Zebra Philosophy

Philosophy? Or should this be called “Zebra Critical Theory”? :-)

Very impressive words…

During all experimental knitting and 3D printing and trying to explain harvesting IC’s some thoughts popped up which are so easily forgotten. Still it was part of the Zebra project and the presentation of it.

Thinking about consequences of “energy harvesting”…this means not having energy all the time around…not putting a battery inside your garment so not having all expressive potential (or kitsch) available at your command, you can only have an effect if the garment has the energy. Does this make the power relation between the garment and its creator more in equilibrium?

We are all too familiar with discontinuity (if you could call it like this) – and still we don’t appreciate it in our design. The familiarity makes us blind for the fact that we and nature are not continous but do everything in alternations. There is nothing else, never any stability.  Still we think in continous, stable  objects and events.

Nature shows itself to us in phases. Because the Earth rotates a bit complex around the sun, you get summer once in a while and in the summer…e-textile summercamp. Where is e-textile summercamp in winter? We try to do this website, but after a few weeks of blogging around, we go on to the next thing, till next end of spring, wehre suddenly there is an e-extile summercamp again. Human beings don’t eat all the time, they sleep also, but again – not all the time. Plants, flowers, insects – you accept different stades and phases, but not for our e-textile design. It has to be always “on” and expressive and “smart”. For instance for the Cuvée presentation all designs had to be put “on”.

But energy harvesting shows another side (or the only side) of reality around us. This is not always “on” at our command. Energy harvesting, quite a technical subject has consequences for my “critical design” view on inserting energy in e-textiles.

Using heavy batteries? Sometimes not even that is enough, so use the 220V of the mains with a thick cable (you hide a bit around the table)? At the same time that you are stitching very fine cloth with barely visible needles? Isn’t that a paradox?

Look at the zebra fabrics, this is showing alternation: one stripe of non conductive, then a strip of conductive thread. It is stretchy, a very fine knitting. Knitting itself also has this idea of inserting rows of knots into each other. Quilting, curvi linear lederhosen embroidery…we do all these things, but energy has to be available at all time.

I could stay very serious here. I should stay serious – isn’t this critical thinking? Am i not criticizing our all too continous thinking and designing in an alternating world? Isn’t this continous thinking the cause for domination, making my view “the view” and trying to prevent (or worse) other thoughts – in short all the bad things in this world? Greenberg would directly postulate that this is “the end of culture” – isn’t that sounding serious? But then again, staying serious for too long is also showing power and dominating. All too easily you start becoming nasty, make bombs etc. Interestingly discontinous being (there is nothing else – let me make that seriously but paradoxically clear) calls for alternation of seriousness and sillyness. Humans shouldn’t have much difficulty with that or is it the most difficult of all?

So after this brief attack on this very discontinous view comes the sillyness of democracy for e-textiles. That these intelligent garments are given more autonomy and a right to decide for themselves. Liberation of smart textiles. This has nice consequences for the designer!

With liberty comes responsibility. If the garments have this rights to choose for themselves, they should also behave more responsible. So first of all go and search your own energy. Then – all this debugging and restitching the designer has to do – the garment should understand that with autonomy there is need to take care of yourself. Do your own stitching and debugging of code.

Ok, this was a bit of stitching together of zebra fabric, harvesting and reality and silly thoughts-things. Zebra fabric has become a textile tactile symbol…

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