Folks at XSLabs just posted the above video of their Leeches electronic dress. Leeches is essentially a dress that can be configured with modular electronic components that light up. To me, the dress seems to be more of a materials study on how to create modular components that be attached and removed from a wearable dress. The dress uses metallic silk organza (which is conductive) as the conductive traces and magnetic snaps as the the mechanical and electronic connection points. The electronic modules are embedded in silicone. Conceptually, the project “raise[s] specific questions regarding our increasing need for power electric energy in order to feed the electronic devices that we wear on our bodies and will soon be integrating into our electronic garments.” The red LEDs are suppose to resemble “power-hungry creatures that, once attached, suck or draw power (the metaphoric “blood”) from your body and reference the potential dangers of electromagnetic fields emanating from electronic garments. “
Why is this important? I believe it’s important to raise ecological and cultural questions with conceptual projects. We do need more projects that critically examine and question how wearable technologies will impact our culture and lives. Unfortunately, I don’t feel that the Leeches project successfully accomplishes this. I mainly attribute this to the lack of behavior in the electronic modules. Having only an “on” state, the LED modules lack any behavior that would have them resemble “power hungry creatures.” Even a simple behavior of them become brighter and brighter as they are being “fed” from the dress would give them a more animate quality. What do you think?