Reawakening Invisible Structures of Sustainability
Allen thomas litton navasero MA Fashion Futures DECEMBER 2016
â€˜By failing to understand the drivers underpinning human consumption and waste of goods, sustainable design resigns itself to peripheral activity rather than the central pioneer of positive social change that it could potentially be.â€™ -JOHNATHAN CHAPMAN 1
J. Chapman as quoted by: Fletcher, K. and Grose, L. (2012) Fashion & Sustainability: Design for Change. London, England: Laurence King Publishing. P.180
I---------------Abstract II--------------------Project rationale III-----------------Cultural research tcartsbA---------------I IV-------------design methodology elanoitar tcejorP ------------------II V---------------------------film hcraeseR larutluC-------------------III VI------------------------------THE LOOK ygolodohtem ngised--------------VI VII------------------------critique mlif---------------------------V VIII-----------------conclusion kooL ehT------------------------------IV euqitirC---------------------------IIV noisulcnoc---------------IIIV
This practised-based fashion research project combines the disciplines of urban design, art, cognition, and sociology. Sparked by Guy Debord’s seminal text, The Society of the Spectacle, and developed against the context of evidence which suggests that a key part of our ‘Spectacular Society’, the Fashion Industry, is the second most polluting after that of Oil and Gas2 , this work seeks to explore new fashion starting points and involvements. Fashion designers have been inspired by animistic cultures for years, but have yet to embrace animistic culture’s knowledge for sustainability. Methodologically drawing upon grounded theory for its approach to negate ‘Spectacular Society’, this project attempts to harness the power of metaphor, and design a fashion experience that exposes the cult relationship between textiles and Nature shared by animistic cultures, focused on those of Indonesia. Sections II and III illustrate key literary and field research inputs and definine the project’s approach. Sections IV to VI present the practise outputs, whilst chapters VII and VIII present reflection and evaluation. This project has been supervised by Professor Kate Fletcher, and MA Fashion Futures Course Leader Alex McIntosh.
I 2 Ditty, S. (2015) Europe in the world: The garment, textiles & fashion industry | European year for development. Available at: https://europa.eu/eyd2015/en/fashion-revolution/posts/europe-world-garment-textiles-and-fashion-industry (Accessed: 19 January 2016)
Raised along the California coast, in the jungle of Bali, and amongst the Philippine islands, Nature is very important to me and is key to everyday life. From the age of thirteen, marked by Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, I have observed and contemplated humankind’s detachment and devastating consumption of Nature. 9,818,667.41 hectares (and counting) of forest have been cut down or burned this year; tropical deforestation is the second biggest contributor to climate change3 . Living in Singapore, I remember driving through endless road in neighbouring Malaysia lined by hectares of palm tree farms following such deforestation. Completing an internship at The Green School in Bali and being an MA Fashion Futures student supervised by Professor Kate Fletcher however, have all but diminished my positivity in the plight of mankind’s industrial, cannibalistic consumption of Nature. These compelling experiences have led me to grow as a designer as facilitator4 to discover a way to help others understand and practise daily, the imperative centrality of Nature to our existence. Bringing together my creative and intellectual strengths and interests, this project is my latest culmination of that.
3 Deforestation facts and statistics (no date) Available at: http://www.theworldcounts.com/stories/deforestation-facts-and-statistics (Accessed: 4 October 2016). 4 Fletcher, K. and Grose, L. (2012) Fashion & Sustainability: Design for Change. London, England: Laurence King Publishing.
METHODOLOGY This project has been developed through grounded theory. ‘Grounded theory involves the progressive identification and integration of catgeories of meaning from data. It is both the process of category identification and integration (as method) and its product (as theory)’5 . Founded on Guy Debord’s apologetic text, The Society of the Spectacle, I have identified three main categories, and two sub categories that all operate in the field of Fashion Futures. These categories will form this project’s theoretical framework.
THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK I The Foundation First published in Paris in 1967, Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle that founded the Situationist Art movement (whose headquarters is said to be in London6) has been a key text in continental theory and urban design. Composed of 221 theses, Debord’s fundamental thesis is that individiduals of spectacular societies around the world, mediated by a trance of images, no longer think as individuals, but operate as slaves to spectacular society and its economy. In other words, the spectacle is the complex social mechanism through which mass consumerism operates. The Situationist Art movement is a means by which local artists disrupt their own spectacularised urban fabric by adding their own artistry to the city map, metaphorically asserting their own positive control over their own existence, thus negating the spectacle. 5 Grounded theory methodology learning objectives (2013) Available at: http://www. mheducation.co.uk/openup/chapters/9780335244492.pdf (Accessed: 4 July 2016). 6 Debord, G. and Imrie, M. (1990) Comments on the society of the spectacle. London: Verso Books.
Introduced to the text by Cornell Professor Gregory Smith during an urban design workshop in Rome in 2014, Debord’s theory of the spectacle has grown all the more convincing and tangible. Affirmed by French Professor Ti Alkire7, throughout the twenty-first century the spectacle has only grown two-fold . I have found Debord’s theory to be key in conducting a potential paradigm shift8 through design in fashion for ecocentric innovation. Translated from the French, for a feel of the text’s tone, Debord’s preface of the text’s third edition is as follows: ‘This book should be read bearing in mind that it was written with the deliberate intention of doing harm to spectacular society. There was never anything outrageous, however, about what it had to say’9 . From Debord’s direct tone the reader can gather the sense of urgency that he wishes to impress upon the reader to act against the spectacle. The key theses describing the spectacle form the foundation of my theoretical framework and are found in Debord’s opening chapter entitled ‘Separation Perfected’. Debord’s theory presents an appealing alternative lens through which to analyse mankind’s consumerism and perceived separation from Nature.
7 Alkire, T. (2015) ‘In conversation with Professor Ti Alkire’. Interview with . 8 Meadows, D. As quoted by Fletcher, K. (2014) Sustainable fashion and textiles: Design journeys. 2nd edn. London: Earthscan from Routledge. 9 Debord, G. (1994) The society of the spectacle. New York: Zone Books. Preface.
spectacle functions on mediums of communication. This is Category One. 1 The whole life of those societies in which modern conditions of production prevail presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. All that once was directly lived has become mere representation.
Category One, Mediums of Communication, contains two sub-categories: The five senses (ophthalmoception, audioception, gustaoception, olfacoception), and the seventh sense or consciousness. ‘The seventh consciousness relates to the unseen or abstract world, and enables us to make moral and value judgements.’11
2 Images detached from every aspect of life merge into a common stream, and the former unity of life is lost forever. Apprehended in a partial way, reality unfolds in a new generality as a pseudoworld apart, solely as an object of contemplation. The tendency toward the specialization of images of the world deceives itself. The spectacle in its generality is a concrete inversion of life, and, as such, the autonomous movement of nonlife. 3 The spectacle appears at once as society itself, as a part of society and as a means of unification. As a part of society, it is that sector where all attention, all consciousness, converges. Being isolated and precisely for that reason this sector is the locus of illusion and false consciousness; the unity it imposes is merely the official language of generalized separation. 4 The spectacle is not a collection of images; rather, it is a social relationship between people that is mediated by images.10
II Categories (see fig. 1) Debord’s first four theses highlight the basis of what the spectacle is and how it functions. Fundamentally being a ‘social relationship between people that is mediated by images’, the 10
Debord, G. (1994) The society of the spectacle. New York: Zone Books. P. 5
Theoretical Framework categories fig.1 Category One and its sub-categories can then be directed towards Category Two, For the Spectacle, or Category Three, Against the Spectacle. This project analyses how mediums of communication can be directed for or against the spectacle weighed by Debord’s following theses: 11 UK.P.34
SGI UK (2014) An Introduction to Nichiren Buddhism. Berkshire, UK: SGI
5 The spectacle cannot be understood either as a deliberate distortion of the visual world or as a product of the technology of the mass dissemination of images. It is far better viewed as a weltanschauung that has been actualised, translated into the material realm, a world view transformed into an objective force. 12 The spectacle manifests itself as an enormous positivity, out of reach and beyond dispute. All it says is: “Everything that appears is good; whatever is good will appear.” The attitude that it demands in principle is the same passive acceptance that it has already secured by means of its seeming incontrovertibility, and indeed by its monopolization of the realm of appearances. 26 The generalized separation of worker and product has spelled the end of any comprehensive view of the job done, as well as the end of direct personal communication between producers. As the accumulation of alienated products proceeds, and as the productive process gets more concentrated, consistency and communication become the exclusive assets of the system’s managers. The triumph of an economic system founded on separation leads to the proletarianization of the world. 23 At the root of the spectacle lies that oldest of all social divisions of labor, the specialization of power. The specialized role played by the spectacle is that of spokesman for all other activities, a sort of diplomatic representative of hierarchical society at its own court, and the source of the only discourse which
society allows itself to hear. Thus the most modern aspect of the spectacle is also at bottom the most archaic.12 The following statements of this project theorise, according to understandings of animistic cultures (to be presented in Section III), how to direct mediums of communication against the spectacle, specific to each of the select theses prior: Mediums of communication can be directed against the spectacle by… -Changing the world view that economic consumption and production is central to being, and that instead Nature is central to being. Thesis 5. -Communicating an understanding that positive and negative forces are equal and necessary, and further that ignoring negative forces is illusionment by spectacle. Thesis 12. -Cancelling the perceived specialisation of power and its debilitating hierarchy by communicating that Nature is at the center of the universe and within us, and as such, no pyramidical hierarchy of power exists. Thesis 23. It is through this theoretical framework methodologically produced by grounded theory that this project’s theoretical aim has been developed.
Debord, G. (1994) The society of the spectacle. New York: Zone Books. Pgs. 6-9.
DEFINING THE PROJECT AIM To design a fashion experience I II
that exposes the III
cult relationship between textiles and Nature shared by animistic cultures of Indonesia. IV I Design To design is to ‘do or plan (something) with a specific purpose in mind’13 . ‘Designers influence and shape our material world’14. ‘Designers alone can’t bring about a steady state economy, but we can begin to use the economy for sustainable ends, rather than letting the economy use us for economic growth’15. ‘The range of skills required of working designers- such as being comfortable with the unknown, synthesizing complex information, working across interdisciplinary boundaries and making intuitive leaps in thinking-are similar in scope and nature to many of the challenges thrown up by sustainability’16.
‘Fashion designers will move from working in the supply chain to working at the ‘hub’ of change, using their skills differently-envisioning change, organizing it and enabling something different to happen. Designers will work as facilitators’.17
II Fashion experience ‘According to the Oxford English Dictionary, one definition of fashion is that activity that forms, moulds or shapes either material or immaterial object. Yet this doesn’t explain all that fashion is. Fashion brings together creative authorship, technological production and cultural dissemination associated with dress, drawing together designers, producers, retailers and all of us who wear garments. At its creative best, fashion helps us to reflect who we are as individuals, while connecting us to wider social groups, providing a sense both of individuality and of belonging. Fashion is a connector, linking people across demographics, socio-economic groups and nationalities; and an attractor, drawing people into a movement for change. Yet fashion also has a complex relationship with larger systems; with economics, ecology and society.’ 18 Fashion furthermore has been chosen as the medium of communication for this project’s practice as fashion is one of few mediums that is able to engage all senses for a complete experience; covering the entirety of Category One (see ‘Theoretical Framework’ above), even that of the seventh consciousness, as animistic relationships between textiles and Nature show (see Section III).
13 Oxford (2016) ‘Design’, in Oxford Dictionary. Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/design (Accessed: 5 October 2016).
14 Fletcher, K. and Grose, L. (2012) Fashion & Sustainability: Design for Change. London, England: Laurence King Publishing. P. 155 15 Thorpe, A. As quoted by Fletcher, K. (2014) Sustainable fashion and textiles: Design journeys. 2nd edn. London: Earthscan from Routledge.P. 154 16 Fletcher, K. and Grose, L. (2012) Fashion & Sustainability: Design for Change. London, England: Laurence King Publishing.P. 162
17 ibid 18 Fletcher, K. and Grose, L. (2012) Fashion & Sustainability: Design for Change. London, England: Laurence King Publishing.Preface.
As we transition into the ‘experience economy’19, so does fashion. ‘An experience occurs when a company intentionally uses services as the stage, and goods as props, to engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event. Commodities are fungible, goods tangible, services intangible, and experiences memorable’20. We begin to see fashion build not only on clothes and accessories, but on creating designed experiences that envelop a brand identity transferrable to clothes and accessories. At a recent exhibit at Maker’s House in London’s Soho district, incorporating a tasteful café, live masters of English craft, and readings of Virgina Wolf’s Orlando, Burberry21 is but one example of a house designing not only fashion clothing, but fashion experiences. This project’s fashion experience will be presented by fashiongarments (Section V) and an informative film (Section IV).
III Expose ‘(expose someone to) Introduce someone to (a subject or area of knowledge)’22. This project aims to introduce valuable knowledge for sustainability from the animistic relationship between textiles and Nature to Western cultures.
19 Thani, D. (2016) Op-Ed | is fashion ready for the experience economy? Available at: https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/opinion/op-ed-is-fashion-ready-for-the-experience-economy (Accessed: 5 October 2016). 20 Pine II, J. and Gilmore, J.H. (1998) Welcome to the experience economy. Available at: https://hbr.org/1998/07/welcome-to-the-experience-economy (Accessed: 5 October 2016). 21 Burberry (2016) Makers house. Available at: https://uk.burberry.com/london-fashion-week/september-show/makers-house/ (Accessed: 5 October 2016). 22 Oxford (2016) ‘Expose’, in Oxford Dictionary. Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/expose (Accessed: 6 October 2016).
IV The cult relationship between textiles and Nature as shared by animistic cultures of Indonesia Cults are the antithesis of ‘Spectacular Society’. ‘After the decline of the ancient world, Europe did not know a single cult, a single ritual, a single state or civil ceremony, a single official genre or style serving either the church or the state (hymn, prayer, sacral formulas, declarations, manifestos, etc.) where laughter was sanctioned (in tone, style or language)- even in its most watered-down froms of humour and irony…Laughter remamined outside official falsifications, which were coated with a layer of pathetic seriousness. Therefore all high and serious genres, all high forms of language and style, all mere set phrases and all linguistic norms were drenched in conventionality, hyprocrisy and falsification. Laughter alone remained uninfected by lies’23 . This project first associated the word ‘cult’ with animistic cultures of Indonesia after analysing Shelley Errington’s The Death of Authentic Primitive Art: And Other Tales of Progress. The origins of the word ‘cult’ are defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘from French culte or Latin cultus worship, from cult- inhabited, cultivated, worshipped, from the verb colere’24 .
23 M.M. Bakhtin as quoted by Errington, S.(1998) The death of authentic primitive art: And other tales of progress. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Foreword. 24 Oxford (2016) ‘Cult’, in Oxford Dictionary. Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/cult (Accessed: 6 October 2016).
Quoting Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Shelley writes that ‘the earliest works of art originated in the service of a ritual- first the magical, then the religious kind.’ ‘He calls such works of art ‘cult objects’. Cult objects had an aura, which Benjamin defines as a ‘unique phenomenon of distance, however close it may be’, and goes on to point out that the ‘distance is the opposite of closeness. The essentially distant object is the unapporachable one. Unapproachability is indeed a major quality of the cult image’25 . It seems that Benjamin’s use of ‘unapproachability’ can be substituted with ‘invisible’ and ‘unseen’, words often used to describe animistic relationships. Animism is ‘the attribution of a living soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena’26 . Directed by insights on the cult relationship between textiles and Nature in Indonesian communities from Thread’s of Life co-founder William Ingram, this project has conducted secondary and primary research on the Indonesian islands of Bali and Flores, to discover first hand this perceived cult relationship, and how to make it more approachable to non animistic peoples of spectacular cities such as London.
25 Errington, S.(1998) The death of authentic primitive art: And other tales of progress. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. P. 105 26 Oxford (2016a) ‘Animism’, in Oxford Dictionary. Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/animism (Accessed: 6 October 2016).
This project’s aim theorises that creating a fashion experience inspired by such cultural research will negate the spectacle, by exposing subjects to a new way of seeing: To attribute a living soul to all things, that come from Nature, and place Nature, rather than spectacle, at the center of living: To see through the lens of this relationship between Nature and textiles shared by animistic cultures of Bali and Flores. Further defining Nature and animistic cultures of Indonesia will be conducted in Section III, Cultural Research. The extent to which the project has achieved its aim will be discovered in Chapter VII, Critique.
INVISIBLE STRUCTURES OF SUSTAINABILITY, AN INITIAL UNDERSTANDING I have been attracted to the invisible for a long time. The invisible is that which is often overlooked, it is what can be explained and felt, but cannot be seen by the untrained eye. The invisible is a layered universal concept. On one level, one connects to the invisible when moved by an exceptional piece of music (Mozart) or poetry1 . On another, one connects to the invisible when exposed to the interconnectedness of Nature and humans as shared by Native American cultures popularly emphasised by Disney’s Pocahontas, ‘The rainstorm and the river are my brothers. The heron and the otter are my friends and we are all connected to each other, in a circle, in a hoop that never ends’2 . The Balinese connect to the invisible everyday. ‘Right from birth, their sense of trust is based on something bigger than their own lives.’3
Cultural Research III
‘The Balinese believe that the ultimate power resides in the unseen, intangible realms of the spirit world. The Balinese know that to have power they must remain in harmonious contact with the Sacred and Secret. The strength central to their identity is indeed their religion, interwoven in their culture and daily life. It accommodates both the power of Light and Darkness and the balancing of these forces has never become peripheral to their existence.’4 I am not originally from Bali. My first real experience of Bali was in 2010. Although there are many different cultures that share this connection in different ways to the invisible, having my own connections to Bali have made the Balinese culture the most accessible and meaningful for further research.
1 Piepenburg, M. Les Invisibles. Poetry and Mind Seminar. Cornell University 2 Menken, A. and Schwartz, S. (1995) Colors of the Wind © Walt Disney Music Company 3 Ingram, W. (1998) A little bit one o’clock: Living with a Balinese family. Bali, Indonesia: Ersania Books. (Ingram, 1998). P. 150 4
Marais, G. (2006) Bali, sacred and secret. Saritaksu Editions. Dedication.
RITUAL When living in Bali, it is clear that a connection to the invisible, to the unseen, is practised and maintained through ritual. Ritual is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘A series of actions or type of behaviour regularly and invariably followed by someone’, or ‘A prescribed order for performing a ritual ceremony, especially one characteristic of a particular religion or Church’5 . Religion is defined as, ‘The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.’; the Latin root religion means ‘obligation, bond, or reverence’6 . These definitions untainted by the spectacle, make clear that ritual and religion are distinct practises through which to maintain a connection to the invisible; something beyond, yet within, and understandable by ourselves. Unlike contemporary Western religious societies where rituals are only practised at particular hours of the day, in Bali, rituals form daily life, where time has no clear structure. ‘Bali is not the simplistic paradise many observers tend to perceive, but rather a place of extraordinary complexity and polarity that reflects much of what contemporary life has lost and what can be preserved. The Balinese believe deeply in spiritual forces. There is a constant contact between people, nature, and the diabolic and the divine. Every event in their life must be coupled to an understanding of time. Here, it has a rubber-like quaity; it bounces, it stretches, it disintegrates in extreme heat, or it gathers up the locals, carrying them away to temple festivals, cremations, or teeming markets. Time is untamed and imprecise, playing havoc with Western priorities of constancy, schedules, and puctuality. On other occasions time vibrates like a taut wire supporting intense actvity, and then, inexplicably it slackens causing all attention to subside.
5 Oxford (2016) ‘Ritual’, in Oxford Dictionary. Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/ definition/ritual 6 Oxford (2016) ‘Religion’, in Oxford Dictionary. Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries. com/definition/religion (Accessed: 19 October 2016).
Religion, music and dance, and every form of decoration are intricately woven into the very framework of their being.’7
TEXTILES In Bali, and throughout the the Indonesian archipelago , woven textiles play an important role in religious rituals to maintain harmony with the invisible. ‘In Bali, textiles are much more than just cloths from which garments are made. Beginning with the yarn itself (benang) and the woven textiles, they are a medium through which the divine nature of the universe and its material manifestations are recognised and expressed. The inner spirit of the world-both the natural world and that created by man-expresses reverence and adoration for its creation. It is a world view that does not place an individual man at its hub, or subordinate its environment to him, but rather one in which the divine nature of the living world occupies the center.’8 In fact, written tradition states that textile making originated in Bali from the invisibile. The Purana Bali (sacred writings) ‘states that it was the goddess Ratih, wife of the god Semara, the Raja of the Invisible, who, together with her companions, instructed mankind in the cultivation of two types of cotton- transcribed in Indonesian as kapas cicih and kapas tahun. Rocky soils and (non irrigated) ladang fields were well suited to these crops. The goddess taught the entire process of working the cotton to make finished cloths for men and for women. She also supplied the neccessary equipment-the traditional cagcag loom on which to make songkèt and endek materials. In addition, she taught them elaborate techniques of dyeing.’9 7 Marais, G. (2006) Bali, sacred and secret. Saritaksu Editions. Dedication.P.9 8 Hauser-Schaublin, B., Nabholz-Kartaschoff, M.L. and Ramseyer, U. (1991) Balinese textiles. Republic of Singapore: British Museum Press.P.1 9 Hauser-Schaublin, B., Nabholz-Kartaschoff, M.L. and Ramseyer, U. (1991) Balinese textiles. Republic of Singapore: British Museum Press.P.7
These first forms of textile production mentioned above were based solely on natural principles that did not exceed a scale of production that Nature could not reasonably recover from10 . This form of textile production is still practised across Indonesia, and efforts towards maintaining it amidst progress11 and industrialisation are being put forward by Jean and William Ingram of the Threads of Life organisation, based in Ubud, Bali. William and Jean have spent more than two decades exploring the Indonesian archipelago to understand and actively conserve pre-industrial textile weaving and dye villages. From his experiences, it is a definition of Natural Fashion that William Ingram shared with me that inspired the direction of this research project. Natural Fashion is: Grounded in natural materials and the places they come from, Grounded in hands on skills and the lineages that transmit them, Grounded in a cosmology that sees expression of ancestral form as the highest form of spiritual devotion; Articulating personal creativity from within the groundedness of this practice, And thus articulating an identity in communion with Nature. -William Ingram12
10 Schumacher, E.F. (1974) Small is beautiful: Economics as if people mattered. New York: Harper & Row. 11 Errington, S.(1998) The death of authentic primitive art: And other tales of progress. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 12 Ingram, W. (2016) ‘Natural Fashion’. Interview with.
FLORES FIELD RESEARCH In order to gain a more personal understanding of William’s definition of Natural Fashion for my research, I asked him to recommend an animistic weaving and dye village that I could live and learn in for ten days. Discouraged to stay in Bali amidst high tourist season from June through August, William recommended I stay in a village in the Sikka regency of Flores, a predominantely Christian-Animist island an hour and a half flight east of Bali’s Denpasar Airport, an island less known to tourist flocks, where more than half of the population is skilled in textile weaving13 . Accompanied by Indonesian speaker Carina Hardy, I traveled to Maumere, Flores, and spent ten days living in a natural dye and organic cotton weaving village run by Pak Daniel, a son of a family of weavers and native Floritian. Upon our arrival, Pak Daniel was hosting a natural dye convention to share natural dye techniques between weavers of Flores’ different geographic regions. Pak Daniel openly shared with me his interpretation of animistic culture and how it applies to his daily life and textile practise in line with William Ingram’s definition of Natural Fashion: ‘It’s a local belief that you must make a good relationship with the Three Pillars; first is the Father in the Sky, identical with God, second is Mother Earth; what is Mother Earth? Everything in the world has a spirit, so you must make a good relation with something like a tree, animals, humans. And [the third pillar] is our ancestors who are still alive in another world. [They’re like] wind, now [our ancestors] are here, but we can’t see them. So if you make a good relationship with the Three Pillars, all life will be balanced, happy. The Father in the Sky, the Mother of the Earth, and our ancestors. [These pillars] are also all written down into our textiles [through our textile motifs].’14 13 14
Ingram, W. (2016). Convsersation with. Daniel, p. (2016) Natural Fashion in Flores. Interview with.
In order to maintain this harmonious balance, and as the son of a mother who suffered from cancer as a result of using chemical dyes, Pak Daniel is a strong advocate and experienced practitioner of natural dye techniques in Flores. Chemical dyes first came to Flores in 1970. ‘[In 1970] there were no more natural dyes being used in Flores, because using chemical dyes was so much easier. They are brighter, cheaper, and people like it. But the people did not realise that chemical dyes are very dangerous for the atmosphere. It kills the trees, animals….[When using chemical dyes, when] you eat, [even after washing with soap and water, the chemical dye residues stay on our hands that we eat with] it is not right, you will be sick, you will die also. Our body is like art, [you must keep it healthy]. Flores is a small island. I am promoting natural dyes to help the next generation. When women are pregnant, and using natural dyes, they will be healthy [versus using chemical dyes].’ 15 Throughout past years, Pak Daniel has been leading a natural dye movement throughout Flores. Using natural dyes in Flores holistically seems to make complete geographic and economic sense. Throughout my ten day stay in the village, I produced a hand woven, naturally dyed, organic cotton selendang with my own ikat motif. I produced the selendang from start to finish, including the harvesting of raw materials, all within an approximate five kilometer radius from the village, within ten days. The process began with picking cotton from the village garden, cleaning, fluffing, and spinning the cotton. Next was harvesting wild indigo on a higher elevation in a vacant lot, followed by preparing a salt water indigo dyeing vat; the salt water we borrowed from the sea at a lower elevation. We then went to Pak Daniel’s cliff-side garden, and harvested tumeric and morinda root. Other dye plants for different colours were found in the village garden. After dyeing our cotton threads, we then prepared our warps with assistance from the village mothers, and were patiently taught 15
Daniel, p. (2016) Natural Fashion in Flores. Interview with.
traditional ikat to create our motifs. The village mothers then skillfully wove together our fragile hand-spun cotton threads on backstrap looms. The entire process encapsulated a deep connection to Nature; from the sea side to the mountain, and from plants to people, to create a strong understanding of the interconnected community of Nature, emphasised by the key physical processes of spinning thread and weaving together textiles. This connection to Nature and the invisible is particularly prevalent in Pak Daniel’s village where he has been actively contributing to the harmonious balance between the Three Pillars through natural dyes. Upon going on a walk with two of Ibu Tini’s (Pak Daniel’s sister) sons, I remarked upon the level of their ecological literacy, being able to point out a number of plants and their uses: One as a glue for building houses, another for stopping nose-bleeds. Aside from ecological literarcy, a connection to Nature and the invisible was made clear to me through their practise of ritualistic dance, and an unreserved compassionate attitude towards others.
RITUALS AND WELL-BEING: STRUCTURES OF SUSTAINABILITY In observing different rituals between Bali and Flores that facilitate a connection to the invisible, it can be concluded that such rituals have an overall positive effect on well-being, through the maintenance of personal reverance. ‘It takes time to realise that their graceful smiles can hide depths of anxiety, not to mention fear of having offended the ancestral spirits or the supernatural, whose invisible world is as real to them as what is seen. If the island’s underbelly lies wallowing in the black arts, it is because the Balinese accept that there is a space, a place, and a time for all things. Here Light and Darkness live side by side like twins within the cosmic egg out of which we all come.
Be their religous practise based on superstition, pragmatism or a spiritual ecology of all things being interconnected, the Balinese retain a sense of reverence: a quality that is rarely found in the West’16. Furthermore, the positive relationship between rituals and wellbeing have been researched by Dr. Ellen Idler of Yale University. ‘Meditating, yoga, fasting, walking a prayer circle, making a pilgrimage, taking the sacraments, singing with a choir, going on a weekend retreat, listening to the words of inspired speakers like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., dancing in a group at a wedding, lighting Advent or Hanukkah candles, saying daily prayers, or contemplating a sunset or a mountaintop view are all spiritual and religious practices undertaken by many of us in our daily lives, at special seasons of the year, or maybe just once in a lifetime. Some practices begin early in life and stretch back to our childhoods, while others may be sought out in adolescence and young adulthood, representing new paths. What all of these practices have in common, however, is the way in which they integrate different aspects of our human experience – our emotions with our intellect or our minds with our bodies – while also connecting us with others who share similar beliefs. We seek out these experiences, which are special and set us distinctly apart from our mundane and ordinary daily lives. These experiences lift us up out of our narrow selves and give us a glimpse – if only temporary – of another way to view things as a part, however small, of a larger picture. Spiritual and religious practices that help us integrate the body, mind, and spirit, also provide psychological and physical benefits, as research from the past two decades has shown’.17 Taking well-being one step further, connecting through the invisible through ritual arises to structures of sustainability, such as that of Bali’s water irrigation system built in the ninth century, currently under threat by Western progress, known as the subak. ‘Rice, the water that sustains it, and subak , the cooperative social 16 17
Marais, G. (2006) Bali, sacred and secret. Saritaksu Editions. P. 10 Idler, E. (2008) ‘The psychological and physical benefits of spiritual/religious practices’,
system that controls the water, have together shaped the landscape over the past thousand years and are an integral part of religious life. Rice is seen as the gift of god, and the subak system is part of temple culture. Water from springs and canals flows through the temples and out onto the rice paddy fields. Water temples are the focus of a cooperative management of water resource by a group of subaks . Since the 11th century the water temple networks have managed the ecology of rice terraces at the scale of whole watersheds. They provide a unique response to the challenge of supporting a dense population on a rugged volcanic island. The overall subak system exemplifies the Balinese philosophical principle of Tri Hita Karana that draws together the realms of the spirit, the human world and nature. Water temple rituals promote a harmonious relationship between people and their environment through the active engagement of people with ritual concepts that emphasise dependence on the life-sustaining forces of the natural world.’18
TRANSLATING THE INVISIBLE IN LONDON Returning to London from my field research has reminded me that awakening to the invisible to discover structures of sustainability from the natural world is not something that can only happen on the islands of Bali and Flores. Once experiencing this initial connection one can fashion their own rituals in daily life, and activate one’s own seventh consciousness and intuiton amidst the spectacle, and live free from the spectacle. This conclusion came during a discussion with Professor Kate Fletcher to refine what connecting and reawakening to the invisible and the unseen means, in a way that people of non-animistic cultures could understand.
18 Centre, U.W.H. (2015) Cultural landscape of Bali province: The Subak system as a manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana philosophy. Available at: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1194 (Accessed: 29 November 2016).
‘You can be lying next to a stream or standing in a forest of trees, then suddenly this door, that never looked like a door, opens. And that’s it. A sense that suddenly, an awareness grows. It’s sort of like… like a sense of enlightenment. I really felt within the last five, probably, years of life, that this door opened and I stepped through it, and then it’s profoundly different: My appreciation for things, my capacity to notice, and delight…’ ‘I realised that what I felt which was much more vital to the success of fashion going forward, or more generally to sustainability, wasn’t that my children understood where clothes were being made (as was the mantra of Fashion Revolution), but actually that they, fully dressed in whatever clothes they were wearing, were able to fully engage with the world. And that in the moment, that day, when that [Fashion Revolution day] was happening, we just went in our old, most tattiest, gear, nothing that would be considered a ‘look’, and we just made a den in the woods, and hung-out, and looked at the moss, and we-we just were being; we were’nt doing anything’.19
A walk through Bali’s Tegalalang Rice Terrace fed water by the subak.
Following my return from the field and this tutorial with Professor Kate Fletcher, I have come to the conclusion that an accurate translation of what is means to be connected and reawakened to the invisible, in layman’s terms, is to be engaged with the world, to notice things as they are uniquely presented, to look and ask questions, to be actively interconnected.20 As children21 we have always had this ability to awake and connect to to the invisible, but as a result of ‘Spectacular Society’, many of us adults must now reawaken. A design methodology further addressing this translation with regards to sustainability will be presented in Section IV. 19 20 Group.
Fletcher. K (2016) Tutorial with. Fromm, E. (2005) To have or to be? United Kingdom: Continuum International Publishing
de Saint-Exupery, A. (1993) Le petit prince. Paris: Gallimard-Jeunesse.
A water ritual in Bali. Shot by Chiara Hardy.
FIELD DIARY AND IMAGES
FIELD DIARY AND IMAGES
FIELD DIARY AND IMAGES
FIELD DIARY AND IMAGES
FIELD DIARY AND IMAGES
Watublapi woman refining raw cotton.
Women weaving in Ibu Tiniâ€™s village compound.
Pak Daniel organising his collection of naturally dyed organic cottons.
Young weavers of Flores attending a natural dye workshop.
FIELD DIARY AND IMAGES
I have felt an urge to help humanity in any way that best uses my interests and talents. Design seems to be one of them. Design has the power to bring altruistic change to our world’s current social fabric by reawakening invisible structures of sustainability present in animistic textile cultures of Indonesia. ‘Designers are to our information age what engineers were to the age of steam, what scientists were to the age of reason. They set the mood of the mental environment. They create the envy and desire that fuels the economy and the cynicism that underlies our postmodern condition’. -Kalle Lasn1
DESIGN METHODOLOGY IV
As a designer, one’s choice of medium is crucial in conveying the desired message; the medium is the message2 . The designer’s power lies in bringing togther meaning to medium to create efficacious metaphor, an analogy that turns complex ideas into simple, tangible ones. This is change. As a medium that is not only made of images, but scents, somatosensation, audition, taste (arguably), and an artful appreciation that goes beyond the five tradtionally recognised senses as my textile research in Indonesia has shown; fashion is perhaps the most powerful design medium I know. Without any traditional fashion design training to fall back on, I had to look within, to my own innate universal Nature, the driving force behind my designs. It is in this way that my practise not only serves as an output for my cultural research, but further informs it.
1 Lasn, K. (2005) Lasn summer05. Available at: http://fightingwords.us/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Lasn_summer05. pdf (Accessed: 23 November 2016). 2 McLuhan, M. (1964) Understanding media: The extensions of man. New York: McGraw-Hill.
‘Because Nature happens around and within you continuosly, you know its processes by heart.’3 ‘Ask questions of nature. Nature has every possible answer. You simply need to listen. This book is a reminder that there is no system more powerful, more creative, or more truthful than Nature. Acknowledge it. Appreciate it. Use it. It belongs to you, and you belong to it’ 4. As a designer, listening to Nature is just the beginning. In the materialisation of a design, particularly in garment construction, one cannot completely toss out the wisdom of tradition that may or may not be informed by Nature, and instead by spectacle, particularly in the fashion industry! One must look out to learn and evaluate tradition. It requires courage and dedication to give birth to something new, and when stepping in to a traditional space of garment construction as a new-comer, one may lack courage and blindly follow convention out of confusion, and for example, use a polyester lining as I have done, that although recyclable, is made of carcinogenic petrochemicals that may be somatically absorbed into the bloodstream. This methodology attempts to further expose the relationship between Nature and textiles demonstrated by animistic cultures; it has been the culmination of my experiences in the field, and over the past year and a half working on designing and constructing eclectic garments at London College of Fashion. It explains not only the methodology by which the garments for this project were produced, but also explains aspirations for future garments. 3 Macnab, M. (2011) Design by nature: Using universal forms and principles in design. Berkeley, CA: New Riders Publishing.Introduction 4 Macnab, M. (2011) Design by nature: Using universal forms and principles in design. Berkeley, CA: New Riders Publishing.Afterword
Figure 2. Design methodology flow chart.
Every design has a purpose; a function. This function then informs the design’s form and aesthetic, which is then met by the design’s physical materials and process of materialisation.
FUNCTION My aim is to: Design a fashion experience that exposes the cult relationship between textiles and Nature shared by animistic cultures of Indonesia. As I discovered in Sections II and III of this project, the relationship between textiles and Nature driven by a connection to Nature from the seventh consciousness can be translated to an engagedness with the interconnectedness of the world, of ultimately, cause and effect, where textiles are a medium to practise, both physically and metaphorically, this understanding. From this thought process, I have deduced that the function of this project’s fashion design is to expose, metaphorically and physically, an understanding and engagedness in the interconnectedness of all things, that come from Nature, inspired by the animistic textile cultures of Bali and Indonesia. Indeed, the above function is still too broad to design anything in specific to materialise, and a particular form for the design must now be explored.
FORM Design has the clear ability to harness the power of metaphor. Metaphors, a form of conceptual blending5 , are tools that help simplify complex ideas into tangible analogies, and encourage a connection to the abstract seventh consciousness that is connected to Nature and all things to make moral judgements. ‘The metaphor reminds us that the universe is full of cousins.’6 5 Fauconnier, G., Turner, M. and Turner, A. (2003) The way we think: Conceptual blending and the mind’s hidden complexities. United States: Basic Books. 6 Casnig, J.D. 1997-2013. A Language of Metaphors. Kingston, Ontario, Canada: Knowgramming. com
In order to design a fashion experience that exposes, to Western audiences, an understanding of the cult relationship between textiles and Nature shared by animistic cultures of Indonesia, a relationship that again in its essence, is a rather complex aim, this project’s design must simplify it through metaphor. This design imbues metaphor onto fashion for sustainability. Bodies as Clothing is a layered metaphor that gently directs a re-awakening of the seventh consciousness to bridge the gap between Western and Balinese-Floritian animistic cultures. The Balinese believe the ‘body is more than the sum of its parts. It carries the incarnated soul and exists in a time and space of interacting realities wherein it can be influenced by spirit and entities and in turn effect them in the supernatural world. As a microcosm of the universe, the body reflects the forces of Nature and is permeated energy from the unfathomable source of life itself.’7 That said, bodies, as clothing, are only a sheath to the unseen universal life-force energy within, l’élan vital8. Our clothes and bodies are as one: Our skin absorbs what is in our clothes9; what is in our clothes is in our bodies. Our clothes are as our skin. In understanding the first layer of this metaphor; that like what we put into our bodies, what we put into our clothing affects our personal health, the cognitive capacity to conceptually blend10, and understand the more holistic layers of this metaphor that expose the animistic relationship between Nature and textiles is increased.
7 Marais, G. (2006) Bali, sacred and secret. Saritaksu Editions. P. 125 8 Bergson, H., Mitchell, A., Gunter, P.A.Y. and Henri, B. (1983) Creative evolution. United States: University Press of America. 9 Gilbère, G. (1990) Consumers Beware: Toxins Lurking in Your Clothing! Available at: http://www. totalhealthmagazine.com/Allergies-Asthma/Consumers-Beware-Toxins-Lurking-in-Your-Clothing.html (Accessed: 29 November 2016). 10 Fauconnier, G., Turner, M. and Turner, A. (2003) The way we think: Conceptual blending and the mind’s hidden complexities. United States: Basic Books.
Inspired by Mario Perniola’s The Sex Appeal of the Inorganic11 , in a spectacular materialistic world, seeing our bodies as clothing helps us once again become things that not only think, but feel, feel omnipresent Nature. For sustainable fashion to be successful, particularly in the Western world, it must have sex appeal, and not be covered in credentials of how one designer is ‘more sustainable’ than the other: “It’s as if everyone thinks that by dressing up the industry initiatives in complicated verbiage and scientific references the weightiness of the subject, the importance it needs to be taken with is made clear. Fibers, exciting. Factories, ooh. Waste - I get chills, you do too right?”12. Sustainable fashion must not be presented as an ethical choice, but rather as a quality of life choice, as parallely, William McDonough says with regards to Climate Change, ‘Don’t make it an ethical problem; make it a quality of life problem. Whatever you do, look at the quality of what you do. When we make it an ethical problem, we will not solve it.’13 The future manifestations of Bodies as Clothing not only aim to introduce more sex appeal into sustainable fashion, but also focuses on the issue of sustainable fashion as one of individual quality of life, by, as a starting point, raising more awareness of the consequences on one’s quality of life of wearing bioaccumulating toxic fibres and chemically dyed garments.
11 Perniola, M. and Verdicchio, M. (2004) Sex appeal of the inorganic; Trans. By Massimo Verdicchio. LONDON: Continuum International Publishing Group 12 Friedman, V. Quoted by Hendriksz, V. (2016) Copenhagen fashion summit: Making sustainability ’sexy’. Available at: https://fashionunited.com/news/fashion/copenhagn-fashion-summit-making-sustainability-sexy/2016051811370 (Accessed: 22 November 2016). 13 McDonough, W. and Braungart, M. (2003) Cradle to cradle: Remaking the way we make things. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. P.11
Additionally, the aesthetic of this design for Bodies as Clothing comes with the project’s aim; an aesthetic that bridges together urban cultures of the West, and the animistic cultures of Bali and Flores. In doing so, this aesthetic must be practical enough for urban wear, but at the same time, semiotically and materially honour the Three Pillars of life (The Father in the Sky, Mother Earth, and our ancestors) referred to by Pak Daniel in Section III. Semiotically, this design form does so by implementing into the aesthetic images and silhouettes that create a semantic field of the sky and earth, all of which must be culturally alert, in order to honour our ancestors, and not misappropriate them. The implementation of this aesthetic for this project’s completed practise will be explained in Section VI. After designing the form of fashion, then comes its process of materialisation.
MATERIALISATION The process of realising a design in the material form for any sustainable fashion must be value driven at a scale with known consequences that are morally acceptable to our seventh consciousness that is connected to Nature within. This makes us certainly self-reliant, and that is a key aspect of sustainability.
‘Nature is completely self-reliant because it works within resources that are immediately available. It is always of the moment because it is ‘value-driven’. The word value is used all the time, but rarely is its simple and straightforward definition considered.’14 ‘Value means a fair exchange, which is the business of Nature. Never too much or too little, Nature trades evenly. Energy is neither lost nor gained in the process of transfer: It is simply reordered. Nature lives by a resource-based economy. If the resources don’t exist for a new development, then the development won’t exist. It’s a basic system , and it works’15 . Through value driven processes, Bodies as Clothing strictly uses herbally dyed Ayurverdic fabrics, and does not ignore the known correlations between particular synthetically made and dyed fibres and the bioaccumulation of toxic substances in the body16 . Bodies as Clothing are to be cut and stitched, zero waste, using an adapted form of Julian Robert’s subtraction cutting17 method, as a ritual for understanding and engaging with our interconnected Nature. Continuing this practise, all labour and and raw materials for the production of Bodies as Clothing is to be relationally18 sourced.
14 Macnab, M. (2011) Design by nature: Using universal forms and principles in design. Berkeley, CA: New Riders Publishing.P. 38 15 ibid 16 Dale, F. (2012) Toxic clothing. Available at: http://www.foodsmatter.com/environment_chemical_sensitivity/environment/articles/clothing-chemicals-09-12.html (Accessed: 22 November 2016). 17 Roberts, J. (2015) Subtraction cutting by Julian Roberts. Available at: http://subtractioncutting. tumblr.com/ (Accessed: 30 November 2016). 18 Belavina, E., & Girotra, K. (2014). Supply Networks for Relational Sourcing. INSEAD Working Papers
Zero waste subtraction cut tunic-dress in handwoven fair-trade Indian fabric by Allen. Modelled by Megumi
More and more fashions brands have begun to incorporate fashion films into their communication strategies for the following reasons: ‘1. Fashion films are mostly produced by luxury fashion firms as a new form of experience through entertainment and seduction, as a manifestation of experiential marketing. 2. Fashion film establishes a new relationship with consumers, closer and more intimate than any other communication strategy, due to the digital formats’ interactive possibilities. 3. Storytelling and serialization of fashion films are some of the most recurrent sources to build brand engagement.
4. Fashion film seeks an aesthetic delight, through the use of beauty, balance, surprise and harmony, as a way of achieving a profound impact on the consumer. Fashion film dematerializeproducts and set them apart from their physical characteristics but paradoxically, fashion products can also became a real and subjective element with their own life and personality…’ 1 At the core of the above reasons for the shift to fashion films, is moving image’s ability to liven metaphors and make them all the more tangible, to create an experience and story imbued onto the fashion brand and semiotically the fashion product itself . ‘Metaphors (multidimensional meanings) are the basis of organising conceptual thought by creating multiple relationships and solving many problems at once. They are as effective with visuals as they are words’2 .
1 Díaz Soloaga, P. & García Guerrero, L. (2016). Fashion films as a new communication format to build fashion brands. Communication & Society 29(2), P. 49 2 Macnab, M. (2011) Design by nature: Using universal forms and principles in design. Berkeley, CA: New Riders Publishing. P. 9
With regards to the Society of the Spectacle in today’s digital age, the spectacle of consumerism has now spread to every aspect of life and culture3 . Therefore, creating a fashion experience through fashion film that has the ability to touch upon every aspect of life and culture is one of the most powerful ways of negating the spectacle.
JUXTAPOSITION OF NATURAL IMAGES Inspired by Ingmar Begman’s 1966 film, Persona, this film for Bodies as Clothing has been specifically designed to gently surprise and amuse viewers, whilst encouraging the ‘public to engage in studious efforts at interpretation or simply outright involvement of themselves, empathically and esthethtically, and let the egos and ids fall where they may’4 . The intention behind Bodies as Clothing is to challenge viewer’s interpretations of Nature and fashion. My film for Bodies as Clothing does so, for example, by juxtaposing an image of a group of ants on a tree and pedestrians crossing Oxford Circus’ main cross-walk amidst high street shops, spinning under a jungle waterfall and in the center of the aforementioned crosswalk. Such juxtapositions attempt to communicate that all things in our world come from and are a part of Nature and are therefore interconnected: Ants are just as much a part of Nature as pedestrians, and a waterfall is just as much a part of Nature as the center of London’s Oxford Circus.
3 Debord, G. and Imrie, M. (1990) Comments on the society of the spectacle. London: Verso Books. 4 Crowther, B. (1967) Movie review - - PERSONA. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/ movie/review?res=EE05E7DF173DE773BC4F53DFB566838C679EDE&pagewanted=print (Accessed: 22 November 2016).
The film begins with footage from Flores, Indonesia of sacred textile production using organic, hand spun cotton, indigo dye and ikat techniques. It is narrated by Pak Daniel who refers to the Three Pillars of animistic culture referred to in Section III. A completed garment made of such textiles is then set in Central London, layered with images of bodies, sculptures of breasts5, and scenes from the Floritian landscape, such as a monkey and holy crater lake locally known as Kelimutu. All images are semiotically interconnected by the action of spinning, which reflects back to the basis of the garment’s textile production, and indeed, alludes to a key invention that helped set off the industrial revolution: The Spinning Jenny6. In summary, through this melange of moving imagery and symbolism, the film attempts to compel viewers to see the connections between textile production, our bodies, the city, rural landscapes, and Nature that encompasses all of these, to once again become things contrary to the numbness to life proliferated by the spectacle, things that feel.
SOUNDTRACK ‘Lean On’ from the Album ‘Peace is the Mission’ produced by Major Lazer and Dj Snake, who are allowing their content to be used in my video currently shared on YouTube7 .
5 Hardy, C. (2016). ‘Hold Me’. Sculptures. 6 History.com (2015) Spinning Jenny industrial revolution. Available at: http://www.intriguing-history.com/spinning-jenny-industrial-revolution/ (Accessed: 30 November 2016). 7 https://www.youtube.com/video_copynotice?v=T4MVBXog0vA
To see bodies as clothing is to once again become a thing that feels1 . Designing clothing was necessary to carry out the core metaphor of this project that attempts to bridge Western and Animistic understandings of, and relationships with, Nature. The two sample garments produced for this project were made to follow the Design Methodology in Section IV.
Garment 1: Indigo Naga Wrap Coat The form of this garment is as such that it requires minimum cutting in to the fabric. Listening to the fabric2 , it told me not to cut it into a pattern, but instead, to find a way to drape and secure it otherwise. There was much work put in to indigo-dyeing, hand-spinning, ikat, and backstrap loom weaving the fabric for it to be cut into a conventional Western pattern that I currently have little training to make.
THE LOOK VI 32
Instead, the center line of fabric has been designed to cover the front center line of the abdomen, to then criss-cross wrap at the back, and drape at the front of the body, with three shell-buttons (sourced from the Philippines) to secure and allow complete movement of the arms for urban cycling or brisk walking. This detatchable design also allows the textile to be used as a blanket, interior decoration, or a shawl worn with a nude torso .
1 Perniola, M. and Verdicchio, M. (2004) Sex appeal of the inorganic; Trans. By Massimo Verdicchio. LONDON: Continuum International Publishing Group. 2 Karan, D. (2016) â€˜In conversation with Donna Karanâ€™. Conversation with
The ikat motif on the textile is that of the Naga, or dragon, known in Floritian lore as the protector of Mother Earth3 . The indigo used to dye the garment is a sacred plant with known healing properties4 . This garment is a complete iteration of Section IV’s Design Methodology.
Garment 2: Poléng Culottes The garment’s skirt form is symbolic of the detachment of male and female stereotypes proliferated by the spectacle, yet unlike a skirt it has a crotch with a depth shallow enough to comfortably cycle in. The design uses the selvedge from the cut-out pattern as a matching draw-string. Mid-deep pockets provide practicality, matched with sacred chequered symbolism. The handwoven, chequered fabric whose dye is of unknown origin, holds very significant meaning in Bali. The ‘black and white squares are associated with mystical power. Black is not necessarily indicative of evil, whereas white can be the colour of witches. The wraps, called kain poleng, are a reminder of the invincibility of both light and darkness. ’5 Due to poor judgement and a temporary lack of resources, this garment has not been made true to the materialisation aspect of the Design Methodology.
3 Daniel, P. (2016) ‘In conversation with Pak Daniel’. Conversation with. 4 Renukadevi, K.P. and Sultana, S.S. (2011) ‘Determination of antibacterial, Antioxidant and Cytotoxicity effect of Indigofera tinctoria on lung cancer cell line NCI-h69’, International Journal of Pharmacology, 7(3), pp. 356–362. doi: 10.3923/ijp.2011.356.362. 5 Marais, G. (2006) Bali, sacred and secret. Saritaksu Editions. P. 118
SKETCHES AND REALISATION
SKETCHES AND REALISATION 35 Shot by Megumi
As an artist and designer, â€˜The intimacy involved can make it hard to be subjective. Heartfelt emotions are involved and often cloud objectivity. This leads many to seek the viewpoints of peers whether from formal group critiques or individual one-on-one assessmentâ€™1 . As my project is a form of communication through a blend of art and design, it is important for me to enquire whether my desired message has been communicated and not clouded by my own judgement and emotions. I found critiques from inviduals to be more effective than those from groups2.
I presented two iterations of my work, to two respectable individuals, Jeanne, a food anthropologist, and Megumi, a graphic designer, both based in London. I first openly asked them for their thoughts on the metaphor, Bodies as Clothing, then proceeded to show them the film, and asked them to read its rationale. Their opinions on the film and rationale were then asked for. Their responses and names have been recorded with their consent. The critique from Jeanne was inputted to form iteration II, which was then critiqued to realistic satisfaction by Megumi to form iteration III, confidently presented to you. (Iteration I of the project did not yet contain the Bodies as Clothing metaphor). My conversations with Jeanne and Megumi provided my project with key insights and confidence. Their responses are marked begining with a single dash on the following pages.
1 McKinley, R. (2014) Receiving feedback | the importance of Art Critiques. Available at: http://www.artistsnetwork.com/articles/business-of-art/the-importance-of-art-critiques-4-tips-for-receiving-feedback (Accessed: 19 November 2016). 2 Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2015) Why group Brainstorming is a waste of time. Available at: https://hbr. org/2015/03/why-group-brainstorming-is-a-waste-of-time (Accessed: 19 November 2016).
Iteration II Presented to JEANNE
-Ah I get it! The relationship between bodies and clothing can be interchangeable*.
What do you think is the value of metaphors?
What images does the phrase ‘Bodies as Clothing’ conjure up in your mind? -Skin. Skin-clothing, but not as vivid. I would always struggle with the metaphor in my notebook, I would have to draw arrows [to signify the direction of what is being transformed by the ‘as’]. Dogs as cats. Would cats act like dogs? Or dogs act like cats? -I would see dogs that act like cats. So your metaphor is an embodied form of fashion. For some reason when I picture Bodies as Clothing I see clothing that resembles a body first. ---[Allen shows Jeanne his doodle of ‘bodies as clothing’]---
-They help me visualise; they enrich, they add to mental vocabularly, they make more tangible things that are not. What are your thoughts [on the film]? -I love the message, it appeals to things that I believe in. I would want to see a little more of the connection, no-because I do think you’re addressing it… Ok, so….By Bodies as Clothing, for you that means … So in the book that I read that inspired me to do this, the authour says, when you learn to see bodies as clothing, when you see the flesh of your skin just as the jacket that you put on your armchair before you go to bed at night, when you see that your body just as the sheath to something greater within you- your body just as the sheath to your soul… -Ah I see that! And once you’re able to manipulate, and take control of your body as much as you do your clothing, you become something that ‘feels’ again, and is reconnected to this feeling, energetic world, rather than a consumeristic material world. -So are you equating this body-sheath with making the clothing like that, and using animistic cultures, and infusing the clothing with a sense of Nature? Well that’s the first layer, and the second layer is that you should treat your clothing as you do your body. So whatever you put in to your clothing, should have just as much thought as whatever you put in to
your body [as food] . Because your skin is the largest organ of your body, and whatever is in your clothing is gradually absorbed by your skin. -So it’s not just about the production but it’s also about the wearing and the implementing part. Hmm! That’s quite beautiful. My main idea is to find a metaphor that could help people understand the essence of interconnectedness that animistic cultures share. One day I was like, ‘Oh! This bodies as clothing metaphor really intrigues me because it’s a conceptual blend that takes people’s minds to put together two things that are similar yet different , and are interconnected. -Yes So if people can understand this one interconnection, maybe they can understand, the greater interconnection [upheld by animistic cultures of Indonesia] . Does that make sense? -Yes, it completely makes sense, but I think it would be nice, like how you were explaining the metaphor, to have a little more background and explanation as to what you mean by ‘bodies as clothing’. Because the way you just explained it to me- that makes sense, it makes sense to me.
I like that! [and didn’t think of that connection before]. -And the colours are also quite nice. And it’s nice that you start with the video clips in Indonesia, and then you go to London, that’s a nice parallel, and that shows what you’re trying to say: You’re drawing from these animistic cultures and bringing them to the West. Thank you! -I hope that was helpful! Yes, it was! You helped me find a clearer structure for how to simplify the metaphor into clearer categories (for a lack of a better word) to emphasize the different layers of complexity that are behind this one metaphor. *Note on metaphor reversibility: ‘Metaphor Reversibility: The stronger the metaphor, the more reversible it becomes. “That man is a dog”/”That dog is a man” doesn’t reverse as sensibly as “This house is a box”/”This box is a house”. This is because the comparative elements of man=dog are subject to personal opinion and implication, while the comparative elements of house=box can be seen with simple, universal geometry’3 .
Ok! So I’ll explain it in my project’s film rationale more like I just did to you… What did you think of the images in the film? -They’re lovely, beautiful. A lot of them were overlapping, a lot of layers, which definitely conveys a sense of the complexity that you’re trying to describe, in terms of gaps and connecting things. For me, when you have a bunch of layers…Well first off, layers is kind of a good connection to clothing, to skin, and as building layers up to something ….As a set of links and connections.
Casnig, J.D. 1997-2013. A Language of Metaphors. Kingston, Ontario, Canada: Knowgramming.
Iteration III presented to MEGUMI (Graphic designer) What images conjure up in your mind when you hear the phrase ‘bodies as clothing’? -Hmm bodies as clothing…Nudity, like being in Nature. Nice! I really like that response. What did you think of the film? How did it make you feel? What did you think the message was in connection to the images? -I think, first you show how the fabric is made, so it kind of shows the process, and then I think you focused on the spinning part, and how that’s related to the creation of fabric. And then I think you kind of use this idea of ‘spin’ and take it into different contexts, when you’re spinning with the fabric on you, in the city of London. And I guess this juxtaposition, and having it out of context from where [the fabric] is originally made, it makes me… hmm… How would I put it? It made me aware of the origins of the materials. I think at one point [in the film] you focused on the plastic litter on the ground, and in some way that’s another juxtaposition. At the beginning there was a lot of Nature, and everything was made of natural things, so you have this idea of being environmentally friendly: It has a beginning, but it also has an end, because it goes in a cycle. At the end you show the streets of London and how there’s litter, where the system is not very circular, [instead] it’s linear because you don’t know where this trash will go , it might end up in the ocean and not get recycled. So I think your juxtapositions [in your film] made me realise where materials come from, but also where they get thrown out; like the afterlife of materials, if that makes sense.
summary My first official critique with Jeanne provided valuable feedback that I then inputted into the third iteration of my presentation of the film, the key communicator of my presentation. It was evident from Megumi’s feedback on my film’s third iteration that my intended message of exposing the greater relationship between textiles and Nature shared by animistic cultures of Indonesia, and encouraging cognitive speculation of this relationship’s circular interconnections, was more or less carried across. In future, given more time potentially at PhD level, I would like to further test the efficacy of this medium for communicating the message of my project’s aim.
This project has been an incredible voyage of making connections both near and far. As MA Fashion Futures students, we aspire to step in to our most far-flung imaginations, and combine thought and feeling to design our findings into a sustainable material reality for positive change in fashion industry, an industry that spans the globe. Processing this project from my farthest, yet closest imagination has helped me discover my own identity and vocation within fashion and sustainability, with a plan to start my own enterprise, entitled Bodies as Clothing. I thank all my supporters around our interconnected world for their wisdom, encouraging me to continue, even when I myself thought my project was just a bunch of abstract nonsense: Kate Fletcher, Alex McIntosh, Pak Daniel, William Ingram, Donna Karan, Carina Hardy, Cynthia Hardy, Jeanne Kessira, Megumi Koyama, Marie Roy, Rei Kawakubo, MA Fashion Futures, London College of Fashion, UAL. The next time you go shopping in the city, donâ€™t just see spectacular clothes and a spectacular city landscape, see bodies, all the bodies of Nature that made those clothes and buildings, and how they may affect your earthly body. Conceptually blend beyond perceived limits. Engage in metaphor, your body, local community, and humanity. Connect and be. Fashion.
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