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MA Project Proposal 2011 Bernadette Ehl MA Fashion Artefact

mini glossary 1 tangital: combination of tangible and digital (

2 phygital: combination of physical and digital (

‘Tangital1 Beings- the right to bear arms’


mini glossary

index Introduction Idea Rationale Aim & Objective Finished research Expected research Technical Process Methodologies Market Bibiography Links timetable

‘Tangital beings-binary code of arms’ jumper by Beehl


The technological age has a big influence on the way we communicate with each other. Before the rise of the Internet and mobile technology we all wrote letters to correspond and communicate in the written word or used the telephone as a more immediate way to gain or transmit information. The only social media was printed newsletters from work, school or from the clubs you were a member of. Nowadays there is a much more instant way of communicating everything, important or trivial, to anybody you want, even simultaneously to more than one group or person. Although it seems that we have more freedom and range to connect, it is also evident that at the same time we have more possibilities to keep people at a distance more easily, through screening phone calls, number ID, blocking them from Skype or Facebook and so forth. Do we loose intent and the attention to detail with this way of communicating?


In my Unit 2 project called ‘Tangital1 beings- the binary code of arms’ I explored combining an old fashioned way of communicating facts and feelings through an interpretation of modern communication technology. A poem by J.W. von Goethe (‘Proximity of a Beloved one’) was translated into binary code through a website offering that service. The code was then ‘misread’ as a knitting chart for machine knitting. The intention behind it was to delay time to contrast the instant gratification mentality. The title ‘ binary code of symbols used in the family instantly be identified if a type of code. It shields communicates.

arms’ was added to refer to the crests and achievements that cannot you don’t know how, therefore it is and protects at the same time as it

The coat of arms can be interpreted as an early way branding. In marketing it is an obvious strategy to people feel part of something, a status, a group, a life, which again guards from other-thinkers while time communicates what you are a part of and what stands for.

of make way of at the same that ‘what’

For my MA project I want to take these topics further and look into self-branding and shielding through our second lives on the Internet and our fancy devices.

my facebook profile, may 2011 trial ‘pixel shaper’, model desinger’s own

idea-sketch ‘embroidery typewriter’ collage designer’s own


‘Machines are helping us to be more human, helping us to connect with each other. And really it ends up being more human than technology because we are co-creating each other all the time. […] it’s still human connection, it’s just

done in a different way. We are just increasing our humanness

and our ability to connect with each other regardless of geography.’ (Amber Case, Cyborg Anthropologist, discussing the Internet and technological communication devices, TEDWomen Talk filmed Dec 2010, posted Jan 2011)

The idea that connectivity is increasing our humanness is intriguing. I would go even further in saying that communication or the lack thereof in any shape or form is what contributes towards the human essence. Communication and co-creation are therefore a part of the human essence as well as they are a way to protect the essence as a whole. What would that essence look like? Could there be a symbol or depiction for it? How would you physically protect it? Isn’t that exactly what everybody always does, protecting their essence, only leaking drops or splashes when necessary?

‘The right to bear arms’… Coming back to the coat of arms analogy… I noticed that in everyday life everyone constantly carries a shield with them in person as much as in their digital lives. There are ways to show as much as you want and as little as you want, you can disguise yourself or bare your soul, deceive and be deceived and there are tools to do that. Everyone is aware of the possibilities, which therefore enforce the right to bear arms! In my final project I want to approach all these topics by developing a collection of 8 machines, instruments and tools or utensils that interpret modern communication in all its width. Branding/marketing/advertising, social media network profiles, the way we dress, what we eat, watch, read and so forth. In the end EVERYTHING is or can be inferred as communication or code according to semiotics.

Aim & Objectives

The aim is to create an installation with pieces that together can create an outcome but that also act as individual pieces. The spectator needs to be intrigued and invited to self reflect. Each device will be derived from the subtopics mentioned above, in some instances more or less literally.

To achieve this aim in the best possible way I need to make carefully informed decisions via experimentation throughout this unit to present well made, detailed craftsmanship. Material research is very important for this project to create an easily adoptable and comprehensible feel for the collection, which will influence the viewer’s curiosity and reception of my pieces.

‘ hemp chair’ by Werner Aisslinger 2011

‘ Liquid Wood’ by Philippe Starck & Eugeni Quitllet (zartan chair) 2011

Finished research

The research I did for my previous project and the research for my contextual studies essay (‘ Phygital Imprints: wedding the physical with the digital for better or for worse?’) are both sources I work from now. These researches included semiotics, semantics, socio cultural aspects, marketing and branding, the Slowmovement, different communication devices, social media, codes and new technological applications for the physical world (see bibliography). Recently I looked into the coat of arms and their application and meaning, the production of self-made paper and went to the Museum of London to study old machinery. Design and fashion references were also collected. Material research started with the experiments of making my own paper from leather with and without wallpaper glue, on metal mesh or polyester mesh and the size of the embroidery required to leave a visible imprint in the leather. I also tried to work with different colours to see whether they would merge properly during the process. Two ‘pin art’ objects were combined to create a shaping device for the self-made leather to also leave a pixel impression in the material. stella McCartney F/W 2008


collage designers own

photograph of musical chest in Museum of London, taken 4/11

Expected research I will visit the College of Arms in London in a few days to review the meanings of the shapes of the crests and the compositions, which will serve as more input for my design. The leather paper needs to be improved on durability through different additives but also on the look of the surface maybe through polishes or waxes. The Morse code will find an audio application I will be working on with two people, one is a product designer/ DJ the other is a sound engineer, to create a Morse code reader which translates it into rhythm or melody when reading several lines simultaneously. Whether the Morse code will be embroidered by hand or machine or punched needs addressing as well as either referring to a typewriter or an old printing press. All the other utensils will depend in shape or use on the more complicated objects. The embroidery frames for the mesh used to make the leather paper can be worked on instantly although their shape is connected to the coat of arms research outcome.

Technical process

It all starts with the product that needs protection whether that product will actually be made in the end, is not definite yet. As a hypothetical influence I will work around the idea of a fragrance bottle that holds the ‘essence’ mentioned earlier to assimilate the restrictions and references needed for the designs of the machines and tools. The bottle would not be made out of glass but rather made from a soft material. Translucency of the chosen material would be desirable hence the use of maybe silicone or polyester. Think translucent luxurious hot water bottle. For the actual pieces I will start constructing with found parts and in wood or plastics to explore the volumes and structures wanted. The self made leather is made by tearing thinly skived leather into small pieces, drench them in water and run a mixer through it until the fibres float around in the water. Then you take the mesh, embroidered or punched with the Morse code, to accumulate the amount of fibres for the thickness wanted. Place it in the ‘pixilation shaper’ and let it dry.

‘leather paper’ trials april 2011

Methodologies (neo)Rococo

The overall look and feel of the machines and instruments will spring from the Rococo period and its new interpretation shown here in the work of different designers and artists. The nature of this period is what appeals to me with its asymmetrical shapes, the big volumes and the lightweight, playful use of materials. It was also the period in which rich and poor where able to buy similar furniture and objects because of the new techniques and use of materials. This to me points towards the gadgets today that rich and less fortunate people have the same access to. (

Telegraph & Morse-code

Sending telegraphs with Morse code was the first electronic way of communication. There were several inventors working on the idea of instant communication with a distant recipient, but the painter and inventor Samuel W.B. Morse succeeded with his interpretation in 1844. (

Instead of using the binary code again I now want to focus on the Morse code due to its audio qualities that interpret my idea of intonation and misunderstanding because of the lack thereof in hastily written text perfectly.

Portrait of Samuel Morse in Morse code

‘leather paper’ trials april 2011

Hybrids & neologism

‘….vocabularies - all vocabularies, even those which contain the words which we take most seriously, the ones most essential to our self-descriptions - are human creations, tools for the creation of such other artefacts as poems, utopian societies, scientific theories, and future generations. … changing the way we talk…(is) changing what we want to do and what we think we are.’ (Richard Rorty, 1988, Contingencey, Irony and Solidarity (1989:53,20)

Hybrids and neologisms are occurrences that exist because of the lack thereof. Mostly they are a combination of 2 already existing objects or words to satisfy the new developed need for them. My interpretation of this phenomenon will be mirrored in my collection. The machines or instruments I want to create are the new developed need, that in their right ask for a new material to justify their existence. Leather paper is a new material I developed to refer to the old fashioned way of communication by letters but enabling also a protective layer for something, referring to the coat of arms.

Skill evidence

Because I studied product design I have a broad knowledge of manufacturing processes and worked with all the materials I intent to use in this project before. I am confident that I am able to construct anything I want to either with the technical help the University offers or the array of skill that lies within my grasp through my widespread network. The fact that I live in Hackney Wick, the densest population of artists and craftsmen and women in the whole world, contributes to my positivism on this matter. I am also a quick learner, which feeds into my confidence to achieve what I set out to do here.


At the graduation exhibition I want my collection to look as if the pieces were in use at that very moment, but that the person using them seemingly just went away to get something. I would like it to look like a combination of workshop and laboratory meaning slightly messy and not to clinical.

more (neo)rococo references

http://www.zeitgeistworld. com/?p=11885

Alexander McQueen F/W 2010


Customization is still eagerly used in consumer oriented marketing. Even the magazine Wallpaper offers now the possibility to customize covers. Funnily enough I also found a website that promotes bonding and strengthening of family values by designing your own crest and have it printed on many different products such as t-shirts, mugs and caps. ( I can see my collection providing custom packaging for high fashion fragrances, considering that some brands offer the customer to design the scent, so why not the packaging?

Bibliography Bachelard,Gaston (1994) The poetics of space , edition Beacon Press Ballard,J.G. (1995) Crash publ. Vintage Baudrillard, Jean (1988) Forget Foucault, publ Semiotext(e) (2005) The System of Objects , publ Verso Barthes, Roland (1972) Mythologies , Farrar, Straus and Giroux (1988) The semiotic challenge Hill & Wang Pub Buchanan,R & Margolin,V (1996)The idea of design, MIT Press Dunne,Anthony (2005) Hertzian Tales , MIT press Foucault, Michel (1994 )The order of things , Vintage Garner, Philip (1982) Better Living Catalogue, Putnam Pub Group (T) Terence Hawkes ( 1991) Structuralism and Semiotics, Routledge Krippendorff, Klaus (2005) The semantic turn- a new foundation for design , CRC Levin, Charles (1996) Jean Beaudrillard- a study in cultural metaphysics , Harvester Wheatsheaf Mitchell, William J. (2005) Placing Words: Symbols, Space, and the City , MIT Press

Film: Aronovsky, Darren (1998)


, Artisan Entertainment

Online sources: Case, Amber (2010), (7:01min-7:39min)

‘leather paper’ trials april 2011 different types of mesh (metal left, polyester right)

Industrial links & sponsors waiting for reply from ‘brother’ regarding sponsorship Hackney Wick person Tim Davies ( mechanics) Paulus v/d Heijden ( product designer aka DJ+ < >) Per Arild Iversen ( MA Audio/sound engineer/composer <>) Alex Schaub (founder Fablab Amsterdam, programmer, engineer <>) Ivo Hulskamp ( product and MA spatial design/ engineer <>)

leather paper research

first trial (big bits of leather & some wallpaper glue

smoother trial outcome & mixed colours

grey leathers to make pulp shape(see one of the pictures)

thicker ‘paper’ uni colour & imprint without glue

tricolour & thick without glue

first thin sample from ‘pixel-shaper’ with glue

Tangital Beings: the right to bear arms  

MA project proposal for the MA Fashion Artefact course at the London College of Fashion 2012. The proposal questions the way we communicate...