Sep 102011

Welcome to Fashioning Circuits, a public Humanities project related to Fashion and Emerging Media.

Photo "electronic led light dress at the museum of science and industry in chicago" by Flickr user David Hilowitz

Photo “electronic led light dress at the museum of science and industry in chicago” by Flickr user David Hilowitz

Fashioning Circuits was launched in September 2011 as part of a series of independent studies in the graduate program in Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (formerly Emerging Media and Communication, or EMAC) at the University of Texas, Dallas.

The project began as an investigation into wearable media and technology. Wearables, and the shifts that arise from joining computing to the body, remain an important part of the work in the project. But our scope has expanded as we have done the work of exploring these questions and tracing these entanglements over the years. Fashioning Circuits is now a place where we also engage with the rich histories and practices of computational craft, domestic technologies, soft activism, and so forth. These practices, often hyper-feminized and located within homes or community collectives, are an important and often unacknowledged pre-history of what is today referred to as “maker culture.” We both study and engage in these practices in our scholarship, creative practice, and community partnerships

We are inspired by the possibilities of:

  • Learning new techniques
  • Decolonizing and recovering histories
  • Working in collaboration in an inclusive space
  • Developing strategies of expression that engage with broader cultural contexts

In Fashioning Circuits “fashion” functions not just as a noun to describe cultural trends, but also as a verb, “to fashion,” to indicate the experiential and problem based learning strategies of the project as well as the potential for a diverse range of students to fashion new histories and to fashion themselves as members of the publics and counterpublics of the future.

If you are interested in these possibilities and the connection between media or technology and embroidery, sewing, knitting, crocheting, felting, haberdashery, quilting, scrapbooking, cooking, and other craft or domestic technologies, contact us. If you would like to work with us on planning a community event, please email  If you would like to volunteer your time at one of our community events, please join our Facebook planning group at

Aside from the blog archive, the editorial team is also active on Twitter and Instagram. Follow our accounts @fashioncircuits (Twitter) and @fashioningcircuits (Instagram). And search both sites for the hashtag #fashioningcircuits to see all of the interesting resources we are finding and sharing.

Sep 092017

If possible, please download these things in advance of the workshop:

You will need the open source software Arduino to get started in the workshop. Since the quality of internet service at the conference cannot be predicted, we suggest downloading the software, rather than working in the web editor.

We will be working with the Arduino LilyPad protosnap boards. Pearl Chen has modified a bunch of example sketches to correspond to the wiring on the ProtoSnap. You can favorite and download from her on GitHub here, or if you are not a GitHub user, you can download them from here.

If you’ve decided to join the workshop late and don’t have time to download, don’t worry. You can pair up with someone who has the software; or if you prefer, download Arduino IDE on site and we will have the sketches on a flash drive.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Jun 272017
image showing a cake made out of felt; vanilla cake with dark brown icing; strawberries and blueberries on top

“Hunger Health Bar” by Fashioning Circuits student, Ariana Berdy. 2014.

The Wearable and Tangible Possible Worlds of DH @ HASTAC 2017. The conference will be held in Orlando, Florida, November 2-4, 2017.

Building on the 2016 HASTAC Wearables and Tangible Computing Research Charrette, we are hosting an exhibition at HASTAC 2017 (Nov 2-4, Florida). We invite proposals for participation from scholars, artists, and activists at both student and professional levels. In particular, we are eager to see emerging and exploratory work in the broad range of wearables and tangible computing. In keeping with the Possible Worlds thematic of the event, proposals can be past, present, or future oriented and speculative work is welcome. Each exhibition team or individual will have a 6×6 foot space in the exhibition and we will provide one table and accessible power to all exhibitions.

To submit a proposal, please send a project description (max 500 words), team roster, and any supporting visual materials to Jacqueline Wernimont ( and Kim Knight ( by 5 p.m. PST August 1, 2017. A maximum of 10 exhibitions will be selected for this event. All participant-applicants will be notified by August 22, 2017.

Sep 292016
woman's torso from behind with the word "journalist" over her jeans clothed "bum"

Still from Wrangler’s “more than a bum” ad

One of our Arts and Technology PhD students, James Martin, forwarded me this story in which the author, Maggie Parker, asks “Is this denim ad accidentally sexist?” In the email, the student asked me, “how do companies keep making the same mistakes?” The mistake in question is that Wrangler made an ad that attempts to position women as “more than a bum.” Instead of liberating women from the male gaze, however, they end up reinscribing the very thing they suggest that they are resisting.  From the opening shot that is focused on Kimbra from behind, to the series of shots like the one that I included above, to the lack of older or disabled bodies, to the normative depiction of femininity, I agree with Parker that it’s a #FAIL. They do deserve some credit for a few things: a racially diverse cast; not just including cis-gendered women; and including a few curvier bodies, even if they never show those bodies in jeans or from behind.1 For more analysis of the contradictions in the ad, check out Parker’s piece linked above. The rest of this post takes for granted that the ad is sexist and focuses on the question, “how do companies keep making the same mistakes?” James, the student who sent me the story, suggested in exasperated disbelief that perhaps Wrangler knew what they were doing and this is a misguided effort to get people talking, in keeping with the old adage, “there is no such thing as bad publicity.”


As entertaining as a good conspiracy theory might be, there is probably a more straightforward answer.


Let’s start with Wrangler. The company has a long history of cultivating a “cowboy” aesthetic. And though there are plenty of fierce cowgirls out there, many of whom I suspect love their Wranglers, normative masculinity is fundamental to the company’s identity. Wrangler does little to help themselves court serious cowgirls (let alone other women or gender non-conforming consumers). Women are not even mentioned in the company’s own history timeline until 2004 (  The image slideshow that takes up the top 1/3 of their website heavily features men in active poses and out in natural settings. The only woman is not even shown wearing jeans. She is posed against a wooden backdrop, which possibly suggests a barn, but is definitely not the rugged outdoor setting of the other photos. She is pictured from the waist up, directly facing the camera. The images featuring men suggest that the camera is spying upon some moment in which the actors are caught unaware. In contrast, she is clearly smiling at the camera. Posed for a picture, she exists for the camera. Most puzzling of all is that instead of showcasing her in jeans, the slider image prominently features a pair of earrings and the text, “Go On, Accessorize,” with a link to “shop jewelry.”

Continue reading »

Apr 102015
Three girls with backs to camera, around a laptop

Getting serious with art & code

On March 31, 2015 we had our first community event of the year and our first ever workshop with Brownies, i.e. Girl Scouts who are in the 2nd and 3rd grade.

Twenty Brownies joined us on campus at UT Dallas for programming that was focused on giving the girls a glimpse of the role of women in computing and on playing with code. We knew that for this age, we should try to move as much as possible away from abstract concepts, so we developed some new activities that we hoped would connect and excite the girls.

Drawing of a man with necktie and mustache, to which the student added a crown and ponytail after learning about Ada Lovelace.

One of the activities was to draw a picture of the first programmer. There were a lot of mustaches, but this was our favorite! We suspect some revision happened after we talked about Ada Lovelace.

Activities included drawing pictures of the first programmer, learning about Ada Lovelace, and a rousing game of “spot the programmer” where the students were shown slides with two images and they had to pick the one they thought was a programmer. We finished up by showing some interesting projects that bring together art and programming and then did some very basic activities with the Lilypad Arduino and the blink sketch.

Highlights from the one hour event included:

  • General amazement that there are elevators in college.
  • The student that informed us that hackers are BAD. Clearly she is getting some early web safety training somewhere. This was a great opportunity to break down what “to hack” means and how it can sometimes be used for good (as in our example of Ying Cracker, the Chinese hacker who helps people protect their data).
  • 30-second dance party as we discussed Shakira’s participation in Hour of Code.
  • The student who used the foil wrapper from the candy we handed out as conductive material in her circuit. Very clever!

At the end of the evening, the students took home UT Dallas folders that included handouts to help parents understand what we worked on and further resources in case the girls wanted to build on our very basic introduction.

Included here are the slides we used in keynote (35MB) and .pdf (25MB) form. They are licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license.

Thanks so much to our fantastic Fashioning Circuits volunteers: Lauren, Laura, Lisa, and Patti! Thanks also to the UTD A&H Grad Student Association who provided us with folders left over from their conference!



Feb 232015

This blog post was written by, and highlights the Fall 2014 final project of, EMAC undergraduate student Justin Ozuna. Follow him on Twitter @TheOzunaVerse. The assignment for which he made the project can be found here.

Pet ownership is a way of life in the United States. According to, more than 80 million dogs are pets in U.S. households. Eighty million! For perspective, there are an estimated 316 million people living in the United States. Nearly 47 percent of households own at least one dog, and the upward trend doesn’t show any signs of decline in the near future. In fact, pet ownership has nearly tripled since the 1970s.

Where there are numbers, there is a thriving industry. Americans will spend $58 billion on all pets combined this year. Walk into any store and there’s likely to be an aisle (or two) of pet food, snacks, toys and accessories. What you won’t be able to buy in the store, however, is time. After a long day of work and a full schedule of evening activities, Fido is ready for a long walk. The problem is that there’s not always time to take your pet for a stroll in the neighborhood before the sun goes down and the stars fill the sky. Walking your pet at night means you’re at the mercy of overcautious drivers and hyper-focused neighbors to stay safe.

Continue reading »

Feb 162015

This blog post was written by, and highlights the Fall 2014 final project of, EMAC undergraduate student Nilufer Arsala. Follow her on Twitter @NiluferArsala. The assignment for which she made the project can be found here.

Young woman wearing a surgical mask with red lights in the shape of an "X."

EMAC undergrad Nilufer Arsala models her Vaccination Mask

Artist Statement

My final project is mean to be an artistic statement about the most recent anti-vaccination movement. Parents can have many reasons not to vaccinate or to delay vaccinations of their children. Some cite religious reasons and some may be more concerned about the health risks of the vaccines, as opposed to the actual diseases they are meant to protect against. It seems that while the anti vaccination movement had gained some steam, recent  findings about the resurgence of disease and the retraction of a paper linking vaccines to autism by medical journal The Lancet may be slowing the trend down a bit.

This project struck a chord with me because I am a first time mom with a very young son. The first year of his life I too doubted the amount of vaccines and asked the doctor repeatedly how safe they were. I even went as far as to call all of my friends who are doctors and ask their opinions as well.  In my experience there were a couple of things that set my mind at ease in regards to making sure my son received his vaccinations in a timely fashion. The first was that I received vaccines as a child as well and seemed to turn out ok ( I think?) and the second was that these vaccines really can protect him from getting very, very, sick. Of course every parent has the right to choose what is best for their family and this piece is not meant to serve as judgment one way or the other.

The piece itself comes in the shape of a surgical mask. Embedded in the mask are red LED lights that blink in unison and are in the shape of an “X”. The lights paired with the mask are symbolic of trying to stop the transmission of disease.

How to make it!

Continue reading »

Jan 122015

By: Jonathan Gonzalez

The Nixie is a wearable quadcopter that can take flight with a simple hand gesture, position itself to take a photo or video of you, and fly back to your wrist. Team Nixie took 1st place in Intel’s Make It Wearable competition with a flying prototype, and will receive $500,000 to continue their endeavor.

Christoph Kohstall, CEO and Founder of Nixie, is an avid rock climber who had long tinkered with drones, but disliked the idea of having to pilot the drone while he was rock climbing. His hands are obviously busy while rock climbing, so controlling the drone became a distraction. He created the Nixie, which is light, wearable and hands-free. The prototype is said to be programmed with a few modes including: “boomerang,” “follow me” and “hover.” “Boomerang” launches the Nixie, which takes a photo or video and immediately returns to you. The “follow me” mode keeps the Nixie close to you as you move, while the “hover” mode leaves the Nixie at a stationary vantage point. Joseph Flaherty at states “Expertise in motion-prediction algorithms and sensor fusion will give the wrist-worn whirlybirds an impressive range of functionality.”

Kohstall has a background in rock climbing, so the Nixie was initially envisioned for use in outdoor adventure sports. However, during a video interview with CNBC Kohstall states “Nixie can be the next generation of point and shoot cameras”.

This could change the way we look at photography all together.  Aerial photography is becoming more popular and the Nixie’s self flying features can open the doors to even the most amateur user. The simple user interface can make it accessible to even the most novice tech users, such as children and grandparents. Prices are predicted to be “a bit more than a GoPro”, but no hard prices or dates have been set as of now.

What does Nixie winning Intel’s Make It Wearable contest say about our society? A wearable drone is a fun and cool idea, but the runner up, Open Bionics – Low-Cost Robotic Hand, is focused on helping amputees by giving the gift of a low priced, nearly fully functional robotic limb. We are talking the beginnings of cyborgs! Is technology so mainstream (for lack of a better phrase) that we should focus our efforts, not to mention funding, on something to help us show off our Instagram-worthy adventures? Is getting a better selfie and auto-flying cameras the next big technology we should go after? I’m not so sure. Don’t get me wrong, I am a amateur photographer/filmmaker and love new and exciting gadgets to play with. But, how are innovating self flying drones helping technology and wearables get to the next level? Can we even classify this technology as wearable? I don’t know the answers, but I’m curious to see what comes from all of this.


Nixie Website

Intel’s Make It Wearable

Nixie Facebook

Dec 102014

by Christopher G. Lewis

The final results of creative projects often differ greatly from the original concepts. It’s certainly true for my EMAC 6372 final project, the “Carbon Monoxide Sensing Hat.”

noise hoodie

It only required forcing existing tech into a hoodie.



The first concept I tried to develop focused on noise pollution and frustrated me completely. It was a creative and technical non-starter with only one positive, NO ARDUINO CODING. I stubbornly persisted with it because my fearful dread of code outweighed the logistics of a proper concept I actually felt strongly about.




During the third week of November, still mentally bankrupt over my first idea, I realized the anniversary of the day I started smoking was Wednesday the 19th. Had it really been 20 years since Nov. 19, 1994? How many cigarettes is that? What do my lungs look like? How much money spent?

Let’s see… 1 – 2 packs per day at approximately $5 per pack ($1/pack in 1994, but as much as $10 in recent years) I’ll guess $7.50 per day spent for this calculation (about 1.5 packs/day).

$7.50 x 365 = $2,737.50, $2,737.50 x 20 years =


I need to quit, but I’ve tried just about everything with limited to no success. I know cigarettes are bad. It says so right on the pack.


For health reasons, I typically only smoke the ones that complicate pregnancy

For health reasons, I typically only smoke the ones that complicate pregnancy

Then inspiration struck. I found my final project concept.

“The Black-Lung Canary CO Sensing Hat”

GasCap on a wire bust of myself I made years ago

GasCap on a wire bust of myself I made years ago

GasCap setting off CO alarm LEDs

GasCap setting off CO alarm LEDs













The name “Black-Lung Canary” references the small birds miners once used to detect deadly gasses underground. The hat functions similarly to the bird, but hats don’t die. Among the thousands of other chemicals in cigarette smoke, carbon monoxide (CO) is a proven killer. It’s the same gas released from a car’s tailpipe.

Parallax, Inc. produces an Arduino compatible gas sensing kit. The board comes with two sensors, the MQ-7 (Carbon Monoxide) and the MQ-4 (Methane).

The gas sensor board functions by heating up the MQ-7 sensor to purge particulates and then runs a sensing cycle. It must be calibrated by adjusting the alarm trip level in conjunction with the sensitivity level. I set both to about .8V, sensitive enough for smoke, but not overly sensitive. That took quite a bit of time as I don’t smoke inside my house and cold temperatures will affect the reading. Continue reading »

Dec 082014

Guardians of the Galaxy: A thrilling tale of adventure, thievery, danger, romance, and incredible heroism in the face of great evil. The original Marvel comic book characters—dating as far back as 1969—have been changed several times over the years. New stories and new timelines have followed the first tales. But one thing has remained the same—except in short-lived alternate timelines, the leader of the Guardians has always been a man.

In today’s most recent iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy—a fantastic film adaptation by Marvel Studios—Peter Quill of Earth, also known as Star Lord, steals a mysterious orb in the far reaches of outer space and thus becomes the main target of a manhunt led by the villain, Ronan the Accuser. To fight Ronan and his team and save the galaxy from his power, Quill bands together a team of misfit space anti-heroes who become known as the “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Guardians of the Galaxy on IMDB

[image via]

Continue reading »