It has practically nothing to do with the real future

My thoughts on Siki Im’s lecture this past week are decidedly ambivalent. He engages in many intellectual efforts through the process of design. I was struck by his notion of space as multimodal – in a physical sense of presence, in its intangible absence, as an arena for emotion, and in its most abstract philosophical space. How does one go about unfolding the folds (Deleuze) of his lecture? The common thread that I unfolded from his lecture was in the idea of creating resonances between concepts and practices, subject and object, interior and exterior, all the while not claiming to set up a dichotomous relationship or binary. In a sense his design philosophy is about feeding into uncertainty. In his Spring/Summer ’15 collection called Human/Machine he starts by creating patterns from his toy robots, since, as he mentioned in his lecture, he loves robots.

Already one can get a sense of playfulness from Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 6.45.45 PMthis collections inception. However, he problematizes his process by pushing against the contemporary trend of minimalism in design – suggesting that this mode of design for his current project is too ascetic and reminiscent of past visions of the future playing out today, that somehow the hyper-rationality and elimination of the human element belongs to the past’s future (Futurists). The text accompanying Human/Machine on Im’s website quotes Baudrillard’s claim that:

Science fiction has absolutely no prophetic value. It has practically nothing to do with the real future of technological development, for which it accounts in the future perfect tense, drawing for nourishment on sublime archaisms and on a repertory of acquired forms and functions.

Im seeks to inject the humane into the machine to emphasize empathy and play, to bring clothing back to the human body and express its imperfections. Here we can observe the uncertainty mentioned above as well as the resonances between paired concepts. This becomes more obvious in the styling of the models – wearing mismatched shoes or with one rolled up sleeve – seemingly disheveled but in context of the fashion spectacle purposefully and perfectly styled in this conspicuous manner. The tension is created by the artifice of disorganization. The clothing thus becoming a technology in itself and the models body the humane.

2 responses to “It has practically nothing to do with the real future

  1. Dear Derek,

    Given your repeatedly expressed interest in the idea of the Cyborg during Key Concepts last semester, I was curious as to your opinion on Im’s lecture. I found myself at a loss when attempting to process all that Im threw out at us on Wednesday. Mainly, I was confused at the juxtaposition of his non-chalant attitude when presenting the sources of his meaningful inspiration and personal design concept. Thank you for this articulate description of your understanding of Im’s intention and subsequent effect.

    In my recitation section, we discussed the impact Im’s thoroughly thought out design (or better yet ‘life’) philosophy had on the ways in which fashion buyers receive his design aesthetic. A common question that came up was whether or not his dedication to creating an artistic theme of substance – that he then explores through the material medium of clothing – was effectively visibly apparent to an outsider? And secondly, if people ‘just don’t get it,’ does that even matter in this kind of industry? After all, in Im’s own words, fashion is a business in the end.

  2. @michellemcvicker I apologize for not responding to this comment earlier and I appreciate you asking me to elaborate on some of my thoughts. With regards to the cyborg notion running through Siki Im’s latest collection, what I can say is that his use of Deleuze and the fold in his thought process as well as in his design process were very reflective of say Donnna Haraway’s notion of the cyborg metaphorical device in the opening of circuits of information (that somehow the distinction between interior and exterior, subject and object should no longer be given such ontological emphasis). Similarly, I believe that if we think about how truths are not universal and that knowledges must be situated historically and conceptually, I think that the element of the human being brought back to fore in his human-machine is very indicative that we can never know everything and that the human is the epitome of the imperfect machine. There should be some mention of gender here but I’m not quite sure that I know the path to connect those conversations – but I do think that Siki Im’s approach to designing clothing (while designing menswear) is about a conversation of decoupling the clothing object with its stereotypically gendered histories.

    Derek Blair Cooper

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