Group Conversation - Anna and Hannah


I contacted Anna to talk with her about her idea for living clothing and we met up on Sunday 3/4/12. We talked in depth about the concept of nature and life, and the human's role and our part in it and how we humans have felt the need to leave a mark and dominate nature. This planet isn't even ours, really; Anna and I agreed that the body is more like a loan - we get to borrow it for our lifetime, then it goes back to the earth once we die. From this we bridged off and talked a lot about Jane Blocker's work and the gender identity through art and nature and I mentioned to Anna the concept that I've learned in multiple art and theatre courses that the female or the feminine is generally associated with nature while the masculine is associated with culture. From these ideas we talked about multiple concepts; here are the main ideas we thought about:

Key concepts of our discussion:
- Interactions with Nature
- living with nature rather than dominating it
- Gender Identity and Representation - the masculine is to the feminine as culture is to nature
- Disintegration/non-permanence - leaving marks that aren't damaging to the earth but exist with it then disintegrate with time naturally (ex: prayer flags)
- Life vs. death - when we die, our bodies aren't ours anymore yet we use them to live.
- Biomimicry - designs based off nature's designs
- Why it's okay to grow a plant but not an animal, or a human - where is the ethical boundary (gray area)
- The entire Earth is a biological body
- Plants vs. Animals on clothing - and the ethics behind growing a plant vs. creating a living animal

We decided it would be interesting to challenge gender identity through her idea of living clothing - and see about creating a nature suit for men to see if it is even possible to dismantle gender identity that is ascribed to the body based on its appearance. From our discussion, the idea of a death suit also came up with the mentioning of a death room by Nels from the class conversation last Tuesday. We talked about me being an assistant for her while she led the way in terms of the project itself which goes along the following lines:

Concept Sketch: Anna wants to create one or a few small models to begin with that are miniature, living clothes (plants) out of lichen and moss. If the idea works, then we may pursue looking at a larger scale thing but we mainly want to challenge the idea of gender and ask the following questions: If we make a male suit that is made out of living organisms, does he become feminized or does Nature (the clothing) become masculine-ized, or is gender eliminated (can art even eliminate gender to begin with)? In addition to challenging the ideas of gender with a male "nature suit", we are also looking at the idea of a "death suit" that aids in decomposition - it is not permanent (that is not the point) but rather the point is to allow the wearer (possibly someone recently deceased who is about to be buried) to disintegrate back into the earth in a fashionable and beautiful way.

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