RESHAPE19 | Cognified matter
Wearable technology category
Posthuman Habitats

Designers: Aroussiak Gabrielian, co-founder Foreground design agency
Collaborator Foreground design agency : Alison Hirsch
Consultant Microgreens Research: Grant Calderwood
Consultant Fashion Design: Irene Tortora
Consultant Rome Sustainable Food Project: Chris Behr

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Posthuman Habitats is a speculative design project that imagines possible futures that integrate, serve, and advance more than just “Us.” It responds to impending food and water scarcity, stresses on energy and water infrastructure, and the nomadic existence that characterizes our age of migration. As a wearable landscape system, it explores the blurred distinctions between nature-culture, human-machine, and celebrates hybrid ecologies and synthetic forms of nature that are representative of our technologically mediated existence.
These habitats are essentially cloaks of plant life intended to provide sustenance to the wearer, as well as flourish as expanding ecosystems that attract and integrate other animal and insect life. The “garden cloaks” are stitched from moisture-retention felt used in fabric-based green wall technology. Though this felt system has been used prolifically to create vertical gardens throughout the world, its potential for garmenting the body and feeding the world’s human and non-human populations has yet to be explored.

With increased awareness about globalized food industries and their unsustainable carbon footprint, we have become focused on reconnecting the food producer and consumer to develop more self-reliant and resilient food networks. Severe drought and diminished soil quality from industrialized farming, as well as sea level rise and climate events will force us to think harder about the future of food production. The microhabitats proposed here allow the urban dweller to live off-the-grid, providing immediate access to “landscape” and sources of food.
The garments promote healthful diet and lifestyle, as they are fed and nourished by bodily wastes, and inspire outdoor exposure to optimize photosynthesis. Humans, while they thrive off the system output areonly one small part of the process that sustains the biodiverse habitats. Because habitats that support unique forms of biodiversity are rapidly disappearing from the earth, these garments become a new “machinic ecology” to which plant and small animal species would adapt.
The garments become a new skin that biosynthesizes the human body into the non-human systems making up the rest of the habitat, integrating all trophic levels or succession of organisms within the food chain. The recycling of wastes is essential to the perpetuation of the habitats which activate the digestive and renal systems of the body (see page 2 of project boards for details).

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The garments can be styled for individual preference and dietary needs. They are propagated to contain different plant communities or plants that grow most healthfully together. The garments are additionally equipped with microsensors that regulate the moisture and nutrient content of the system, and prompt the wearer to go outdoors when additional sunlight is required. The assemblages are not intended to be closed ecosystems but are open to external input and “disturbance,” particularly through pollinators that introduce new species into the garments and create unexpected hybrids. The garments are intended to be optimal habitats for pollinators since these creatures are essential for food production. Cross-pollination sets in motion the hybridization of bodies as well as bodies with the whole environment.
Communal meals require collective harvests and the location of ingredients on bodies of others. The practice of the harvest becomes re-ritualized as a collective act of labor and a celebration of a closer relationship between acts of production and consumption. Yet rather than a nostalgic desire to return to the “natural economies” of preindustrial societies, we speculate on food production in the new planetary landscape of depleted soils and the increasing threat of food insecurity. We collectively ingest this shared harvest – binding us together in a secular act of communion.

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