Through the case study of Dutch designer Iris van Herpen, this talk by Anneke Smelik looks at the fractal folds in 3D-printed designs. Iris van Herpen's designs maintain their love of complexity by foregrounding the constantly vibrating dynamic of the fold: her dresses ripple, loop, wave, twist, curl and undulate. The fractal folds have been made possible by the technology of 3D printing and by the plasticity of new materials like super-polymers, microfibers, silicone rubbers and nanomaterials. The fluid, flowing, flexible folds of 3D-printed fashion designs reveal a constantly closing in or opening up of the body to the world in a process of continuous becoming.
The process of becoming points to the role of non-human factors, ranging from raw materials to smart materials and from the textility of the garment to the tactility of the human body. Working from a dynamic notion of life in which human bodies, fibres, fabrics, garments and technologies are inextricably entangled, this lecture discusses the notion of transversal agency.
Agency is here understood as both human and non-human, decentring the human subject while embracing the intelligent matter of the human body as well as the materiality of fabrics, clothes and technology. Iris van Herpen's designs can be understood as hybrid assemblages of high-tech fibres, materials, and fabrics that enable engaged and meaningful interconnections with the human body.