Throughout her work,
The project was inspired by the novel ‘The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat’ by neurologist Oliver Sacks, the story of 49-year-old sailor Jimmie G who, since leaving the navy, is convinced he is still aged 19. Shocked by his own reflection when Sacks hands him a mirror, Jimmie reverts to his 19-year-old self as soon as his gaze leaves the reflective surface. Having lost any sense of time, Jimmie lives as a prisoner to this single, perpetual moment, oscillating between the real world and that of his mind.
Like the character Jimmie G, Gao’s garments evolve between two states, displaying a perpetual metamorphosis as they react to the chromatic spectrum. Made of silicone, glass, PVDF and integrated electronic devices, the amoeba-like pieces appear animated as they fluctuate between immobility and movement. Each piece traverses between opposite states with varying intensity, intensifying the uniqueness of each separate item in the collection.
Ying Gao explains, “The garments are capable of chromatic movement. Capable of recognizing the colors in their immediate surroundings, they are at once liquid and chameleon-like, adapting to the slow rhythm of their ever-changing environment.”
Some items feature bubble-like heads with crinkled, shiny plastic bodices, in futuristic and luminescent shades of grey. Others are made of more delicate fine mesh, with pastel shades of pink and purple evocative of a ballet tutu. Each piece strikes a balance between being relatedly wearable, with obvious features such as sleeves and skirts, whilst being totally impractical at the same time.
Gao continues, “A mirror effect is at play: the garments are reacting to what they see. Much like Oliver Sacks’ patient, they alternate between what they are, and what they can potentially become – all the while embodying the inherent complexity of all things.”