Named “can’t” and “won’t”, the dresses created by designer and University lecturer Ying Gao ask onlookers to remain emotionless. The dress, designed as an interactive project, begins to move when an onlooker is in the room, but only continues moving if that same onlooker remains stoic.
Gao describes the garments as demanding “a level of humility clearly out of sync with today’s over-the-top expressiveness.” Gao adds that the dresses are “reminiscent of microbial life” and asks the viewer to consider the impact of human behaviour on the environment.
The garments use robotic actuators attached to the fabric that are linked to a facial recognition sensor. Sensing any emotional response shuts off the dress, removing its “life”.
This is not the first time Gao has designed a moving garment. Her past creations include (No)where and (Now)here in which the colours of the dresses would fade as the wearer’s facial expression changed. Another one of her dresses, inspired by the theme of voice-activated uncertainty, has pins that move when the viewer speaks.