Lighting up your wardrobe


Kath Weider-Roos is the Creative Arts Producer at A&D. She snaps photos and asks questions.

One of my favorite videos on PLAY gallery has always been Heidi Kumao's sound-activated dress from her series called Wearables:


This year Heidi decided to give A&D students a crack at this same art form, offering an entry level course into the relatively complicated art of creating technologically enhanced clothing but this time using a rather simple DIY tool called the Lilypad Arduino, a microcontroller specifically designed for textiles.

Turns out none of this was simple. In early February, Heidi had a sledding accident and broke her back! Luckily Michael Rodemer, another arduino-keen artist/faculty member kindly took over the class. 

Michael sent me some of the results of the students efforts and, though it sounds like it was a challenging class, clearly the worlds of computer programming and fashion are destined to meet.

My favorite was Elaine Czech's piece, that transformed an archaic fashion accessory – the veil –  into a modern, motorized flirtation device or alternatively, a privacy shield, depending on your mood.


And, student Riccardo Volpato (from Milan!) created these gloves so that you can now nervously drum your fingers on the tabletop and make music at the same time.  Richard used the Lilypad microcontroller to read force-sensing resistor signals, then play musical notes.


Melodie Hoke imagined an outwardly plain dress shirt with a secret inner life: when you dance, hidden LEDs in the shirtfront light up! From office worker to disco queen in one quick movement!


In the meantime, while her students were busy learning programming and how to sew with electronic wire, Heidi Kumao turned Frida Kahlo on us and figured out a way to make art despite her pain. Using her back brace as a writable surface and still slightly hazy from the vicodin, Heidi started working on a photo series as a response to her new unwelcomed condition as an invalid.

Here are some of my favorites from what is destined to become a bestselling calendar called "Embracing the Brace." Who knew that a sledding accident would produce a whole new line of wearables? Get well soon Heidi!