BF+DA Interactive Cocoon
Interactive Wearable Garment for Performance Artist
Premiere: May 7, 2018 Glass Box Theatre The New School, Manhattan, NY, USA
concept & realization Kalun Leung
fabrication Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator
performer Rae Haas
film Peter Brensinger
This piece is inspired by sericulture, the ancient practice of cultivating silkworms to produce silk. The cocoon presented today is a prototype that demonstrates the structure of the final rendition which will be constructed out of Ahimsa silk, or peace silk, a nonviolent means of extracting silk from cocoons. Traditionally, the silkworm is boiled or steamed to death before it hatches, allowing for the single strand of silk to be unravelled unbroken. Ahimsa silk allows the silkworm to complete its metamorphosis, but at a heavy cost to production which yields ten times less silk than the boiling method.
Silkworms eat mulberry leaves for 45 days straight after which they begin building their cocoon. This process takes around 48 hours and produces a continuous strand of silk of over 1 kilometer in length. Today’s performance will not be 48 hours long, but you are invited to drink and smell the mulberry tea being served and to immerse yourself in the space as desired!
The final rendition of the garment will be a long scarf-like “strand” that can be sequentially buttoned to form the cocoon shape that you see today. The performance is intended to be durational and meditative, designed to encourage the user to focus their thoughts on snapping each button to activate tones and sounds that are transcribed from field recordings from the BF+DA production lab. Tonight’s pupation will be performed by Rae Haas.