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Clothing—A Platform For Digital Artwork?

Clothing—A Platform For Digital Artwork?

Ritchie Chan is no stranger to ambitious undertakings. The young owner of Beijing’s coolest concept fashion store Triple-Major (named after the three majors he pursued in college) has conquered fashion and set his sights on the art world. The energetic curator brings art exhibitions into the shop’s gallery space every two weeks and recently invited Shanghai multimedia artist Woog to exhibit his solo show DI DAH DIT DI DI DAH at the Triple-Major shop. Woog presented a series of glitchy digital pieces and visual works, deriving from the concept of the “misplaced.” Inspired by the designs, Chan transfered Woog’s visual patterns onto a limited-edition of Triple-Major T-shirts, turning clothing into a brand new canvas for new media art. We talked with Chan about his understanding of fashion and his insights on the digital world.

The Creators Project: How did you meet Woog and how was this exhibition born?
Richie Chan:
I met Woog when I had a pop-up store in Shanghai and he showed me his digital artwork when he came to Beijing later on. I get all excited whenever I see lo-fi tech stuff, and I was completely intrigued, so that was when the idea of an exhibition came along.

Can you explain the exhibited works? Why did you decide to make your own fashion collection a platform for artwork?
These works are Woog’s interpretation of British artist Stephen Smith’s work, which are digital glitch data visualizations. Woog printed his work on light boxes instead of traditional canvases. Therefore, I figured that clothing could actually be a platform for art works. I designed a series of square shaped T-shirts that are placed [alongside] the light boxes in the exhibition space—it looks like the same work presented in two different ways.

You seem interested in the idea of misplacement and error, can you explain more about that concept?
In a normal person’s mindset, error equals ugliness. They think mistakes are not good—hateful. But errors have their own aesthetics, including computational errors. They can be seen as another kind of natural beauty.

What do you think about fashion as a medium? Do you have concerns about the wearability or the ideas it contains?
I hope fashion can embrace both functions and that is the uniqueness of it. When delivering avant-garde or extremist ideas, it can be both functional and wearable. For example, in the “Large, Medium, Small” shirt series, we magnified the shirt size, the large became extremely large, and small [became] almost the same size as children’s clothing. These are conceptual designs, but they are [still ready for] daily wear as well.

What does the future fashion look like to you?
[Consumers are being given] a bigger role by participating in the design process and part of the clothing’s [function] might be interpreted into the wearer’s everyday life. The boundary between fashion and other mediums like architecture, music, and photography will become vaguer.

Your first collection embraced the concept of video games. This time, you are using digital patterns on your textiles. What is your relationship with the digital world? How does technology influence your life and work?
In fact, I am an outdated person in this sense. I can’t follow the pace of technology’s fast development and I’m not interested in doing so. So when I see low-tech objects, I feel attracted to them, just as a kid feels about ice cream. These retro-tech elements I use in my work and in my shop’s merchandising might come from a nostalgia for the old days.

Speaking with no restriction, what technology do you wish to have in the future?
Teleportation!

Images courtesy of Triple-Major