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 this 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.