#techstyle at the MFA

By: Non Kuramoto

Fashion is constantly at the frontline of technological innovation. Fearless designers have always found ways to explore the potential of new technologies. #techstyle at the Museum of Fine Arts is an exhibit that showcases various examples of the crossroads between STEM and fashion.

At the entrance of the exhibit was Viktoria Modesta’s stylish prosthetic leg and a video of her dancing. Her powerful dance moves seemed to embody the power and potential of technology as we are invited into the world.

The exhibit was divided into three sections: “Performance,” designers known for their incorporation of technology, and “Production”.

The first section, “Performance”, showcased pieces that interacted with their environments. There was an Iris Van Herpen dress that looked like a splash of water molded out of plastic, a dress made of needles that moved to the music and a leather jacket that changed colors depending on environmental factors. The most exciting piece was a dress by Francesca Rosella and Ryan Genz embedded with 10,000 micro LEDs. There was an iPad next to it, with which the viewer can decide which pattern appears on the dress. It made me wonder about the infinite possibilities of pattern making that would become available once the technology becomes more sophisticated.

The next room featured designers that were well known for their exploration of high-tech materials. From Rei Kawakubo’s 2D dresses to Alexander McQueen’s "Plato’s Atlantis" and Hussein Chalayan’s "Remote Control Dress," the garments were displayed in tandem to videos of their presentations, which were also technology inspired. It was remarkable to see that many of these forward thinking designers have been incorporating technology into their designs before the public interest in high-tech fashion was there.

The third and biggest room was “Production,” which showcased various pieces using different kinds of materials and processes, particularly those made in collaboration between fashion designers and researchers. Because fashion design and scientific research are both subjects generally secluded from each other, I enjoyed seeing the beautiful works; the 3D-printed cape and skirt made by Iris Van Herpen and Neri Oxman of the MIT Media Lab resembled boulders covered in barnacles that looked like the love-children between scientists and artists.

Although the arts are often stuck lower on the priority compared to STEM fields, pieces like this are telling of how truly amazing things can happen when the two work together as equals.

**For a behind-the-scenes look at #techstyle at MFA, please check out our Q&A with curator of fashion art , Michelle Finamore, in the latest issue of The Avenue, The Innovation Issue

Source: Museum of Fine Arts