Emotion and Memory: Clothing the Body as Performance

In: Activating the Inanimate: Visual Vocabularies of Performance Practice

This chapter focuses on costume/clothing as scenography and explores, through practice in a new body of work, the clothed body as a site for production of meaning, performance and communication. It exposes the role of costume design as a generator of performance through design. My current work explores the potential for using embodied experience, emotional and physical triggers in garment design and embodied communication. The project draws on psychology, oral histories and seeks to engage viewers and wearers on an emotional level. This new design work builds upon aspects of my completed doctoral research which identified that the intersections of subject disciplines are increasingly complex and new interdisciplinary ways of working have emerged, challenging preconceptions and rigid definitions. This chapter focuses on a range of current preoccupations within my research and in relation to research in the fields of performance, costume, fashion design and fashion communication. As performance and experimental fashion practice both increasingly move into new and site-specific contexts and as focus is extended around audience reception, conceptual and experimental approaches, the divisions between clothing designed as conceptual fashion and clothing designed as costume for performance have become less clear. What is notable in both disciplines is the use of the body as a catalyst and space for creation and communication of meaning through the performing body. It focuses on the clothed body as a site for production of meaning, performance and communication, exposing the role of clothing design as a generator of performance and communication through design. By placing costume/clothing at the centre of this debate I have taken into account how the emotional and physical factors as well as the site of the body itself contributes to the making, intention and reading of work in the context of hybrid fashion, clothing and performance practice within a contemporary context.


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