Wynnie Chung and Emily Ip: WO.DEFY: Defying Expectations

School of Interactive Arts + Technology

Wo.Defy is an interactive kinetic garment that explores a suffragette cultural critique of the “Self-Combing Sisters”, a group of women in early 20th century Chinese society, who challenged and questioned the role of womenís agency, including marital, economic and cultural choice that wedded the values of sexual independence in balance with cultural inter-dependence. Inspired by their determination and stance toward self-advocacy and self-sufficiency, Wo.Defy investigates the notion of intrapersonal ambivalence resulting from cultural tensions that emerge when new believes confront thousand-year-old traditions and presents a wearable narrative that encapsulates unspoken strengths and challenges of the Self-Combing Sisters. The design and construction of the Wo.Defy interactive garment reinforces a cultural history of women’s intrapersonal struggles through poetic visual representations and physical kinetic “contractions” based on the wearer’s physiological breathing patterns and kinetic sensor motions. Silk fibers and human hair are used as anthropomorphic materials that afford the wearer’s familiarity with their bodily contact with the garment. Wo.Defy creates a palpable reflective space for connection and conversation with the public. Explored through elements of self-connection, intimacy, and self-reflection, the interplay of fabrics, micro-controllers, and sensors kinetically contract (or withhold) the self and display (or reveal) the self. Wo.defy reveals subjective and vulnerable data through the control of the wearer, contributing to a richer understanding of self as resistance. Wo.Defy establishes a critical reflection through wearable technology in the context of historical resistance practices.