COOL CLASSES: “Body Media: Wearable Technology and Digital Bodies”

This visual studies course introduces students to critical design and creative practices that address technologies that are worn on the body, that digitize the body, and that extend the body.

Class name: Body Media: Wearable Technology and Digital Bodies

Taught by: Visiting Assistant Professor of Visual Studies Yvette Granata


Here’s what Granata has to say about her course:
This course examines the convergence of bodies, media, and technology in the context of critical media arts practice and digital culture. It introduces students to critical design and creative practices that address technologies that are worn on the body, that digitize the body, and that extend the body. We study critical texts that explore the relation of bodies, technologies, and visibilities (social and artistic), and how data about bodies are captured and rendered visible to techno-social systems. Our focus on bodies will lead us to examine wearable technology via critical perspectives on gender, race, and ability in order to situate our practice in a historical and contemporary social context. Students are introduced to various digital media production techniques including prototyping for wearables/physical computing projects, soft circuits, 3-D printing, and other fabrication skills for wearable tech arts. No previous media production or coding experience is needed.

Ultimately our main focus will be on designing and prototyping creative and critical wearable tech projects in response to the material covered in the course, culminating in a group exhibition in the VCAM building. Students will collaborate on producing the final exhibition throughout the course in order to publicly showcase their body tech art projects.

The class is a studio production course with weekly lectures, hands-on workshops, and studio-production labs. Studio labs will be dedicated to designing, prototyping, and producing creative wearables. Examination of critical theoretical texts alongside various designs and art works introduces students to a spectrum of conceptual and theoretical material and encourages engagement with contemporary socio-political issues. Students complete weekly assignments and design three critical wearable tech art projects as propositions for new modes of and interventions into digitized body culture.

I think of my classroom as a critical creative laboratory for dialogue, exchange, experiential hands-on practice, and experimentation. My goal, first and foremost, is to foster a classroom that is a lively place for discussion and thought, for questions, risks, and discovery. I want students gain the vocabulary, technical skills, and methods for implementing conceptual tech art/ design work with an ethical view of technologies and their impact. In other words—to be able to answer the question, why is it important to think about the consequences of our designs and our technologies? How do design and technology influence the world? How can we change and design things differently? And lastly — can we edit, re-design, or make new wearable technologies that engage with these questions?



See what other courses Visual Studies is offering this semester.

Cool Classes is a recurring series on the Haverblog that highlights interesting, unusual, and unique courses that enrich the Haverford College experience. 

Photos of a class presentation of student-made wearable tech by Patrick Montero.