Google’s custom search preferences, Facebook’s custom advertisements and Instagram’s location finder all make it apparent how very little privacy is afforded on the Internet. But one dress made by NYU students Xuedi Chen and Pedro Oliveira takes the virtual and makes it a physical display.
Part of an Interactive Telecommunications thesis, the x.pose dress links with your smartphone and becomes transparent as you leave a trail of recoverable metadata—defined by Google as a set of data that describes and gives information about other data. The intention behind the dress is to serve as a reminder of how much you expose yourself on the Internet. “In the digital realm,” the x.pose site reads, “we are naked and vulnerable…Google can most definitely paint a clear portrait of any of their users.”
The dress currently only works in New York City. It corresponds with the wearer’s location and disappears based on what neighborhood they’re in. This enables the wearer to avoid being inappropriately exposed as neighborhood segments are small and reappear as she moves to another area. X.pose collects personalized data about the wearer from a mobile app. The data is then fed into a program to make the dress material, a 3D mesh over top of reactive displays divided into various New York City neighborhoods.
A promo video on Vimeo shows a woman wearing the dress which is sleeveless and cut out on both sides. As she checks the weather, the dress blinks away and her skin beneath is revealed. “As more data is produced and collected from her,” the video says, “the more naked and exposed she will become.”
According to their website, X.pose is meant to be a technological and societal commentary on our culture’s dependence on smartphones and, consequently, data sharing.