Plastic Corporalities | Wanderers // Neri Oxman

“The wearables are designed to interact with a specific environment characteristic of their destination and generate sufficient quantities of biomass, water, ai and light necessary for sustaining life.”

The Wanderers are 3D printed plastic corporealities adaptable to any
body & outer space environments. For our research, we used four items to describe & explain the corporalities, focusing on the comparison of the key ideas to help us understand the essence of the Wanderer’s collection.

Corporalities come from the word corpus in Latin. Corpus means body.

The human body is the vehicle for the journey of life, marking time and the passage of life. It has always been at the heart of the world since ancient times, especially in scientific studies. The function of the human body underwent many alterations throughout time, going from its main role as the phenomenological body to the modern body, to finally reach the plastic body which is the body as we know it nowadays. The key idea here is to understand the essence of corporality in both fashion and architecture.

Plastic corporalities are studied & adapted on 3 levels: Diagram showing the 3 parameters of plastic corporalities

PHENOMENOLOGICAL BODY  |  the lived body is one’s body experienced by oneself, as oneself. Thus, experienced as a duality, the object and the subject. Maurice Merleau-Ponty dedicated his career to works based on embodiment, perception and ontology. This led to concepts such as ‘Flesh’ and ‘Chiasm’. Merleau-Ponty explains the chiasmatic relationship between the body and the world with reference to the term ‘Flesh’, an ultimate notion. He describes flesh as “the formative medium of the object and the subject” through which both the body and the world are intertwined. Accepted interpretations of this phenomenology relied upon conceiving flesh as a perceptual experience.

MODERN BODY  | Modern body allows the understanding of the body as a Cartesian body: a mechanical artefact which is strictly reduced to a physical realm. Inputs are passed on by the sensory organs to the epiphysis in the brain and from there to the immaterial spirit. It is also a sectorized body: red extensa of juxtaposed parts allowing the practice of the modern medicine, isolating only of the affected parts for his treatment.

PLASTIC BODY  | Plastic bodies offer a wide variety of artificial and/or modified body parts. They are commonly used among people who have genetic abnormality, also called congenital amputation, it is a condition where a person is born without a limb or portion of a limb. This added plastic body, also known as prosthetic arm or leg, acts as a functional extension of the body, facilitating vital movements of everyday life.

The study of Plastic Corporalities was based on the case study related to The Wanderers collection by Neri Oxman.

Wanderers // Neri Oxman

The Wanderers are 3D printed wearable skins, designed in a computational process to generate synthetic biological processes that can adapt to the environment on other planets. Designed by Neri Oxman in collaboration with Christoph Bader & Dominik Kolb of the Mediated Matter Group at MIT Media Lab. The concept of the Wanderers is that it interacts with the environment that it’s designed for and generates a sustainable environment through it, by producing biomass, water, air, oxygen, biofuels, calcium, and light (Oxman, 2014). The wearable skins are made of various rigidities, opacities, and colors to suit different planets. Oxman explained the process as “Each piece intends to hold life-sustaining elements contained within 3D-printed vascular structures with internal cavities,” which will generate through computational growing patterns (Howarth, 2014). The collection is named after the planets in Arabic, in honor of the contributions of the Arabs to the science of astronomy and the name Wanderers is from the Greek term planets, “Wanderer”(Oxman, 2014).

The scope of work was set on four items: a publication, an artistic work, a socio-political event & a technological Device.

Diagram showing information about the four references in relation to the Wanderers

The four references for analysis

The Meat Dress (2010) | Sparked a lot of controversies and was rejected by the fashion industry, while the Wanderers were not necessarily rejected but its controversy was in its belonging to the architecture or fashion industries. Both wearables were made from the combination of natural materials that are not commonly used in fashion. In a way the Wanderers are a performative matter, they adapt to their environment to sustain the user’s life. On the other hand, the Meat Dress is more of a metaphorical matter, as it was more of a political and fashion statement.

Matter Matters (2005) | Biomimetics as a strategy to generate plastic corporalities taking advantage of the stratified systems of the body (modern body) to create a new appendix (wearable) that allows developing a new vital function such as breathing on the moon or eating on Saturn. Idea on the concept of wanderers of manipulating the body in such an intimate manner that could be a way to inhabit an extreme scenario (otherS worlds or even a global change scenarios), taken advantage of the abstract principles of nature that can be applied to industrial materials or objects.

Google Glasses (2013) | Similar to the Wearables, this device makes it possible to share experiences in real time which means connecting directly an entire community to the experiences lived by the wearing subjects. An example would be the NBA game between the Sacramento Kings and the Indiana Pacers on January 24, 2014 where viewers from home and other viewing centers were able to experience the game as if they were on the courtside.

Rosetta Landing (2014) | The space age caught the imagination of the fashion world and changed how we all dress, leading up to Intergalactic/space fashion. On one hand, designers orbit around the ideas of extruding fabric from a 3-D printer, and regulating body temperature — in a time of climate change — through sensors in fabric. Similarly, Nery Oxman makes use of biologically-augmented 3D printed Wearables in her Wanderers collection by altering the geometric morphologies,
a broad variety of different structures can be ‘grown’ .



Wanderers: Plastic Corporalities is a project of IAAC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia developed at Master of Advanced Architecture in 2021 by: // Students:  Jihad Al Ojaili, Yasmine Chacour, Pamela Inegbedion, Pablo Mendez // Faculty: Manuel Gausa & Jordi Vivaldi