News from the Textile and Design Lab at the Auckland University of Technology.


Knit in performance
Zahra Killeen-Chance graduated from AUT in 2015 with a Masters of Performance and Media Arts degree and has continued working on a range of seamless knitted dance costumes with the lab’s co-Director, Mandy Smith, Rachelle Moore from the Fashion and Textile Department and the Textile and Design Lab’s Senior Technician, Gordon Fraser. The dance costumes have been used for performances in 2015 and 2016 in a variety of venues including the AUT campus, New Zealand art galleries and the Oceanic Performance Biennial held in Rarotonga in July last year. 
Zahra describes herself as ‘an interdisciplinary performance artist who works with sound, video, movement and costume. My choreographic exploration directs the audience towards ambiguous plays of relation within the embodied, sensory encounter of performance.  I negotiate between the seen and unseen body, becoming neither one nor the other.’  The costumes integrate design responses to the requirements of each performance utilising the lab’s Shima Seiki Wholegarment® technology to create singular knitted costumes.

Zahra’s costumes take to the floor at Bowerbank Ninow (left) and at the Oceanic Performance Biennial 2015 Rarotonga at Te Vara Nui (right)
World of Wearable Arts beckons for Creative Technology students

The Textile and Design Lab has been working with student groups from the new Bachelor of Technologies studio paper 'Digital Skins'.  The paper, led by TDL/Colab PhD researchers Miranda Smitheram and Donna Cleveland responded to theories of embodiment and post humanism, developing performative costumes that incorporate wearable technologies.  Students utilised the lab’s resources in innovative ways, from digital printing, developing soft electronic circuits, fusing conductive material and even heat setting origami pleats!

Two of the groups were accepted into the World of Wearable Arts through the pre-selection stage.  Both teams have created costumes for the Performance Art section - The Greatest Show on Earth. Students Lara Galea, Katriel Worrall and Sophie McIntyre created 'Darling', a vulnerable, fleshy, ashamed circus freak of the future.  While humans have become genetically perfect, Darling remains physical and imperfect.  This is emphasized by Darling’s digitally printed skin, making her a sight to behold.  When she slouches and rests her hands on her knees, the mechanical lesions covering her body pulsate, expressing discomfort towards her exploitation.
The second group consisting of Claudine Nalesu, Harriet Johnson, and Yu Yu Shwe created 'The Colourless Clown'.  In their interpretation of the future, it’s 2084 and the air is toxic. To adapt, the human race evolved their lungs in order to breathe.  However, The Colourless Clown did not evolve: to survive she must wear these giant pom-pom air filters.  In heavily polluted areas she touches her conductive ‘lungs’, triggering them to light up and add more power to the filtration system.  Best of luck to the groups!
Costumes created by Creative Technology students for the ‘Digital Skins’ project:
Darling (left) and The Colourless Clown (right)
Coarse wool based projects
The lab is embarking on a range of wool based projects with a view to developing innovative applications for knitted and felted coarse wool materials and products.  The vast majority of New Zealand’s wool clip is of medium – coarse micron fibre, which means that it cannot be used for next-to-skin apparel.  Typically, our wool is exported in its raw (greasy) state for converting into products including carpets and rugs overseas, resulting in no added value for the local economy.  The lab is interested in collaborating with research staff, students and commercial partners on projects for non-conventional applications for coarse wool.
Digital printing update
Fabrics for digital printing stocked by the lab have been reviewed with the addition of a new cotton/Lycra knit and a woven cotton voile being added to the range.  New price lists are now available – please email for your copy.  The lab has also acquired a new Steam Jet fixation machine that will allow longer length prints to be processed, potentially up to 10 metres per printed piece.
Short course and workshop programme
The Textile and Design Lab’s short course and workshop programme resumes at the end of August.  Subjects covered include Machine Felting, Digital Textile Design, E-Textiles and Soft Circuit Design, Knitwear Design and Textile Knowledge.  Full details can be viewed here.
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