motor booty affair


For our project, we had in mind to construct a dress which could display information about women’s conditions throughout history. The way we decided to approach it was to have a layer inside the dress on which is printed male and female genitals move across slits on the top layer. By moving across these windows, different parts of the images become masked making visible only one gender at a time at each extreme. By using these extremes as the minimum and maximum values we could represent data in time just as if it were coming from a graph.

The dress is constructed with a few different layers. The base layer is made from rigid canvas reinforced with a rim as to hold its shape better. The top layer, on which the slits are cuts, is made from white fake ostrich leather because its texture is reminiscent of skin. In between these two layers is the image which is printed of regular photo paper.

Now, working with soft materials is quite challenging. After we finished making the dress and started testing the moving mechanism we realized our design wasn’t exactly right for what we had in mind and that it was unfortunately impossible to implement it differently in the time we had. We decided to at least present a video which would show the concept we initially had in mind.

The movement of the image layer was supposed to be made by two little servo motors pushing and pulling metal wires across the circumference of the dress. This was really tricky to do for a few different reasons. The base canvas layers developed some creases near the rim, enough to hinder the movement of the image layer. The first motors we used were also not powerful enough and lacked traveling motion. We tried a few different alternatives but even then, the movement was very minimal. For the best results we also needed to have a stable surface on which to attach the mechanism, including the motors, which is not easy to do on fabric. The fact that the dress is conical makes it even harder to obtain a smooth even lateral movement of the image layer.

Even though we could not fully implement the concept we had in mind, we learned a lot about how to approach soft materials differently than hard surfaces and what their limitations are when it comes to embedding electronics. The short deadline for this project did not provide us with enough time to prototype the project enough and adapt our design in consequence. Everything worked on its own, but putting the whole thing together brought up many different issues that we didn’t expect. Hopefully next time won’t be a total failure.

Link to our project pageCode