[ When wear becomes a gesture ]
The initial piece of the Non-linear Wearing Narrative, ‘14 Dresses, 4 Dress,’ illuminated the personal dimension of garment engagement through the lens of individual recollections and experience embedded within the gesture of wearing.
However, this film triggered a cascade of inquiries:
Is the gesture of wearing transcend personal routine and ephemeral performances to evolve into shared practices akin to fashion styling and outfit creation?
Bearing in mind the intrinsically personal characteristics of attire moulded by individual memory and habit, is there scope for the audience to perceive their sartorial behaviour as a practice or compare it with performance?
Comparing the performer’s experience with the audiences, engagement beyond passive observation becomes essential to transform wearing into a shared medium of interaction. For this to be practically significant, a language that could bridge the gap between daily wear and the performative ‘gesture of wearing’ is needed.
This would help interpret the gesture of wearing, an objective that informed the second project, ‘When wear becomes a gesture’, in the series: an exploration of performative wear through performance theory and the development of tools to convert personal experiences into practice.
This film manifests as an archival repository of a performance experiment observing the dynamic alterations of clothing forms and human gestures through the gesture of wearing, based on the elements of Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) performance interpretation.
The performer’s wearing process orbit around LMA’s four foundational principles: Body, Effort, Shape, and Space (BESS).
Each element imposes wear constraints, fostering a more performative and artistic approach. In other words, it amplifies and maximises the visualisation of the interaction between body and clothes.
It offers an interpretive lens elucidating the dialogue and exchange between the wearer and the garment, making the ritual and gesture of wearing observable and analytically accessible.
‘Shape’ challenges the conventional norms of donning and doffing clothing, imposing constraints on the unconscious, habitual interactions of the garment and body in everyday wear, all the while observing how the gesture of wearing adapts and evolves in response to these restrictions, and how the garment and body diversify the gesture of wearing to achieve completion of the act.
By empowering the wearer to underscore their agency within the gesture of wearing, the 'Body' segment invites contemplation on the relationship amongst the wearer, the designer, the garment, and the body. This facilitates the wearer's introspection of their identity as a wearer, and provides a platform to inspect wear from a pragmatic and performative standpoint.
'Effort' theatrically amplifies the less typical elements of the body and clothing that accompany wearing, such as the weight of the garment, the rhythm and speed of wearing, and the overlooked exertion, underlining the performative dimensions of clothing and the body frequently disregarded in fashion discourse.
The concluding segment, 'Space', illuminates the spatial nature of the gesture of wearing, scrutinising both tangible and metaphorical 'spaces' occupied by the gesture of wearing. It places a particular focus on the transformative potential of the wearing, shifting from the mundane to the extraordinary through a heightened awareness of space. It identifies the spheres generated by the symbiotic interaction of clothing and the body, recognising the internal and external spaces constructed by clothing and the body.