On January 6, 2016, ZEITGUISED released geist.xyz, a different kind of fashion project: what looks at first glance like an eccentric tangle of simulated dance and a color-coordinated tumblr exploration turns out to be a study of handcrafted algorithmic textiles and procedural surfaces presented in and for exquisite realities.
A synthetic ghost shifts simulated textiles from passive matter to live organisms. They behave like apparitions in an artificial choreography, with movements that are imaginary, yet familiar. Like a constant metamorphosis, the same sequence gets transformed over and over again. At each step, all aspects of the designs are modified, from algorithmic pattern to color scheme to fabric behavior. The results are meandering layers of style changes. To highlight the open nature of this process we took samples and present them in two forms: One is a grid of moving images on geist.xyz that visualizes our conceptual approach. The other is a linear montage showing the intricate details in 4K resolution. Shuffled layers of metronomic sounds emphasize the transformation fluctuating in and out of sync.
We have a background in sculpture and fashion design, and wanted to make this design project for years. We felt that algorithmic design is underrepresented in fashion still, due to approaches that are either too nerdy or executions that don't work. We wanted to change that, and bring more design thinking to making patterns with algorithms. We also want to see these patterns being worn, and wear them ourselves —even if self-transforming textiles don't exist yet to the extent that we show. We just simply didn't want to wait for it.
Our focus on algorithmic design stems from an interest in the rules that shape things and how designers can work with a feedback loop of the design intention into emergent results of synthetic processes. We were infatuated with the idea of algorithm-driven design in general and particularly fabrics and prints for a while. At some point we realized that it will take a while for the current textile technologies to be developed to a state where they are usable in products or even artwork. Visualizing them first in the most enticing way would maybe be a valid precursor of ideas to take shape soon after.
Switching around the initial brief of algorithm-driven design that we used was a choice that presented itself when we thought about textile design. Design-driven algorithms and processes were now the goal. The concept for the final piece was to document and exhibit the process itself —displaying the layered technique of feeding back the results into a design process that is not bound by authenticity and could therefore bear unexpected transformations. We tried to keep it subtle by adhering to a color scheme that we used to guide the manic layered shuffling of design elements.
In terms of aesthetics, the resulting sequence bears quite a few moods, from bright to contrasty to dark, from elegant to exuberant, but the flow between those moods was the decisive point we wanted to make, on a micro and a macro level.
On a technical level, we worked with many software packages like Marvellous Designer for the fabric simulations and Houdini for the procedural surfaces and algorithm-driven patterns, and Substance Designer for additional procedural surfaces. It was all put together in Cinema 4D and rendered in Octane in full 4K resolution.
The most challenging part was curbing the sprawling complexity of possibilities. At some point we had oodles of movements, shapes, patterns, and textures that we had to sift through, declutter and recombine in ways that we couldn't have preconceived.
ZEITGUISED (DE) is a studio for consultancy for synthetic art and design with inhouse creative direction and production. The exquisite realities of ZEITGUISED are crafted as a unique blend of tantalizing design, handmade algorithms and bespoke generative processes. ZEITGUISED was initially founded by Henrik Mauler (DE) and Jamie Raap (US) as a collective of artists, designers, and technologists. Their work has been presented in numerous international new media festivals and selected work has also been shown in galleries and art shows around the world. Their collective is based in Berlin.
All conceptual, design and production work: ZEITGUISED
Sound track: geist.xyz by Superimposed Void
Production outtakes on: instagram/zeitguised