Research Lab of Ambiguous Futurology

The Research Lab of Ambiguous Futurology creates heirlooms for the future. At the lab, Sasha studies future scenarios and creates wearables in response to those futures. We are living in uncertain times, some might even say, ambiguous times. The Internet of Things is evolving into the Internet of Disposable Things. Our technology is becoming smaller and cheaper to produce. We are creating so much waste, and have no ways of processing it. What is the future we are creating for ourselves?

At the Research Lab of Ambiguous Futurology, we want to create objects for you to preserve for future use. An antique heirloom is traditionally a used object which is preserved to be passed down to future generations to treasure, but its usefulness has typically passed. A future heirloom is an object whose usefulness has not been used up. You preserve your future heirloom for future use. And once it can no longer serve its purpose, it must be repurposed, recycled or revised.

Parfileuse at the Dairy Center

Drizzling, or parfilage, is an 18th century term for the act of unravelling metallic threads, such as lace, embroidery or tassels. These metallic embellishments were made out of a metal thread wound around a silk core. Because they were using pure metal, all of that ornamentation is conductive—meaning it has the ability to conduct electricity. This makes these historic materials very similar to the materials we use today to create soft circuits, and sensors for smart textiles and wearable technology.

A “parfileuse” is a woman who enjoys unwinding wire by wire. Parfilage was a favorite pastime of ladies. It showed off how deft they were with their hands. Ladies would also do it as an act of recycling. They could remove the embellishment from an old dress as a way to reuse the dress, or the embellishment. It was also a way to make money. Ladies would take apart old embellishment to pay for materials for a new dress, or typical living expenses.

For this performance at the Dairy Center, I created an 18th century style garment, embroidered with a 4 channel oscillator. For the performance, I took apart the circuit with a seam ripper and snips in order to perform the circuit.