AestheSis ≱ AesThetic Workshop 1-2

Wei-Chi Su  Feb. 2022

Educated in the Eurocentric fashion institutions for so long, it is hard for many students and designers to start or even imagine doing fashion design in a different way. Yet, through my research, I found out that sensory details have the capacity to lead us to embodied experiences and perspective, allowing us to start a design from a self-narrative perspective against Western hegemony. Knowledge and experiences are not only acquired visually through language and texts; learning and experiencing involve all of our senses— vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, pain, mechanoreception, temperature, interoceptors and emotion. Moreover, every experience and memory is unique, has elements that are embodied and can never be separated from the domain of the senses. Focusing on the senses, design as an inner act can foster awareness of self and society and can turn intimate experiences into more meaningful and empowering work.
Focusing on breaking through the dominant discourse and aesthetic norms that fashion has propagated for decades, during the last workshop, I believe I have led the participants to reconnect their senses and offer an option to decentralise their aesthetic from the Western norm. Taking this into the second phase, this time, I asked participants to look deeper into their sensory experience and turn it into their own design process so that their approach will be fully informed by their own aesthesis rather than the Western norm.

In this phase of the workshop, the participants were asked to bring an item that carries specific value for them to the location. They were asked to trace their sensory orientation, sensory details and the process or transformation of their thoughts and emotions when they think about the item and the value it carries. These sensory details are intersubjective and are the process that can lead to their own way of designing. After the participants have traced their processes and put them into words or voice mails, they will be put into duos, helping each other to adopt their sensory process into a design process and design a wearable item. Moving away from the traditional designing processes—mood board, colour palette, mechanical drawing— I believe designing as writing our own sensory autoethnography, which conjures multi-sensory images of everyday life will lift our design from digital images and get in touch with the body, the motion, and the space. Decolonising and decentralising senses are the beginning to reach our perceiving and imaginative potential.

Collective care also plays a big part in my practices, as I am convinced that the power of caring, sharing, and talking, are the ways to bring us together. Even though our differences are constantly being used to divide people, recognising the power difference is also the way to liberation. Besides, the aim of this series of workshops is not about the end product, but the process, and the awareness and experience we can bring to each other.

The documentation of this workshop contains zines, a playlist and a video. Please feel free to browse and listen to these elements in the way you prefer. The zine can also be downloaded︎︎︎ and printed on A3 paper so you can also flip through it physically.

Documentation and archiving have come to my mind as essential to building movements, calling for engagement and keeping a conversation alive. Therefore, how I document my workshops are not merely recording the whole process but capturing the intimacy of sharing, the power that the participants gained during the process and allowing the viewers to see the possibilities as the participants experienced. Hopefully, you will be able to also experience the possibility of decolonising fashion design through searching and adopting personal sensory lived experiences in these documentations.

© 2022, Wei-Chi Su.