of NovaKitten tells Clever Tech Digest some basic tools and things beginners should know.

NovaKitten Productions is an Austin based Virtual Reality and Film production company. Born out of a group of UT Austin Students, NovaKitten works on commercial and gaming VR projects, in addition to an array of other Film Projects. This small start up focuses on developing a fun learning-centric storytelling community and is pioneering immersive mediums and collaborative cross disciplinary projects.

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VR's Social Impact: NovaKitten Interview Part 2

VR's Social Impact: NovaKitten Interview Part 2

Creative Technologists must carry the heavy burden of how new user experiences and consumer technologies will shape future generations. Clever Tech Digest talks to Elaina Woods of NovaKitten about the potential social influence Virtual Reality can have in our lives.

 NovaKitten Productions is an Austin based Virtual Reality and Film production company. Born out of a group of UT Austin Students, NovaKitten works on commercial and gaming VR projects, in addition to an array of other Film Projects. This small start up focuses on developing a fun learning-centric storytelling community and is pioneering immersive mediums and collaborative cross disciplinary projects.

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VR, Storytelling and Audience Autonomy: NovaKitten Interview Part 1

VR, Storytelling and Audience Autonomy: NovaKitten Interview Part 1

Meet Elaina Woods of NovaKitten Productions, an Austin based Virtual Reality and Film production company. Born out of a group of UT Austin Students, NovaKitten works on commercial and gaming VR projects, and focuses on developing a fun learning-centric storytelling community. This small company focuses on collaborative storytelling, and is pioneering immersive mediums for narrative.

Clever Tech Digest sat down with Elaina to explain how she got exposed to VR and more about this developing industry.

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High-Tech Throwbacks: Mobile Vinyl Recorders UpCycles CDs to Play like Vinyl Records

Electronic waste overflows in landfills all over the world, and many of the materials associated with this type of waste will take centuries to break down, if ever. Some components of computers are even toxic. Recycling has made an impact on global waste management, but society must think more resourcefully about items that cannot decompose and cannot be recycled. Upcycling and repurposing of electronic hardware represent an opportunity for both creative and industrial projects. 

A great example of cleverly upcycling e-waste is the small, hip, record-cutting company Mobile Vinyl Recorders. MVR was lathe-cutting upcycled CDs with new tracks, live this year inside the Toyota Tent at AfroPunk Brooklyn 2016. This differs from burning CDs with tracks both in the physical process and in the outcome. These CDs can be played on a record player. Hipsters and tech enthusiasts alike watched as Mike Dixon of Mobile Vinyl Recorders gave new life to old objects, driven by a passion for music and a medium. Some of Mike Dixon’s other projects involve cutting records on materials like chocolate. 

IMG_8374 (2).JPG

Mike and partner Kris Dorr looked like mad scientists, dressed in lab coats, while carefully monitoring the vintage Presto 6N lathes cuttting CDs to play like vinyl. I got the chance to talk to Mike about Mobile Vinyl Recorders, a project that combines performance art with education and upcycling.

1) Why do you think it is important to promote vinyl records, or any analog music playing medium, when we have limitless access to digital music at our fingertips? 

I think that having a tangible, physical way of interacting with music is important.  Making a conscious choice to spend money on a single piece of art or music gives it an extrinsic value that streaming cannot provide. 

2) What inspired you to start experimenting with cutting records on nontraditional materials? Do you have a favorite of your experiments?

 I’ve always loved upcycled art. Making beautiful and unique art pieces out of things that would be discarded or from objects that are unrelated to what they eventually become. Every experiment is new and exciting to me. I love making things that have never been made, or putting a new twist on things that have. I want to make objects that confuse and bewilder people.  Things that they want to show off to their friends. I want to promote artists that I really love and believe in at the same time.

         ---->Also, what happened when you played the cacao record? 

We played it once (sounded pretty good), and then ate it (tasted even better). 

3) You have divided your vinyl projects up, each into individual companies. Why expand into five companies instead of one with multiple departments? 


Each of the companies has a different ethos and target market. And, in some cases, different people involved.  Lathecuts.com was a for-hire short run record manufacturer for small bands, and has now become an aggregator for my former employees who now work in my studio as a co-op and run their own businesses doing the same thing, independently. MobileVinylRecorders.com cuts records live at festivals and events (we’ve done Coachella, SXSW, Mardi Gras, Pfork Chicago and Paris, Afropunk, Sundance Film Festival, etc) for corporate clients, ScienceofSound.org goes to libraries and schools to present about the science and history of recorded sound, and PIAPTK/Soild Gold are record labels specializing in weird and unique formats and packaging. They all have their own personalities, and I like for them to be understood on their own terms, not necessarily as a piece of a whole.

3) One of your companies, Mobile Vinyl Recorders, brings what could be called a reinvented vintage experience to the public. Why do you think this resonates with bystanders? What has been your favorite venue to take Mobile Vinyl Recorders and why?

Vinyl records have been around for 130 years, but most people don’t actually understand how they work or how they are made. Maker culture is on a huge upswing, and we help to take a little bit of the mystery out of it, while simultaneously drawing attention to the incredible science behind it. All of our gigs have been incredible, but our month long residency on the canal in Paris is probably my favorite.

5) I know MVR takes upcycled CDs and cuts a new song onto them, but they can still be played in a CD player as well as on a record player. Can you explain a little more about how the lathes work/the technical process?  

The cutter head (which holds the cutting needle) acts like a tiny speaker. But, instead of having a paper cone that pushes the sound waves through the air, it focuses the waves to the tip of the tiny needle (made with a sharpened ruby).  As the ruby vibrates, it scratches the grooves into the disc, which is turning underneath it.  The groove is actually the physical representation of the sound wave. 

6) Do you have any advice to give young tinkerers, innovators, and entrepreneurs about entering a market that is already filled with massive and long-standing corporations? How have you found your niche?

My advice is to not try to move into the pressing side of records. Pressing records is a huge industrial process that takes hundreds of thousands of dollars to enter.  I would never even dream of it. What I do is on the experimental lathe cut side.  I make records one at a time, rather than by the hundreds. The investment is much smaller, the learning curve (while steep) is more manageable, and the market is easier to reach. If you want to make records, buy a record lathe (if you can find one) and start out slow. It has to be an obsession, not a casual hobby. It’s a horrible business model, extremely expensive and time consuming, and there is no real way to make much money at it. I’ve been doing it for almost a decade, am one of the most well-known in my tiny field, have 20 machines, and yet I still make about the same yearly income as I would slinging fast food.  And I work twice as many hours. But, it’s what I love. It’s a passion and it has led to me working with artists and bands that I wouldn’t have dreamed of when I started.  

I found my niche by being creative, working hard, and being there before the beginning. The Vinyl Revival was still a couple years away when I started, and I happened to be one of the few people doing what I did when it started to come around. 

Thank you Mike for sharing so much with me today!

This is one of Mike’s many vinyl projects that bring art, music, and science together. To learn more about his other pursuits and experiments with strange materials and record players please check out his website http://www.michaeldixonvinylart.com/ .  

To paint the picture, please view this original montage of Afropunk Brooklyn 2016.

Reframing the Design Brief: A Discussion on the Future of Wearable Technology with Cindy Blais of Funktional Wearables

Cindy Blais

          A woman of many talents, Cindy Blias has brought fashionable fitness tracker accessories to the mainstream market. In 2014, she launched Funktional Wearables, a growing line of affordable on-trend jewelry pieces that conceal fitness trackers.

Popular product at www.funktionalwearables.com On competing in the affordable price category, Blais exxplained, “I always just wanted to make jewelry that I would wear, at prices that I think are fair. With how quickly technology changes, people should be reluctant to spend designer dollars on jewelry that might be obsolete in a year.”   

Popular product at www.funktionalwearables.com

On competing in the affordable price category, Blais exxplained,

“I always just wanted to make jewelry that I would wear, at prices that I think are fair. With how quickly technology changes, people should be reluctant to spend designer dollars on jewelry that might be obsolete in a year.” 

 

I asked Blais for her advice about online retail platforms to young designers and entrepreneurs about online retail platforms trying to break into the wearable tech world. She responded,   ”Every channel has its wonderful quirks and individual personalities. Amazon drives the most sales but also takes the most from those sales, for instance. Some advice - don’t get discouraged. There are seemingly never-ending obstacles, but it’s incredibly rewarding and fulfilling work.”

I asked Blais for her advice about online retail platforms to young designers and entrepreneurs about online retail platforms trying to break into the wearable tech world. She responded,

 

”Every channel has its wonderful quirks and individual personalities. Amazon drives the most sales but also takes the most from those sales, for instance. Some advice - don’t get discouraged. There are seemingly never-ending obstacles, but it’s incredibly rewarding and fulfilling work.”

  With a background instructing Zumba and selling related retail at her own boutique, Cindy is definitely a fitness enthusiast. When she noticed all of the fitness trackers appearing in the gym she taught at, she became curious about the technology. She explained, “Functional Wearables began a few months after getting my own Fitbit and realizing that I didn’t like the way that it worked when I dressed up.” She loved that the Fitbit complemented her passion for fitness, but felt disappointed that the tracker did not look great with many of her favorite outfits. Taking matters into her own hands, she began creating jewelry that concealed her tracker and fit her personal style. A few jewelry pieces on Etsy grew to a full-blown production and retail company, Funktional Wearables. Demand for attractive ways to wear fitness trackers became high.

Wide variety of styles available at www.funktionalwearables.com

Wide variety of styles available at www.funktionalwearables.com

In order for users to get the most functionality out of wearable technology, they need to wear them regularly. Cindy explains, “Fitness trackers provide accountability, awareness, social support, and keep fitness top of mind for their users. Competition with others, or even personally, also can serve as a very powerful motivator.” To that end, personal electronics must become emotionally and ergonomically designed with empathy for a person’s lifestyle. If people do not want to wear fitness tracker on nights and weekends, they may miss out on some of the major benefits from the tool. In this way Funktional Wearables helps users wear their fitness trackers more consistently. Herein lies the genius of Cindy’s Funktional Wearables. Cindy and her interchangeable accessories showcase that the marriage between tech, fitness and fashion is a happy one.  

On customers and the community of people around wearable technology, she added,   “I love my customers - they tend to be incredibly supportive and loyal. Especially from Etsy! We’ve been so busy making product that we haven’t gotten too involved with the wearable tech community at large, but we plan to in the future.”

On customers and the community of people around wearable technology, she added,

 

“I love my customers - they tend to be incredibly supportive and loyal. Especially from Etsy! We’ve been so busy making product that we haven’t gotten too involved with the wearable tech community at large, but we plan to in the future.”

High Tech Apparel vs. Wearable Technology

Consider the words “wearable technology” to mean “technology one can wear,” a phrase which evokes mental images of gadgets and circuits which focus on the technology a user can somehow strap on, not the role of the product in a user’s life. Designing wearable technology defines what a device is capable of, not the sensitive real-estate on the human body that it occupies.

The contrasting phrase “high-tech apparel” emphasizes the fashion element of the product. Apparel and accessories represent an expression of a user’s identity and personal taste. Designing high-tech apparel focuses on integrating technology into clothing and accessories a user would want to wear anyway. Many people change outfits and accessories daily, which means that high-tech apparel must be engineered and designed to change its appearance frequently. This design constraint lends itself towards modular and mutable designs. Interchanging skins and encasements for the primary technology driving a device is an ideal solution for the personal and dynamic nature of High-Tech Apparel.

Funktionable Wearables apparel allows users to dress up their technology differently every day if they choose, a major benefit of the interchangeable nature of Funktional Wearables’ jewelry designs. Cindy elaborated, “I wanted to have an interchangeable line because we have found that our customers are often upgrading to new models of trackers as they come out, and we wanted to give them the flexibility without having to buy new jewelry every time.” Many shoppers update their wardrobes with new fashions and styles seasonally but may purchase new electronics once every few years. Interchangeable accessories allow users to remain contemporary stylistically, without a device upgrade. 

For now there are still many design limitations to integrating technology into our fashion and home goods. Reasonably, the computing and engineering constraints hold some fashion labels back from producing wearable tech. Imagine shoppers buying a heart rate monitor in an Anthropology or Fossil store mostly because they want in their wardrobe. The future of fashion will host a variety of high-tech apparel and accessories for it inside of retail stores. Products will compete based on both aesthetics and computing features. It is only a matte of time and creativity before the major obstacles to this reality are overcome.

According to Cindy, “The biggest design limitations are around size - people want sleek and light, but we are beholden to the underlying size of the tracker itself.” In an economy and industry evolving at an exponentially accelerating rate, these limitations may evaporate into the ether within the next two years.

 

According to Blais, “almost all of our products are still finished by hand in person, in San Diego. I advise young entrepreneurs to start by hand as I did, and cautiously enter into the mass manufacturing world only when you’re ready and understand your market and your product at a very deep level.” 

According to Blais, “almost all of our products are still finished by hand in person, in San Diego. I advise young entrepreneurs to start by hand as I did, and cautiously enter into the mass manufacturing world only when you’re ready and understand your market and your product at a very deep level.” 

Coded Couture

     The blending of handmade and digital technologies is taking new and exciting turns through the world of 3D modeling and rapid prototyping processes. Avant- garde fashion designers like Iris Van Herpen Hussein Chayalan, and Anouk Wipprecht have blended high math algorithms with 3D printing and computing in combination with hand-crafted techniques to create outlandish poetic artifacts for the runway.  Funktional Wearables makes a more accessible product with digital fabrication methods. According to Cindy,” Every piece of jewelry and the underlying tracking technology exists as a 3D model first. These are then paired with existing models of the trackers and various arm sizes to optimize fit, look and comfort.” Without such technologies the line may not have been able to expand so vastly so quickly, but rapid prototyping and design has changed the playing field for entrepreneurs and fashionistas alike.

Blais predicts a “convergence of technology and fashion.”  The product and job market are both going to have to change. She believes, “fashion designers are going to have to think more and more like engineers, as the industries merge into one. And in the same right, wearables technology manufacturers are going to put increasing focus on the fashion of their devices, to make devices more appealing for every day use.”

She asserts, “a lot of wearable tech manufacturers still think of fashion as an afterthought, but it needs to be embedded into the design process to broaden its appeal to a larger customer base.” If this designer is right, this is good and bad news for creatives. In this fast-paced and outsourced economy, design professionals are often challenged to be a jack of all trades. Asking them to be engineers, too, may mean more education and time to become qualified to work in the future fashion and tech space. On the other hand, more emphasis on design in personal computing and electronics means more jobs for creatives with fashion and product design backgrounds.

 

Hearing Aids: Reframing the Design Brief

I aspired to reframe the image of hearing aids from a medical tool to a fashion statement. To achieve this I designed a line of interchangeable decorative ear cuff accessories, 3D modeled for a perfect fit snap on attachment for Embrace Hearing hearing aids.

I aspired to reframe the image of hearing aids from a medical tool to a fashion statement. To achieve this I designed a line of interchangeable decorative ear cuff accessories, 3D modeled for a perfect fit snap on attachment for Embrace Hearing hearing aids.

  If I could do one thing for the millions of Americans wearing hearing aids, or any medical device, is to provide more desirable & personal options for the tools they have to carry with them every day. Much like corrective eyewear, I want to turn hearing aids into a vessel for self expression will change its stigma from a mark of impairment to a platform for fashion.

 

If I could do one thing for the millions of Americans wearing hearing aids, or any medical device, is to provide more desirable & personal options for the tools they have to carry with them every day. Much like corrective eyewear, I want to turn hearing aids into a vessel for self expression will change its stigma from a mark of impairment to a platform for fashion.

Hearing impaired adults need the ability to personalize and decorate their hearing aids . In the same way that cell phone cases are both decorative and protective, my hearing aid accessories can do more than look beautiful, they can also provide protection and support to the device, keeping the hearing aid securely in place. Users can snap their hearing aid into the ear cuff, concealing the medical device and showing off their style. To wear a different style later, they can pop the hearing aid out, and snap it into a new accessory. Using materials like silver, brass, bronze, gold, and gemstones bring attention to the accessories beauty, not their function.

Hearing impaired adults need the ability to personalize and decorate their hearing aids . In the same way that cell phone cases are both decorative and protective, my hearing aid accessories can do more than look beautiful, they can also provide protection and support to the device, keeping the hearing aid securely in place. Users can snap their hearing aid into the ear cuff, concealing the medical device and showing off their style. To wear a different style later, they can pop the hearing aid out, and snap it into a new accessory. Using materials like silver, brass, bronze, gold, and gemstones bring attention to the accessories beauty, not their function.