I am Ariel Cotton. I'm an artist, UI/UX designer, & maker of interactive things.


Les Fleurs du Mal

Categories engineering, programming, sewing, apparel design, illustration, laser cutting, interaction design, soft circuitry
Materials Teensy, Teensy Audio Board, speaker, velvet, conductive fabric, assorted electronics


Ariel Cotton Physical Computing Wearables Conductive Fabric Les Fleurs Du Mal Electronics

I collaborated on this electronic wearable project with fellow artist, maker and NYCResistor member Olivia Barr. I always fantasized about the idea of turning my body into an art installation, of transforming it into an object that attendants at an art show could interact with in a specific way. This desire manifested itself in the form of a dress covered in flowers that produce screaming and crying noises when they are touched. The flowers are strategically placed so that they cover the breasts, the butt and the crotch of the woman wearing them.

Ariel Cotton Physical Computing Wearables Conductive Fabric Les Fleurs Du Mal Electronics

Olivia and I also wanted to make a statement about sexual harassment and expectations towards female behavior in our culture. Women are expected to constantly act friendly and be beautiful, regardless of whether they want to or not. This is mirrored in the flowers we chose for the dress. We selected them according to the Victorian language of the flowers. The flowers are beautiful but they have ugly meanings. For instance, the message of gladiolus is “you pierce my heart,” peach blossom is “I am your captive,” monkshood is “beware,” and narcissus is, well, narcissism.

Ariel Cotton Physical Computing Wearables Conductive Fabric Les Fleurs Du Mal Electronics

I illustrated the flowers using Adobe Illustrator, then laser cut them out of velvet and conductive fabric. Olivia sewed the dress and pasted the flowers on. The conductive part of the flowers is what produces the signal to play the screaming and crying recordings. Those recordings are loaded onto a Teensy microcontroller located in one of the dress’s shoulder pads. I took care of the electronics and the code for the Teensy, and Olivia wired all the flowers to the Teensy.

Ariel Cotton Physical Computing Wearables Conductive Fabric Les Fleurs Du Mal Electronics Ariel Cotton Physical Computing Wearables Conductive Fabric Les Fleurs Du Mal ElectronicsAriel Cotton Physical Computing Wearables Conductive Fabric Les Fleurs Du Mal Electronics

Les Fleurs du Mal was featured in a handful of exhibits, including Maker Faire New York 2014, Containers for the Self at Black Earth Gallery, NYCResistor’s 2015 Interactive Show, and my solo exhibit Gonna Put a Hacks on You. I also modeled it when I spoke at Pioneer Works’ Software for Artists Day about physical interaction design. It has received press in Technically Brooklyn and The Brooklyn Paper.


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