Fashion, the body and technology : tracing early 20th century techno-utopian ideas, aesthetics and impulses in 21st century wearable technology

King, Madeleine Frances (2011) Fashion, the body and technology : tracing early 20th century techno-utopian ideas, aesthetics and impulses in 21st century wearable technology. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


‘Wearable technology’, or the use of specialist technology in garments, is promoted by the electronics industry as the next frontier of fashion. However the story of wearable technology’s relationship with fashion begins neither with the development of miniaturised computers in the 1970s nor with sophisticated ‘smart textiles’ of the twenty-first century, despite what much of the rhetoric suggests. This study examines wearable technology against a longer history of fashion, highlighted by the influential techno-sartorial experiments of a group of early twentieth century avant-gardes including Italian Futurists Giacomo Balla and F.T. Marinetti, Russian Constructivists Varvara Stepanova and Liubov Popova, and Paris-based Cubist, Sonia Delaunay.

Through the interdisciplinary framework of fashion studies, the thesis provides a fuller picture of wearable technology framed by the idea of utopia. Using comparative analysis, and applying the theoretical formulations of Fredric Jameson, Louis Marin and Michael Carter, the thesis traces the appearance of three techno-utopian themes from their origins in the machine age experiments of Balla, Marinetti, Stepanova, Popova and Delaunay to their twenty-first century reappearance in a dozen wearable technology projects. By exploring the central thesis that contemporary wearable technology resurrects the techno-utopian ideas and expressions of the early twentieth century, the study concludes that the abiding utopian impetus to embed technology in the aesthetics (prints, silhouettes, and fabrication) and functionality of fashion is to unify subject, society and environment under a totalising technological order.

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ID Code: 50948
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Horton, Kathleen & Pedersen, Courtney
Keywords: wearable technology, fashion, the body, technology, utopia, techno-utopia, machine aesthetics, the cyborg
Divisions: Past > Disciplines > Fashion
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 18 Jun 2012 00:54
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2012 00:54

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