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Daan Roosegaarde Stirs Big Reactions

Intimacy – the last bastion of privacy. Readers probably see little connection between intimacy and technology.    Japan gave us robotic pets to pat and love – convenient considering the cute specimens neither exercised nor urinated – but add visible female breasts to the concept and one is assured of worldwide media coverage – a lot of it outraged.

By Gabrielle Kennedy / 01-05-2012

Daan Roosegaarde is dedicated to exploring the boundaries of new technologies and how to integrate these into our lives. His projects include light systems that relate to sound and motion and highways that produce energy instead of just lying lazily under the sun and rain. 

For his latest project, Intimacy 2.0 he designed clothes that respond to emotions.  A dress, for example, that becomes transparent when the woman wearing it is emotionally aroused.

This now famous frock is made from electrically-sensitive foils that become opaque or transparent according to alterations in voltage. This means the dresses become transparent when its wearer’s heartbeat increases.  The decision, therefore, to expose one’s breasts is taken out of the head and into the hands of ruthlessly honest fabrics.  Social interactions are forever changed.
Hot or not?

Gizmodo approves: “That means the hotter and heavier you get (figuratively), the more see through the clothes become (literally). This is a good thing.”

“The lazy girl's dating aid: A dress that flirts for you,” concluded Time Magazine.

It’s a fantastically successful project if only because it has ignited a debate about how intimacy and privacy in a high-tech world will change.  It also challenges people to think about the extent to which they will let technology determine social interactions.

Because let’s face it – this all represents a marked loss for personal will, which has historically had the last say in whether to undress or not.
The Times of India asked for responses from Indian actresses and models who preferred an alternative usage for the fabrics.

“I find the dress totally unacceptable. I will never wear it,” said actress Udita Goswami. “In fact, you should make your boyfriend wear it when going out, so you know what's on his mind each time his heartbeat rises!” 

A reader took the idea of Goswami one step further and screamed out on a blog of the Hindustan Times: “All in parliament should wear this! Porno freaks or rapists will become immediately visible!”

Roosegaarde is unfazed.  His point is only ever to use art and design to explore potential and challenge the future, which is exactly what Intimacy 2.0 has done so well.

“I believe in techno-poetry, he explained. “We live in a world which is shifting from analogue to digital, in a world in which technology is playing this huge role in how we see ourselves, how we communicate with our friends, how we experience reality. How can we use this technology as a tool to create new innovations, new social interactions? And what happens when technology jumps out of the computer screen and becomes a part of our body, of our urban landscapes?”

The fashion blog Style on the Couch reminisces about the days of dating and teenage years spent honing one’s skills at manipulating “the other.”

“It’s an interesting thought that human tactics of flirting and attraction – wooing messages, dinner dates and the gift of flowers may become obsolete,” it reads.  “Yet maybe even with these dresses, the art of ‘the gaze’ and love at first sight may [come to] assume greater significance…." 

Lady Gaga and Amber Rose have already placed orders.

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