Explorations in computer-aided couture

In 2011, I transitioned my painting-only practice into one that would accommodate more materials and more dimensionality. I was curious about garment-making as a means to more directly address some questions I had about the human body as it relates to form, materials and a simple desire just to make things (maybe this is called craft?). Although I didn’t set out to become a fashion designer or to launch a brand, I saw the fashion community as a sort of wild-west field of art and design where there were lots of terrible and amazing things happening all at once, rapidly, and just in time for fall! I also saw plenty of opportunities to integrate digital tools borrowed from architectural research, given the analogous challenge of draping and patternmaking—that is, the leveraging of 2D and 3D processes to arrive at a precise (or precisely imprecise) 3D geometries.

Trained in design but operating as an artist, it’s difficult to completely shake the internal self-talk (and if I’m lucky, critical external talk) that “I’m doing design right now” or “I’m doing art”; and the related but not mutually exclusive mantras of working in 2D or 3D. Crossing disciplines and dimensionality blur depending on my mood and current interests. But on a good day I can just make the work. I like to think that it doesn’t matter so much what I’m making or even why, but how (in what manner), and what is the result?

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Above:Look 1, “Strands”. A maple veneer and leather harness holds a network of strung organza tubes.

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Above:Look 2. A leather structure is clad with strips of translucent PET.

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Above:Look 3. A maple veneer and leather harness holds organza tubes that undulate in, out and around the body.

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Above:Look 4, “Thou shalt not spline”. Curving leather spines are spanned by strips of PTFE.

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Above:Look 5. A leather structure is spanned by strips of white oak veneer.

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Above:Look 6, “Interpolate this”. Continuous lines are drawn up and around the body in leather, supported by nearly invisible PET straps.

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Above:A leather structured skirt and bra is clad with impossibly thin, flexible strips of natural stone.

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Above:Look 8, “Pant”. Organza tubes and translucent PET draw vertical lines up the body to form a bustier-top pant, worn with a sculptural necklace of plywood and acrylic.


In 2018, I orchestrated an experimental event that sought to bring my various interests together in one project titled “Strands”. The show featured a collection of the eight garments shown above, five striped paintings and the premiere performance of “In seconds, then beats: for string quartet”, composed by Morgan Gerstmar and performed by Gerstmar and myself, joined by Molly Germer and Thea Thea Mesirow.

The concept for the event focused on the simple formal element of a stripe, strand or string, which were present in all of the works. The stripe is a formal device that can be easily modulated and cast over planes or sent freewheeling around curves to create and describe volume. A stripe is line that is given surface, material, color and ultimately a vibration. I was hoping that in the presentation of these various works together for the first time, a unifying yet transient, sensorial pitch would emerge: this is my work, art and craft, sound and sight, by necessity, yet completely use-less; asking more than answering or reacting: do others think about their lives, their practices, their desires in this way? From the multiple can we live wholly as one?

The piece was performed just once at 7pm on September 6th, 2018, the first official day of New York Fashion Week. I had intended to include a series of mechatronic lantern sculptures but ultimately decided not to show them that day (have you ever tried to build a robot???). I’m in the process of re-working the lantern design and hope to include them in a later, hopefully longer-lasting installation of this work.

“Strands” performance of “In seconds, then beats”
“Strands” performance of “In seconds, then beats” “Strands” performance of “In seconds, then beats”

Above:Performance of “In seconds, then beats” by Morgan Gerstmar at the “Strands” show. All photos by David Hans Cooke.

Above:Video of performance by Tim Romero.


I would like to thank all of the people I was fortunate to collaborate with on Strands, as I had never planned a fashion show before, let alone considered styling, makeup, hair, casting, pants, exposed breasts, public relations, experimental composition and the surprisingly complex performance of these compositions, motor drivers, studio assistants and many other new subjects and experiences as mediums of expression and control. I am deeply grateful and to all of the talented individuals who believed in the project, stayed up late and helped make it come to life. I’m also grateful to those who were interested enough to come out to the show, to listen and to see. Thank you!

Next project: Paintings