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Clothing of the Future

Just discovered this funny video highlighting what fashion designers in 1939 predicted for the year 2000! What makes it even more funny is that when you sit back and think about it nothing has changed. Well, okay we’ve moved on a bit as we’re not predicting the exact same things and our predictions are a little more sophisticated (to keep up with the times) but on a general level we’re still forecasting wearable tech – functionality embedded in our clothes through technology.

Google Glass getting fashions stamp of approval at Diane Von Furstenberg Spring 2013 / via Getty

Google Glass getting fashions stamp of approval at Diane Von Furstenberg Spring 2013 / via Getty

Yes, in this video they talk about wearable tech – “an electric belt will adapt the body to climatic changes” and male outfits will be fitted with a phone and radio. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know wearable tech has been a big deal the last few years with everyone predicting it’ll be the next big thing. Now tech giants have entered the arena this “future” may be closer to reality with the launch of Google Glass next year.

So, if wearable tech does take off what will our future be like? Well CNN recently imagined such a thing and after consulting some experts this is how a day in 2015 pans-out.

Ever wanted to know when someone wwas staring at you? Now you can with Ying Gao's two dresses made of photoluminescent thread and eye tracking technology. The dress becomes "alive" when it detects a spectator's gaze.

Ever wanted to know when someone was staring at you? Now you can with Ying Gao’s two dresses made of photoluminescent thread and eye tracking technology. The dress becomes “alive” when it detects a spectator’s gaze.

Dresses Grown Magnetically

Love, love , love these dresses which were created in a collaboration between Dutch designers Iris van Herpen and Jólan van der Wiel! What’s so special about these dresses (and why I love them) is because they were “grown” by magnets.

A model wearing one of the magnetic dresses along with a pair of 3D printed shoes. Image from (http://www.irisvanherpen.com/haute-couture#wilderness-embodied-haute-couture)

A model wearing one of the magnetic dresses along with a pair of 3D printed shoes. Image from http://www.irisvanherpen.com

The dresses are part of Iris van Herpen’s Wilderness Embodied Haute Couture collection and were shown as part of the Autumn Winter 2013 fashion show in Paris earlier this month.

“Iris van Herpen focuses on the forces of nature, with a back and forth between innovation and craftsmanship. Beyond simple visual inspiration, this wonder of the natural world forms the basis of wild experimentation. With the help of artists, scientists and architects, Iris van Herpen explores the intricacies of these forces trough the medium of fashion, and the sensitive poetics that have long characterized her aesthetic vocabulary.Trough her collaboration with artist Jolan van der Wiel, who has spent several years pondering the possibilities of magnetism, they have created dresses whose very forms are generated by the phenomenon of attraction and repulsion.”

Close up of magnetic dress and the protrusions created by the magnetic force.

Close up of magnetic dress and the protrusions created by the magnetic force.

“To do this they manipulated a material made from iron fillings mixed into resin.
This composite material was added to fabric in small sections then pulled by magnets, creating a spiky texture and unique patterns.” You can read more here.

You may be surprised to learn that iron fillings suspended in a carrier fluid are used in car brakes, bridges and other bits of engineering (great little connection between fashion and engineering)! A few years ago I worked on a show about smart materials and magnetorheological fluids featured in it –  Jolan van der Wiel’s material sounds very much like this smart material. You can see the show here.

Male pufferfish display artistic side to create spirograph “love nest”

Now who says pufferfish aren’t artistic?!

“Aesthetics were clearly important. The spirograph pattern was meticulously created and males were observed decorating the peaks with shell and coral fragments. But the design had a practical purpose as well: the male’s swimming pattens stirred up fine sand particles and pushed them toward the middle of the circle, which served as the actual nest.” Read more here

Science History as Art

I’ve been walking along the corridors at HHMI’s Janelia Farm, wondering what lots of the beautiful sci-art pieces were based on (I think many are actually to do with fly brain scans and other neuroscience research since that’s what the facility is known for – such a shame they don’t label any of them).

Mosaic portraits of renowned scientists by Julie Simpson and Frank Midgley.

Mosaic portraits of renowned scientists by Julie Simpson and Frank Midgley.

Anyway, the above series of mosaics caught my eye – they were “assembled from Google search images of key research terms”.  Here is more  on how they were curated.

Crossing the Line: Paintings by Steve Miller

As a biochemistry graduate I spent lots of time learning about ion channels – after all they regulate so much of the chemistry in our body. So, I’m excited to see Steve Miller’s current art exhibition, “Crossing the Line” at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC. Now I’ve relocated from Boston, MA to the DC Metro area this feels like a great way taster for me to check out what’s going on.

Roam Free is one of the paintings that artist Steve Miller

Roam Free (Steve Miller)

Steve Miller’s exhibition is based on the work of Nobel Prize scientist Rod MacKinnon, who specializes in neurobiology carried out ground breaking work in membrane ion channels. Miller’s paintings “juxtapose photographic, drawn, and silk-screened images with excerpts from MacKinnon’s notebooks, Miller’s work dissolves conventional distinctions between text and image to explore what distinguishes art from science.”

The free exhibition is currently on and will continue to run until Jan. 13, 2014. I can’t wait to check it out!

Booming Demand (2012) was made using dispersion and silkscreen enamel on canvas.

Booming Demand (2012) was made using dispersion and silkscreen enamel on canvas (Steve Miller)

Quick update on direction of blog

If you don’t know already I really like the intersection of art, science, culture and fashion. I like modern-day twists as well as historical links. I’m often found sharing tweets on these kinds of topics. Anyway, it is about time I shared more of my interests on this blog, after all it’s why I started it!

So my blog will start taking a different shape (hopefully one that means it’ll be updated more regularly) as I will share things I like in short posts. I will still continue to do long pieces on things that are “one my mind” but as you know I’m pretty rubbish at posting these regularly.

Min x

A Colourful Success in Medicine

I’d like to share this video with you (I love it so much I have posted it twice on my Twitter account, so I have to apologise if you follow me and are fed up with this link).

You may be thinking, “you’re not a surgeon, so why are you so excited by this?”, well although I think Quyen Nguyen is working on a fantastic idea for cancer surgery, my reason for liking this video is more of the historical link between colour and medicine.

I remember when I first learnt about William Perkin in A-Level chemistry and to this day I am still so impressed by how one man’s accidental discovery influenced many facets of our society.

In 1856, the only viable antimalarial drug was quinine, and with its demand beginning to surpass its available supply, an 18-year-old William Perkin set out to try to make it synthetically, using the waste product coal-tar. Perkin’s synthesis didn’t go quite to plan and he was instead left with a black sludge which he later refined into a vivid purple hue. Being the shrewd person he realised its potential as a textile dye and knew not to discard this discovery. He later named this colour mauve and it became known as the first synthetic dye. After patenting his dye Perkin set up a factory in Greenford Green (London, UK) with his father and brother. With Queen Victoria and Empress Eugénie of France seen to endorse the colour, “mauve mania” spread and commercial success was soon achieved.

William Perkin holding a sample of fabric dyed with his chemical discovery: mauve.

William Perkin holding a sample of fabric dyed with his chemical discovery: mauve.

Perkin’s discovery is remarkable not only because it had an impact on fashion and society (working class people could readily afford colourful textiles), it also led to further developments in synthetic colours, playing a huge role in medicine – the staining agent methylene blue was used by Koch to discover the bacilli of tuberculosis and cholera; and (one which I’m sure Perkin himself would be happy about) this same agent was shown by Ehrlich to have antimalarial properties. Perkin’s discovery also created further interest in organic chemistry which is still at the heart of today’s pharmaceutical industry.

The video above is just one example of how synthetic dyes are still playing a role in medicine and biomedical research. I love the back story – after all, who would have ever thought that the advancements in fashion and medicine were so closely linked!