Design Boom

Alex Dodge: Generative

By Andrea DB

July 2010

the interests of new york-based artist alex dodge extends into the relationships between humanity, technology, art and design, in which he has designed a collection of garments of concept prototypes developed in collaboration with brooklyn-based tech start-up generative. each of the works address the notion of passive interfacing; engaging the human body through acquiescent means. some of the pieces seem to be influenced
by science fiction while others are more accessibly clear-cut. the prototypes developed by dodge himself, range in their levels of functionality, but are presented here as art objects and design objects on equal standing. while dodge may focus on creating mass-manufacturable products, envisioning that they bring people one step closer to a utopian ideal, dodge's objects fetishize the technological imperative, or the inevitable hybridization of man and machine, as something worthy of appreciation in itself.
 
the 'sleep talker' dream interface is an experimental prototype offering a means for two or users to interact with each other while in similar sleep states, or as a means of broadcasting one's unconscious experience within a specialized social network. the device monitors the user's brainwaves, heartbeat and environmental audio. once connected to a PC the 'sleep talker' client software identifies the user's dormant state
using the electrodes embedded in the sleep cap. when the software detects synchronous or compatible dream sleep it attempts to pair with either a predesignated user over the internet or automatically to an available user with the sleep talker social network. in group mode, multiple users can form dream clusters defined by specific criteria
or a single user can designate their feed as broadcast-only for others to listen to. the various data feeds, including EEG, pulse, galvanic skin response and audio (in the form of actual 'sleep talking' or environmental sound) are modulated into a real time audio visual feed and played back via the integrated headphones and sleep mask, forming a reciprocal link or 'dialog' between the users.
 
this social network is loosely based on conventional social networking models, can also be observed by the wakeful in a passive / interpretive mode wherein multiple dream feeds can be viewed in real time offering a new social analytical tool with such features as geographic and signal filtering as well as speech to text searchability. as with most existing
social network sites, the users in the sleep talker social network can set their personal privacy level as desired.
 
taking the form of a light, cross-seasonal jacket, this wearable interface prototype
explores the possibilities of embedding various mobile technologies in a wearable garment.
within the jacket are multiple adaptable standard USB ports, GPS, accelerometers, microphones,
temperature and photo sensors, the garments on-board processor can be trained and programmed
to interact with a range of other devices.
 
while most current smart phones offer similar modes of input the generative wearable interface is intended as an always-on constant-feed device that can react to each user's unique actions and environment in real time, detecting useful patterns and conditions over time. 
 
the 'power step' shoe employs an encapsulated piezoelectric ceramic that produces electric potential during applied mechanical stress. the cast silicone sole allows a maximum range of flexibility for the encased piezoelectric while offering utmost comfort to the wearer. the energy produced by each step is collected and stored in a removable power-cell in the shoe's heel. the energy collected can later be used to power other mobile devices. this initial prototype designed for generative explores new ways of making shoes that convert mechanical energy into stored electrical energy both practical and stylistically functional, building upon substantial research done by thad starner and others at MIT in the mid 90s, among others.