Objectified
Attunement, Virtual Design Destination
London Design Festival, 2020


Objectified

“The body—what we eat, how we dress, the daily rituals through which we attend to the body—is a medium of culture.”

To put it disrespectfully, a model is just a coat rack. This is a frequently heard myth that has been told about models for years. This is one of the reasons why skinny models have been in the mainstream for so long, designers want to see their products on a skinny, straight model, without forms. That way you can see that fabric fall and fold, as if it was hanging on a rack.
In modern fashion, the human needs to be designed for the clothes, and not the other way around. In her book Unbearable Weight, Bardo recognizes that anorexia is related to the increasing emphasis that fashion has placed on slenderness over the past fifteen years, while also recognizing the illness as a protest against the limitation of the ideal of female domesticity.
Over-sexualizing of women in media and sexual abuse is also a factor, and therefore denying the female body, and keeping the boyish body can make anorexics feel in control, free and independent. The illness can also be a side-effect of women being taught not to take up space in society.



Objectified is a speculative design project that reflects on objectification and body image, the role of the body in fashion and in virtual spaces, as well as the post-human and cyborgs. This project was made for an exhibition called Attunement, displayed at Virtual Design Destination for London Design Festival in 2020. The avatar was placed in a virtual landscape, mimicking Icelandic nature, next to other design projects, all of whom are objects. The avatar’s body has been transformed into a cyborg and now looks like an object.

With virtual fashion, one can design the bodies that carry the collection along with the collection itself.  With avatars, the human body becomes even more objectified since it is literally just an object in virtual space, it has no function other than being a coat rack. There is no personality attached and there are no feelings involved. This raises a series of questions such as: Could this be a way to use bodies as objects, or might it increase the way society objectifies human bodies? Could this be a way to increase diversity in fashion or would that be an issue of appropriation? Is it possible to explore fantasy bodies without the dangers of plastic surgery and the efforts of makeup, or will that reinforce more unrealistic body standards?

My position as the designer is not to tell the answer to any of these questions, but to encourage the viewer to recognize the power of images and virtual realities, how they can in fact influence real life and that we should make conscious decisions when designing for virtual spaces as well as physical spaces.