4.314/4.315 Second Skin / Body Wear: Advanced Workshop in Artistic Practice and Transdisciplinary Research

Ute Meta Bauer

TA Mathew Bunza

This combined hands-on studio/lecture course sets out to explore what kind of second skin would support our bodies in unusual conditions (such as extreme climates, inner and outer-spaces, underwater) through what we wear.

The goal is to develop prototypes of responsive clothing which is transformable and/or multifunctional in order to expand and augment the notion of the boundary between the body and its environment. What kind of sensorium and body extension, for instance, would be required to survive walking through a volcano or to live on a glacier? How are we protected in toxic environments, or massive oil spills?

This class involves experimentation with various materials, including textiles and technologies, with the aim of engaging in solutions for real world scenarios. This class will examine contemporary art and design as a form of knowledge production that integrates a research component and critical reflection. Included will be research, readings, individual and collective projects and presentations supplemented by field trips, film screenings and a lecture series to study the work of artists and designers such as Lucy Orta’s Antarctica Expedition, Jae Rhim Lee’s The Infinity Burial Suit, Moreno Ferrari’s convertible clothing, and others. Films ranging from Western Deep by Steve McQueen, Lessons of Darkness by Werner Herzog, Dark Days by Marc Singer, to classics such as Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea will inspire our discussions. Furthermore, we will investigate research done at MIT such as that of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences; the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies; and the the High-Low Tech Lab of Leah Buechley. Attendance at the Monday night lecture series is mandatory.


  • Prereq: for 4.314: 4.301, 4.302 or permission of instructor Prerequisite for 4.315: Permission of instructor
    Units: 3-3-6
    Lab Fee: 85
  • Notes: 4.314 subject level h / 4.315 subject level hass
  • Credit: can be repeated for credit
  • Schedule: M 2-5p with recitation, M 7-9p E15-070
    Location: e15-283a

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