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9 June 2009

Elliat Rich

My name's Elliat Rich. I work as a designer in Alice Springs. I work at the Centre for Appropriate Technology and also do my own practice on the side. I'm based here in Alice Springs although I do travel to the eastern seaboard and also out bush quite a bit to inform my practice.

In January this year I was a participant in the ANAT wearable technology's lab and we learnt a whole range of new techniques and processes and also was (sic) informed about a whole new set of materials that's (sic) kind of now commercially available to do with responsive kind of garmentry. So that was incredibly exciting, especially coming from Alice Springs which is quite remote, to go there and be immersed in this kind of incredibly kind of cutting edge and really exciting field, yeah, that was really a blast. So the workshop went for three weeks and throughout that period we had a whole lot of input in terms of learning a whole lot of new processes and techniques and also developed, each participant developed a prototype, either on their own or collaboratively.

So I developed a two-way breathing top. The garment has electro-luminescent panels embedded within it and it's breath-responsive, so as you breathe out, the panel lights up, and as you breathe in, the panel fades again. And I was looking at the process of respiration and this fact that every breath you have is a breath that's been through the leaves of a plant so hence the 'two-way breathing' top. So it was really looking at reminding people that, you know, while we're very distracted about other things, we're actually very closely connected to a much greater kind of intricate system.... integrated system.

So the prototype is one that was really just made to test the mechanics of it. So it's got a series of ribs that sits over my ribcage and it's on an elastic, so as I breathe in the ribs, which are made from conductive fabric come apart and break the circuit. And then there's a kind of screen printed electro-luminescent panel here which responds to the switching mechanism, so lights up and fades again. It's quite - it has to be tight-fitted so that the, my breathing is registered with the switching mechanism.

So at the moment I'm taking a prototype to the next stage and developing a much more resolved top, garment. And I'm really looking at how to integrate the electro, electric components into the garment a lot more so that it doesn't look quite so high-tech and cyber. Really the beauty of the new materials is that it can be so heavily integrated that it in essence becomes a little bit invisible and it stops being such a kind of gimmick, novelty and actually starts being something that tells a much kind of more - something that tells a much better story.

And that's my donkey!