Fashion Fictions surveys experimental design practices that exist at the intersection of fashion and other modes of cultural production. International in scope, the exhibition explores the increasing influence of research-based, materially driven practices on the global fashion scene, while acknowledging the proliferation of creative practices that challenge the aesthetic, material and technological conventions of fashion. The title of the exhibition is drawn from artist and technologist Julian Bleecker’s influential essay “Design Fiction” (2009) in which he extends the term first coined by critic and theorist Bruce Sterling to argue that the most innovative, transformative work is produced in the spaces between fact and fiction, the present and the near future, and the scientific and the fantastical. All of the designers in Fashion Fictions occupy these liminal spaces, using fashion as a means to unite seemingly disparate sentiments and to propose new possibilities for aesthetics, bodily forms and, more ambitiously, how we exist in the world.
Drawing on various cultural traditions, science fiction, technology, and an interest in the natural world and sustainability, designers invent fashion objects that act as visual manifestations of new realities and celebrations of hybrid identities. Rather than presenting retrofuturist visions that recycle the space age imagery of the 1960s and 70s, these designers are proposing new trajectories and new possibilities for the near future. The exhibition is comprised of three thematic sections: Material Futures, which includes work that features technological and scientific innovations in materials research; Aesthetic Prophesies, which highlights designers’ fusion of cultural traditions with speculative creations; and Responsible Visions, which investigates how designers are incorporating adaptive reuse and upcycling into their explorations.
The content of the exhibition will be activated through a number of collaborations and programs, including a creative research laboratory—conceived and programmed by Material Matters from Emily Carr University of Art + Design—embedded within the exhibition space. This multipurpose lab will function as a workshop, studio space and classroom, showcasing current faculty and student work in process, representative of a local design ethos made up of critical design, critical making and critical inquiry. It will also serve as the site for a diverse array of programs, talks and design charrettes.
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