Director Alexa Karolinski dreams up a humorous vision of the role wearable technology might play in our future daily lives.
Whether smart watch or fitness tracking device – when we think about wearable technology today, we tend to get lost in each gadget’s specific functionalities and stick to the realms of wellness and aspiration. But what’s next? What could wearable design mean for our daily lives, communications and social interactions? It’s a question our short film “Alter Ego” explores. The film follows Annabelle, a young but slightly lost millennial, through her day in New York City. It all starts when a mysterious package arrives on her doorstep, containing a “magic” bra: once she puts on the garment, a mysterious voice appears – a voice that seems to know more about Annabelle, her body and sometimes even her feelings than the girl herself. In the end, our protagonist encounters a fabulous older lady who seems strangely familiar ...
A talking bra? Not so far-fetched, according to Prof. Sabine Seymour.
The inspiration for the video’s futuristic story is based in hard science: Prof. Sabine Seymour is a researcher and serial entrepreneur who teaches at Parsons School of Design in New York and works on the intersection of fashion and technology. With her start-up SUPA, she turns wearables into “disappearables” – SUPA is an artificial intelligence that gathers its insights from SUPA sensors embedded in fabrics – fabrics you can wash and wear every day, just like any other piece of clothing. At the same time, these clothes can tell you more about the state of your body and even how the environment influences your performance.
Seymour’s first product, the bra depicted in our video, measures biometrics like heart rate. And while we might consider a bra that “knows”, “understands” and dispenses advice to its owner the stuff of science fiction, it’s not an unrealistic scenario, according to the professor who already works on shaping our “alter egos.”
To find out more about Sabine and the research that took her from downtown New York to NASA, check out Part 2 of our story here.
The director: Berlin-born and L.A.-based artist Alexa Karolinski
Alexa Karolinski’s imaginative fashion films for avant-garde brands like Eckhaus Latta, Maryam Nassir Zadeh or Uslu Airlines as well as her sensitive documentary Oma und Bella show the broad creative range of her work.
What interested you in the initial idea of the video?
I was fascinated with the idea of a bra that gives life advice. Wearable technology is in its infancy. It’s inspiring to me how people who work in tech look at the world through its potential rather that just what the present holds. It was in this spirit that we made this video. Plus, the fact that we got to work with an inspiring woman like Joyce Carpati, someone with so much life experience, felt very real to me. The future is often portrayed as somewhat dystopian. We were able to take a fairy tale approach and listen to someone who has lived on this planet much longer than we have. That connects to my views about the present and future – that we need to look to the past for guidance.
What was important during script development and filming?
For the script I worked with Emily Rappaport, an uber-talented young writer in L.A. who shares similar sensibilities – not just in films but in her approach to other humans and life. I feel very lucky to have met her now, because I am convinced that she will have her own TV show in a couple of years and this will go into her memory as part of her beginning.
What’s the take away you want to convey to the viewer?
That sometimes it is good to listen and check in with the world. I need to remind myself of that all the time. We’re living in weird times. We need to look at the Joyce Carpatis of this world and learn whatever we can. Also … Annabelle Dexter-Jones is beautiful and funny and I cannot wait to see more. FYI: her film “Cecile on the Phone” is playing at Sundance 2017! I feel incredibly honoured to have worked with her and all the other great people involved.