THING-OBJECT 1 | ODRADEK

2018

3D PRINTED FACE MASK

'Odradek' is a strange creature who outlives the narrator in Franz Kafka's tale The Cares of a Family Man (1995). The fear of being outlived by a non-human entity thus becomes a creative device to think a world inaccessible and devoid of human thought. 'Odradek' is a symbol, a strange totem of the agitation caused by the thought of human extinction as its relationship with the narrator is synonymous to our relationship with the Anthropocene. At the very core of the Anthropocene, is a glimpse of a future in which the human subject, similar to the narrator in Kafka's tale, cedes its sovereignty in the face of an abstract reality. 

 

'Thing-Object 1' addresses the following questions: how can we think and narrate a non-anthropocentric narrative or fictive thought? How can we mould, compute and design fashion through the contingencies of the Anthropocene? In response to these questions, the research explores and materialises 'Odradek' through a xeno-design search-space. This is a search space that explores the generative capacity of Odradek's morphology as a means to design and compute new aesthetic imaginaries. The resulting process presents a digitally fabricated fashion mask captured through agent-based simulation. The generated mask inverts boundaries between interiority and exteriority by harnessing elements of uncertainty and decay as key design materials. Alongside this, the work presents a series of LiDAR-retrieved data visualisations of the researcher's body while wearing the mask. A reframing of our bodily perception is proposed using LiDAR to dematerialise the physicality of the fashioned body from preconceived attachments, norms and forms.

 

The theoretical framework underpinning this research-by-(fashion)-design practice comes from Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO), in particular, Morton's concept of hyperobjects (2013) --things of scale and temporality beyond human comprehension. Odradek, behaves like hyperobjects: it exists somewhere on the fringes between fiction and reality, around the edges of our perception. No longer existing in the form of a textual creature, 'Odradek' crawls from its tangled knots and threads onto the present every now and then. As a 'Thing-Object', the generated mask is the face of hyperobjects, it creates a material condition for fracturing notions of the self through an aesthetic encounter to conceive the notion of what survives us-- to imagine a world after the Anthropocene. While the generated LiDAR visualisations echoes over the philosophical ruminations on human existence, of what lies beyond the knowable.

Below are the documentation processes of the design journey. The animation showcases the simulation possibilities of generating forms for the mask, observed under different rendering conditions. The following images display a series of diagrams that captures simulation as a searching-space for xeno-forms, including a close up shot of the digitally fabricated material experiments. 

LiDAR fashion visualisations in collaboration with Architecture researcher Asad Khan. The LiDAR retrieved scans were produced using reflective surfaces and body movements to create moments of dispersion, ambiguity and distortions, where the body appears as unstable and mutable.