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Hexagram shirt

hexagram shirt, shaking and displaying hexagram

We’ve put together a wearable randomness generator and display that, by way of a simple gestural interface, shows hexagrams from the Book of Changes (I Ching).

The Hexagram shirt was inspired by and conceived to fit into the dystopic universe of Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, a novel depicting what the world would have been like during the 1960s, had the Axis won WWII.

In the book, the U.S. west coast is a colony of Japan, whose rule and influence has permeated and dominated Californian society for years. The Book of Changes has become the mainstream method, for Japanese and Californian people alike, to take important decisions in life.

Whenever someone has a choice to make, that person takes out three little coins that are shaken and tossed on a surface several times, the resulting heads and tails data is then translated into one of the 64 hexagrams that comprise the Book of Changes.

In a way, from an absurdist point of view, characters in the book are embracing and surrendering to randomness, almost as if they were saying “Since the ultimate purpose of the universe and my own life is beyond my comprehension, I don’t see how hard, rational cold analysis is in any way a better tool for living than random pieces of wisdom fortuitously thrown at me by the cosmos.” Some of these fictional people would probably be willing to wear a Hexagram shirt.

The shirt itself is a very simple device that allows the 1960s dystopian inhabitant to obtain a hexagram that can be looked up in the Book of Changes. It also works as an active agent of randomness by publicly displaying the hexagram, thus giving onlookers an unsolicited random answer to a question that possibly hasn’t been asked yet. (Which might make some sort of sense in Philip K. Dick’s universe.)

To cast a hexagram, the wearer shakes the sleeves of the shirt (as if he was shaking coins in the traditional I Ching way), this gesture generates a series of clicking noises and random luminescent patterns that ritualistically make way for the final configuration of the hexagram (as shown in the videos.)

Most components* that make up the Hexagram shirt are really old school. Arguably someone could have gathered all the materials and built the shirt in the 1960s, it just uses some clicking-sounding relays, noisy inverters, aluminum foil and electroluminescent sheets. That wasn’t really planned for, it all sort of fell into place, you see.

(*) Okay, the whole thing is driven by a contemporary, not-from-a-parallel-universe Wiring board. So much for the parahistorical accidental accuracy!

Photograph model: Orlando Moreno

12 Responses to “Hexagram shirt”

  1. Ramona says:

    Wow! The video with the shirt is brilliant. It seems like this shirt has the power to bring out the individual spirit of dancing.
    There’s also this nice electronic sound, where exactly is it coming from?

  2. bubo says:

    The sound comes from your behind.

    Well, the shirt can potentially give you a very nasty electrical shock! I guess that helps to the dancing thing. The tick tick tick tick tick sound comes from the array of electromagnetic relays that controls each pixel of the electroluminescent thing.

    The high pitched sound comes from the transformer in the inverter that powers the EL sheet, the smaller the load (number of EL pixels on) the higher the pitch gets. A nice feature that can’t be seen in the video is that the inverter and relays are hidden in a pocket in the back of the user’s trousers, so that gives an effect as if all those sounds are actually coming from your ass!

  3. Hexagram shirt » Developages - Development and Technology Blog says:

    [...] Hexagram shirt – [via] Link. [...]

  4. threethirty says:

    Are there any plans to sell these?

  5. Justred says:

    When will these be available for private orders? This is an amazing shirt.

  6. idkid says:

    Wonderful work. I see a huge demand from any company with a trade show booth. Put a couple of bare-midriff versions on the booth bunnies and flashy breast-mounted company logos will draw in the crowds! I know, it may be counter to the I Ching origin, but you have to make a living, too. Thank you for your creativity, expertise and spirit!

  7. grinding.be » Blog Archive » Electroluminescent Shirt says:

    [...] The group’s website reads: [...]

  8. Jessica says:

    Sounds like it could be a great match for the Exploratorium’s upcoming 2nd Skin annual exhibition / event. See call at http://www.ylem.org/blog/?p=102

  9. Doctress Julia says:

    I WANT!!!! I WANT! I will pay and pay! Please tell me if you will sell me one- in black perhaps? Thanx! :)

  10. bubo says:

    Hi, at the moment there is only one Hexagram shirt prototype, we are probably going to build a couple more to show in conferences and stuff, but there are no plans of selling shirts at the moment, sorry. We’ll keep you posted here if there are any opportunities for selling shirts, perhaps a small batch in the near future.

    @Jessica: Thanks for the info, looks interesting!

    @Doctress Julia: the electroluminescent material only looks good behind a white fabric, the light scatters very evenly and nicely in that, with coloured fabrics, the light coming from the EL sheet makes evident the small imperfections in the dying process of the shirt and the fibers, so it doesn’t look too good.

    Thanks all for the feedback :) new shirts coming in the next few weeks (non electronic)

  11. m e n o s t o r i e says:

    [...] Da veri fan di uno degli scrittori più prolifici e “fantastici” del novecento, Alejandro Zamudio ed il suo team di designer Zazaziza hanno pensato di farsi ispirare dal famoso libro “La svastica sul sole” per realizzare un prodotto di interaction-design. Ecco dove nasce l’idea di Hexagram shirt, una particolarissima camicia interattiva. Indossatela ed osservate il suo effetto sorprendente: basta muovere le maniche, e come in un film di fantascienza apparirranno sul suo tessuto delle forme luminescenti. Quali? Se avete letto il libro, non sarà difficile immaginare la risposta. Ma se la trama vi sfugge, allora ve lo diciamo noi. Hexagram shirt è in grado di generare una sequenza casuale degli esagrammi dell’I Ching, il libro dei mutamenti. [...]

  12. dexter says:

    Good Work, I see a great need for this item at trade shows. it needs work but its a great start

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