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A Conversation About Aesthetics with International Fashion Machines' Maggie Orth (16 Aug 2004)
Textiles are one of humanity's oldest technologies, and costuming has always been central to cultural and personal identity. Clothes and accessories mark and communicate our similarities and differences. In terms of social interaction, cross-cultural encounters are both facilitated and constrained by fashion, be it external body modifications like tattoos and piercings, or clothing and accessories like jewellery, bags and - increasingly - technological devices like mobile phones. Social and cultural researchers often approach the question of consumption in capitalist societies as a primary way for people to express and negotiate identity, preferences, and social status. As computing and communication technologies become increasingly mobile, they also become increasingly wearable. That is, we can personalise the looks and sounds of digital devices, and use them as fashion accessories. The practical functionality of these devices is increasingly being augmented by their ability to explore and express our aesthetics and identities. I spoke to Orth in July, 2004 about how mobile and wearable technologies are being used as aesthetic or expressive - rather than purely functional - devices, and what is at stake in these increasingly fluid relations between technology, art, nature, and culture.
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