Poetry-reading dresses have tales to tell

Part of a growing wearable-technology trend, Lace Sensor Dresses with custom pressure sensors are truly poetry in motion.

Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
Leslie Katz led a team that explored the intersection of tech and culture, plus all manner of awe-inspiring science, from space to AI and archaeology. When she's not smithing words, she's probably playing online word games, tending to her garden or referring to herself in the third person.
  • Third place film critic, 2021 LA Press Club National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards
Leslie Katz

It's always nice to encounter poetry in everyday life. But imagine wearing it -- literally. Lace Sensor Dresses by artists Anja Hertenberger and Meg Grant feature embroidered poems that are prerecorded and play aloud through tiny speakers sewn into the frocks.

Specific gestures trigger the poems to broadcast through the speakers, which are covered with decorative conductive lace custom-made with help from the Dutch Lace Factory Museum (and detachable in case something breaks or needs to be resoldered).

The speakers are covered with crocheted conductive lace patterns. (Click to enlarge.) Pieter Claessen

To play a poem about death and remembrance, for example, the wearer embraces herself by crossing her arms over her chest and pressing the pressure sensors on the sleeves.

Another poem, about the pain of physical labor, begins playing when the wearer massages her neck while holding her right wrist. And another, about gaining independence and autonomy through acquisition of a a skill, requires the wearer to stand with hands on hips -- a stance that exudes confidence. The firmer the pressure, the louder the poem plays.

The Lace Sensor collection consists of three dresses, each based on the Arduino open-source platform popular among DIYers and each with a different poem. The dresses are debuting at the TechnoSensual expo now under way in Vienna. The show explores the intersection of fashion and technology with electronic textiles and wearable technologies by international haute tech couture designers.

pressure sensor dresses (2012 Meg Grant and Anja Hertenberger) from Anja Hertenberger on Vimeo.

(Via Fashioning Technology)