The creations of Bart Hess (Geldrop, 1984), who studied at Design Academy Eindhoven, are fashion, design, and art in one. Hess’ designs are inextricably linked to the human body, which he continually tries to reshape, transform, or embellish with substances quite unrelated to traditional textiles. Foam will dissipate, pins will prick, mucus will ooze away, and latex will choke the model. Therefore, Hess always immediately documents his designs by photo and videography. Since his “fabrics” are hardly meant to be worn for any length of time, Hess’s captured images—often reminiscent of science fiction—could be considered the actual work.
For his performance Digital Artifacts, Hess used a hot wax that forms a thin film the moment it contacts the skin. A model suspended in a lightweight harness was slowly lowered into a tank filled with water and wax. Every one of the model’s movements caused a thin layer of wax to adhere to her body, “printing” a layer of garment directly on the skin. When model was lifted from the water, her congealed wax silhouette was clearly recognizable, and she then broke free of her casing.
Hess values the resulting imperfections, tiny random disruptions, and irregular shapes created by this process. He calls them “glitches”: random phenomena regularly found in digital imaging that now show up in this analog world. Hess’ video has captured the magical process of motion solidified; the silhouettes presented in this exhibit are a material snapshot of that process.
Digital Artifacts shows us the artist’s vision of future fashion. Clothing will no longer consist of individual garments, but will be a second skin, made new to measure each morning and manipulated at will.
Bart Hess is one of the 26 designers and studios that are selected for the group show Dream Out Loud – Designing for Tomorrow’s Demands. The exhibition can be visited from 26 August 2016 in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Read more about the exhibition or order tickets.