29 Sept 2018: Existential Wearables Project Finale

On The Existential Wearables Project

Metaphor of Technology and Performance

With the theme, “what people are going to wear in Tokyo in ten years”, students and those working in varying fields in the society formed three teams and participated in the hackathon. Before the event, sharing of the foundational viewpoints of the project was also held. It was a sharing of a question of the actual being of human life. The hackathon was carried out to find answers to “what is life” and “what is the life form when the concrete bodies are attached with machines in the modern society.”

The products of the teamwork may look crude at the first sight but they are actually suggestive metaphor for future technology. When the prototype was put on the body, we will also realize its performativity. This “performativity” is also a performance of culture, encompassing anthropological insights and artistic expression. In addition, as revealed by performance studies by Richard Schechner and John MacAloon, we can also find the narrativity (self-reflection) and boundary (between daily and non-daily) in this “performativity”.

Life forms and Technology

The products of the teams are as following. Team A conceived a kind of clothes to incorporate in wind. Team B designed a kind of nose device that sells health information from the nasal mucosa. Team C produced a kind of mask that offers the face consolation and defense. They proposed air, mucosa, skin of face as varying types of interface to directly mediate the inside and outside of the life forms.
Incorporating air, the design of Team A aimed at something beyond saving the weight of clothes. The idea was to circulate the win inside of the clothes and the outside environment – a kind of wind that plays with the clothes. The performance also attracted imagination and presented beautifully a life form of circulations across the boundaries of the bodies. Team B revealed a near-future technology. It aimed not at controlling of the health information but was based on a vision that one’s health information can serve as be sold. The performance showed the full energy of agency and a spirit of challenge. Team C pursued a strong wall to cut off the outside environment and the wearer. Their performance shared with the Japanese Noh masks and revealed a sense of tranquility. I can already feel its potential to be used in business scenes.

Task to Cope with or Integrate with Society of Risks

Although the three teams showed their differences in the directions, they vividly reflect the issues of the mega city, Tokyo. We can see the uncertainty and insecurity from the life forms when facing the “society of risks”. According to sociologist, Ulrich Beck, “risk” is different from “danger”. Rather than dangers such as natural disasters, “risks” refer to those due to human actions, for example, environmental issues, nuclear power, manipulation of genes, and abuse of data. The responsible actor is the individuals (This is also called “individualization”.) This is the actuality of “society of risks”. It requires every individual’s to proactively act for social reformation. To realize the real “safety and security”, individual’s participation and social inclusion becomes urgent in our time.

Technology used to control risks to free the life forms from surveillance. Media theorist KITANO Keisuke proposed that “control” should be translated as “manage (kanri)” rather than “control (seigyo)” in Japanese (Kitano, Control and Society or Seigyo to shakai). This kind of “control”, as presented in this hackathon, can be seen as individuals’ control of technology out of awareness to facilitate circulation among inside and out of bodies and proactively “sell” one’s health information. If we “integrate” the designs of the three teams, we can also see a kind of “internal tranquility” sustained in the imagined future. Throughout the process of the performance, image, affection, and unconsciousness without verbalization can also be observed. They managed to be turned into the prototypes under controls. Technology and performance are deeply intertwined. It is this kind of intimate relationship that gave birth to real “safety and security”.

(by: TSUDA Hiroshi)

Event Documentation:

(Photos © Nohara Lab 2018)


チームの成果物は、一見稚拙にみえるが、未来テクノロジーへの示唆的なメタファーであること、またプロトタイプを身につけた瞬間、パーフォーマティヴであることが重要である。後者の「パフォーマティヴである」とは、文化的パフォーマンスである。そこに人類学の見識とアート表現が内在していることはよく知られている。さらには、物語性(自己省察)、境界性(日常と非日常の中間)をしめすことも知られている(パフォーマンス研究、Richard Schechner、John MacAloon)。


3チームはそれぞれ方向性は違う。しかしみな巨大都市東京の課題を反映していないだろうか。とりわけ「リスク社会」と呼ばれる生命体の制御不能への不安が見て取れる。社会学者のベック(Ulrich Beck)によれば、リスクriskは危険dangerとは違う。自然災害のような危険ではなく、環境問題、原発、遺伝子操作、データ乱用などの人為的営為によって起きるもの、それがリスクである。しかも、そのリスクの責任は最終的に個人がとるはめになる(「個人化」と呼ばれる)。これが「リスク社会」である。そのため、個人は積極的にリスク社会の改革行為が求められる。本当の「安心、安全」を実現するには、個人の社会参加、社会包摂が必要となるのが現在であろう。

文章: 津田広志