Craft Dance Science
Trick Facial Recognition Software into Thinking You’re a Zebra or Giraffe with These Pyschedelic Garments
Here’s some unusual criteria to consider when deciding what to wear: if you’re scanned by facial-recognition software, do you prefer being detected as a zebra, giraffe, or a dog? Cap_able, an Italian fashion-meets-tech startup, prompts consumers to consider individual rights to privacy when making decisions about self-expression. The studio’s inaugural project, the Manifesto Collection, combines knitwear with an algorithm into a kind of 21st-century camouflage that protects the wearer’s biometric data without the need to conceal the face.
Built on ideas of collaboration and awareness, Cap_able was established in 2019 to fuse technology, textiles, and fashion into a high-tech product with everyday applications. Evocative of Magic Eye puzzles, the technology behind the Manifesto Collection‘s psychedelic patterns is an innovative system “capable of transposing images called adversarial patches onto a knitted fabric that can be used to deceive people detectors in real time,” the company says.
“Choosing what to wear is the first act of communication we perform every day. (It’s) a choice that can be the vehicle of our values,” says co-founder and CEO Rachele Didero. Likening the commodification of data to that of oil and its ability to be sold and traded by corporations for enormous sums—often without our knowledge—Didero describes mission of Cap_able as “opening the discussion on the importance of protecting against the misuse of biometric recognition cameras.” When a person dons a sweater, dress, or trousers woven with an adversarial image, their face is no longer detectable, and it tricks the software into categorizing them as an animal rather than a human.
The idea for the startup was planted in 2019 when Didero enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, where she was introduced to topics and issues around privacy and human rights. The idea of combining fashion and computer science evolved during months of research in working with textiles and studying artificial intelligence. She developed the now-patented concept of knitting adversarial imagery directly into the fabric of the garments, giving them the ability to respond to an individual’s size and shape, as opposed to existing versions which could only be applied to surfaces. After developing prototypes and testing the patterns using different types of recognition software, Didero teamed up with business partnert Federica Busani to launch the first collection.
Unlike most clothing items you’ll find on the rack, Cap_able’s garments are accompanied by some unique fine print: “The Manifesto Collection‘s intent is not to create an invisibility cloak, rather, it is to raise awareness and protect the rights of the wearer wherever possible.” See the full collection on Cap_able’s website.
Share this story
Braids and Bowlers: Indigenous Bolivian Women Skateboard in Style in Celia D. Luna’s Empowered Portraits
Against the pastels and earth tones of a skate park in Bolivia, Miami-based photographer Celia D. Luna captures the vibrant energy and determination of women who express solidarity and strength through a love of skateboarding. Part of her series Cholitas Bravas, “Cholitas Skaters” focuses on a group of Indigenous Bolivian women who wear traditional clothes while practicing extreme sports. “I’ve always admired brave women and culture; it’s in my DNA,” she says, describing that her upbringing by a single mother in the Andes Mountains of neighboring Peru instilled an admiration for courage and perseverance.
As recently as the last two decades, Bolivia’s Indigenous Quechua and Aymara women, known derogatorily as “cholitas,” were marginalized and ostracized from society. Distinguished by their long braids, wide skirts, and bowler hats—an amalgamation of styles resulting from Spanish colonizers forcing Indigenous people to adopt European styles during the Inquisition—the style evolved into a symbol-rich, empowered look.
Indigenous Bolivian women were historically banned from entering some public spaces, could not use public transportation, and were burdened by extremely curtailed career opportunities. They have been advocating for their civil rights since the mid-20th century, but it wasn’t until the election of the nation’s first Indigenous president in 2006 that the Cholitas finally achieved some success in restoring their rights, and the pleated skirts, lace blouses, and sombreros prevail as emblems of their cultural roots.
Luna tells Colossal that the women’s choice to don traditional apparel is for “some of them in honor of their ancestors and some of them because that’s what they wear in their everyday life. I was taken by their courage and their love for their culture, and I wanted to capture that.” Her portraits highlight each individual as she skates around the park, gathers together with the group, and poses with her board as she gazes commandingly at the viewer.
“Cholitas Skaters” is one of a trio of sub-series that comprise Cholitas Bravas; the other two chapters focus on female rock climbers and wrestlers. Find more on Luna’s website and Instagram.
Share this story
Discarded Scallop Shells Combine with Recycled Plastics in the Waste-Reducing ‘Shellmet’
The village of Sarufutsu in Hokkaido, Japan, is known for bringing in some of the country’s biggest hauls of scallops. Unfortunately, when the bivalves are processed for the food industry, they generate about 40,000 tons of discarded shells annually. The village teamed up with product design startup Quantum and plastics manufacturer Koushi to tackle the ever-mounting quantities in local landfills. Along came Hotamet—a portmanteau of “hotate” (which means scallop) and “helmet”—alternatively known as Shellmet. The marine-inspired, eco-friendly safety accessory incorporates discarded, crushed scallop shells into a protective covering.
A main component of seashells is calcium carbonate, a compound also found in hard materials like eggshells, pearls, and some rocks and minerals. Combined with recycled plastic, the substance produces a tough material that Quantum and Koushi could form into headgear. “Based on the idea of biomimicry, Shellmet incorporates a special rib structure in its design that mimics the structure of scallops, which are part of the material. As a result, we have achieved a strength approximately 33 percent greater than normal,” Quantum says.
Originally designed as a protective hat for the fishing community, Shellmet will also come in handy when Japan mandates that all bicyclists must wear protective headgear starting in April this year. You can find more information on the company’s website. (via Spoon & Tamago)
Share this story
Mila Textiles Reimagines the Balaclava in Vibrant Beadwork and Embroidered Visages
Masks have long been associated with myriad cultural functions from ceremonial rites and dramatic performances to defense and protection from disease or inclement weather. For London-based designer Kamila, who works under the name Mila Textiles, ski masks—also known as balaclavas—provide a fitting canvas for elaborately embroidered, wearable compositions.
A 19th century military staple, balaclavas saw a sartorial rise in 2021. The practical knitwear item takes its name from the Ukrainian port town of Balaclava, a key battle site during the Crimean War of 1854, and in the 20th century, the garment became a trope in movies and television depicting burglaries and heists. Kamila’s colorful reinterpretation of the mask relaxes these associations. “I want my work to make my audience feel happy, forget about their stresses for a bit, and chill,” she tells Colossal.
Kamila draws inspiration from her local environment, sharing that “living in London means I am constantly surrounded by events, museums, and galleries where I can take pictures of anything that gives me creative ideas.” The vibrant hues and textures of coral and marine life are another influence, especially in the context of cartoons. “I try to include creatures in my designs because this brings comfort to me, almost as cartoons would,” she says. Bright colors are paired with beads and layers of thread to produce playful patterns around the wearer’s eyes.
In addition to balaclavas, Mila Textiles produces meticulously embellished bags and pouches featuring faux fur and patterned fabrics. New items are listed in the shop on her website, and you can follow more of her work on Instagram.
Share this story
Thousands of Used Tea Bags Assemble in Ruby Silvious’s Delicate Full-Size Garments
When we steep a cup of tea, we typically toss out the bag once it has served up its brew, but for Ruby Silvious, this humble sachet provides the basis for a distinctive artistic practice. Known for her miniature paintings that use tea bags as canvases, she has expanded her use of the material by employing it as a fabric for larger-scale works that are inspired by her family history and an interest in fashion. “It gives me a chance to do large scale work, the antithesis to my miniature paintings,” she tells Colossal. “It’s only natural that my art has always been inspired by fashion. My maternal grandmother was a brilliant seamstress. I was only 20 years old when I migrated to the U.S. from the Philippines, and my very first job was at Bergdorff Goodman in New York City.”
Silvious began making garments in 2015, spurred by an ongoing fascination with the various methods of printing, staining, and assembling the deconstructed segments together. “I have accumulated bins of used tea bags,” she says, “not just from my own consumption but also from friends and family who have generously contributed to my growing collection.” She has made more than ten full-size kimonos, each requiring up to 800 used bags to complete. Pieces in her most recent series, Dressed to a Tea, average approximately 75 to 125 sachets, each one emptied out, flattened, and ironed before being glued together into shirts, slips, or child-size dresses. “Some tea bag pieces have monoprints on them, and the simpler designs are assembled with plain or slightly stained, used tea bags, giving them a more delicate and fragile look,” she explains.
A number of pieces from Dressed to a Tea will be on view in a weeklong exhibition at Ceres Gallery in New York from December 5 to 10. Her work will also be featured in a solo exhibit at the Ostfriedsisches Teemuseum in Norden, Germany, from March 4 to April 29, 2023. You can find more of Silvious’s work on her website and Instagram.
Share this story
Mysterious Creatures Emerge from Recycled Materials in Sculptures by Spencer Hansen
Long-legged creatures don otherwordly masks in sculptures by Bali-based artist Spencer Hansen, whose work explores identity and connection through a cast of uncanny characters. Using primarily natural, found, and recycled materials like wood, metal, bone, plant fibers, and ceramic, he draws inspiration from surrounding environment and frequent travels. Originally from Idaho, he relocated to Bali where he built a workshop that houses studios and live-work space for a team of skilled artisans who help to bring the pieces to life.
Alongside business partner Shayne Maratea, with whom he founded independent clothing and art company BLAMO, Hansen often collaborates with artists and photographers to merge sculpture and performance. Intended to inspire curiosity and play, the characters are carved and assembled in a variety of scales, from toy-like figurines to life-size suits, with mysterious faces.
Hansen will be showing work with Skye Gallery at Aqua Art Miami at the end of this month and has a solo exhibition opening in December at Samuel Lynne Galleries in Dallas. You can find more of his work on his website and Instagram.
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.