Posts Tagged 'technology'

Wearable technology in the information age

Madeleine King

Thursday 29th April, 10am-12pm

Presentation Room, Bon Marche (UTS Bldg. 3, Rm. 510)

Presentation, 20mins

As a new field of research and development, wearable technology has attracted limited critical attention. Positioned in a predominantly commercial context, wearable technology in the information age relies on a well established rhetoric which aligns technological progress with the advancement of civilization. However, viewed historically the relationship between technology, the body and progress is far more ambiguous. In the fields of both art and design throughout the twentieth century, avant gardes have alternately embraced or critiqued the intersection of technology and the body. This paper will draw on the historical discursive of fashion and art to discuss the cultural significance of wearable technology in the early years of the twenty-first century. Examined in the context of both the hype and fear that has historically informed technology’s relationship with the human body, my research considers both the positive and negative implications of wearable technology. This paper argues that contemporary wearable technology reinvigorates modernist utopian poetics. Whilst postmodernism does not support the proposition that technological progress equates to moral, social or cultural advancement, an investigation of 21st century wearable technology does provide evidence that utopian tropes have continued relevance in postmodern technoculture.

My treatment of utopia and the relationship between technology, the body, optimism and fear is foreshadowed by theories put forward by Paul Virilio, Jean Baudrillard and Frederic Jameson. Contemporary examples of wearable technology will be examined in light of the machine’s influence on modernist aesthetics and political agendas of 20th century art and fashion. This paper will also be framed by personal questions (as a practitioner) as to how artists’ and designers’ capacity to affect change in a utopian sense can sustain meaning in the context of our so-called postmodern condition.

Madeleine King is an interdisciplinary researcher and artist, currently completing her MA at Queensland University of Technology. Her practice-led research considers the contemporary intersection of the body and technology, drawing on the poetics of utopia in fashion design and art in the 20th and 21st centuries. She also manages Research and Program Development at MAAP – Multimedia Art Asia Pacific in Brisbane.