These past few weeks I've been pretty busy - I'm nearly done with my depression suit, although I still have to figure out the details for it like a collar and wrist and ankle cuffs. I'm hoping to post the full process sometime soon (Next week? Fingers crossed!).
I've met with some wonderful people today, Danny and Cathy Gott, to talk about autism and meet some people at Danny's Farm, a farm type setting in Pasadena for people with developmental disabilities (here's the website if you're curious: http://dannysfarm.org/). I've been reading various sources on autism lately, including books by Temple Grandin, but its nice to be able to talk to people who actually have autism to get their perspective. I'll be using what I learned as inspiration for my next outfit, an autism dress that I hope will be a good teaching tool for someone who has no idea what it might be like to have autism.
Lastly, I've ordered lots of electronics, conductive fabrics and arduinos from SparkFun, a company in Boulder CO that does awesome tutorials on e-textiles (the new combo field of electronics and fabrics/clothes) as well as stocking a huge range of products and kits to get started. I'll be using these to make neuron shirts (switching from the neuron bodysuit idea) so I'm excited for when they get here. This will probably be a simple design, less of a serious teaching tool than the other two outfits. Here's SparkFun's website: https://www.sparkfun.com/static/about. They are well worth browsing around, especially the tutorials section.
That's all for now. I've been trying to come up with new dress designs and I think I may have to switch to four instead of five full outfits. I'm stuck between a dress on synesthesia, and another one for autism... depending on how well received my idea of an autism dress is received by the Autism Societies in LA.
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
So even though this blog will be a project blog, I also want to talk a little bit about the basis for my designs. So if you’re curious about clothing details this post won’t be what you’re looking for.
Right now I am making a suit that will hopefully mimic how depression feels. For me, this is making something that makes the wearer feel isolated from the world, like they can't hear or see things clearly. It means making the wearer feel heavy, and drained of energy to complete simple tasks. It means making them feel numb, so that they have a hard time feeling strongly about anything. I know these aren't perfect representations of everyone's depression, but I thought these concepts captured some of the hardest to explain parts of the disorder. I wanted to make this suit because I know that for people who haven’t had someone close to them go through depression, or haven’t felt it themselves, the disorder is like a foreign elephant in the room. Unknown, confusing, and hard to bring up.
People don’t like to talk about it, because depression is an illness that we easily trivialize. How could we not, when we use the same word to describe the feeling an 11 year old has when it rains on his birthday party as the feeling someone has right before they commit suicide. (That comparison was roughly paraphrased from this TED talk, which has a much more eloquent description of what it's like to have depression: http://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_solomon_depression_the_secret_we_share)
The inability to speak up is crippling, because its the first step to getting help. So I wanted to make this suit. Maybe it’s a little ambitious, but I hope that someone who thinks depression is nothing more than a case of the blues would be able to put this suit on and be able to feel what it might be like to be sick with sadness. I want this suit will help those skeptical of depression empathize with someone who can’t turn their sadness off like a light switch. I want someone wearing this suit to realize that depression is more than being sad, or lost, or frustrated, or empty, or catatonic all the time. It’s also about the way that person is perceived by those looking at them - like wearing a strange suit and feeling that you don’t fit in.