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Toward Interactive Sonic Narrative Streetwear to Support Urban Community-Based Amplification of Space, Place, & Belonging
Awarded Research Grant to Launch Sonic Storytelling Streetwear Project
I am pleased to share that I am an awardee of the 2022 Urban@UW Research Spark Grant. Urban@UW is an initiative at the University of Washington (UW) to support collaborative research-to-practice efforts that address today’s urban challenges. My proposal asks the central question: how might interactive sonic narrative streetwear support urban community-based amplification of space, place, and belonging? To investigate this question, I will be working with community partners: The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, Be:Seattle, Heisel Design Lab for Fashion Technology, Rolla Renters Association, and Washington Community Action Network.
About the Project:
Streetwear—hats, hoodies, graphic tees, sneakers, and the like—is a style that was born in cities as a mode of storytelling and rebelling against the inaccessibility of formalwear. Having an intimate relationship and history with music, streetwear is largely based on Hip Hop and Punk music albums that tell stories. Yet streetwear does not technically connect to sound. Threading the two mediums together, however, presents opportunities to weave ways of transmitting powerful lyrical messages.
In interweaving textiles and songs to amplify marginalized voices, we will investigate how connecting streetwear to interactive sonic narratives can expand community-based storytelling practices as well as motivate listening with the emotional captivation of music. To explore this potential for interactive sonic narrative garments, we will practice community-based design: a planned method of social change rooted in the social science tradition of community-based participatory research. In turn, we will uncover how sonic storytelling streetwear can benefit and contribute to community knowledge. We will also devise a plan to disseminate the media whether it is through an exhibition, merchandising, or other channels, and discuss design considerations around accessibility, language justice, and sustainability.
This forthcoming work primarily builds upon my prior exploratory design inquiry, Airbrush Hyperfabric: Designing Interactive Storytelling Fabric Connected to Motion Graphics and Music. That project investigated how the mass-production and cultural appropriation of streetwear contributed to the erasure of its socioeconomic and racial origins, finding that "enhancing the expressivity and sensory experience of fabric through interactive narrative suggests a promising opportunity to put storytelling power back into the hands of the creative counterculture." Thus, with this grant, I will be thoroughly exploring this opportunity. More information on the proposal and the official UW Human Centered Design & Engineering press release can be found here.
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