Hearing is Seeing

Working with the brief of technology as an extension of human capability, the team found an opportunity space in advancing the human auditory system. Hearing is quite passive as humans cannot control this sense. It also plays a large role in mental attention and focus. The ability to control hearing directionally and radially could be a valuable sensory modality in a present and future world saturated with techie interactions.

The team’s conceptual prototypes aim to convey this idea through two versions of a futuristic scenario. Brainstorming lead us to images of bat ears, nautilus shells, paper lanterns, and high collars. Material construction of the two costumes included paper fans, lanterns, wire, plasticized fabric, delicate laser-cut fabric, recycled hard disks, and some hand sewing techniques.

The images seen here convey two characters. First, the round hooded costume represents head space that can be fully or partially opened or closed depending on the person’s desired sound inputs from immediate surroundings. Thin grey fabric with a laser-cut perforation pattern is draped and tucked to stretch and reveal the underlying rigid fabric patterned with abstract cloud imagery. The recycled computer hard-disks and rigid wire worn as a belt represent both the constricting and enabling nature of technology in our lives.

In the second costume, the full body pink suit represents both the delicate and powerful role of soft tissue in the auditory system. The white tissue paper fans are constructed of gently divided spaces. They convey her ability to block off sound from the left and/or right, enabling forward oriented focus. The tissue paper cones convey a desire for facilitating pinpoint directional hearing. The paper head mask mimics the right and left cranial lobes with openings around the ears, drawing importance to the sense of hearing.