Re/connect : an interdisciplinary exploration of wearable technology in devised theatre

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Weller, Kristen Ann

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How can theatrical costumes help develop a narrative about intimacy in a world that is increasingly detaching from physical contact? My thesis explores this question through interactive costumes and the use of Wearable technology. I created two micro-controlled costumes that employed a variety of proximity sensors and LEDs that light in reaction to the touch and closeness of another person. The costumes are a response to the statement made by MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle: "We're lonely, but afraid of intimacy." The garments were featured in both an interdisciplinary devised theatrical production I helped create, entitled RE/CONNECT, and an interactive educational exhibit, illustrating the importance of physical touch in an increasingly digital age. Only by integrating new and old technologies will theatre remain relevant and funded in a world that is losing interest in physical interaction. Beyond the benefits of study for the production team, the final thesis performance attracted audience members from a wide demographic range, including those outside of the theatrical community with positive results. By incorporating nontraditional technologies in performance, and allowing audience members to experience these technologies firsthand outside of a museum, I have challenged my colleagues in the theatre and sciences to further investigate applications of developing technologies, and put to art and technology in deeper conversation.



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