Latex Nautilus

Image by Kim Wichera

Wearable, performance, installation. Latex, water, salt, arduino, temperature and resistance sensors, Max MSP 2 ch. real-time sound composition. 2023

Latex Nautilus is a sonic wearable that explores the relationship between movement, organic materials and technology, using a water-filled latex garment to modify the body and sound. It is inspired by the argonauts or paper nautilus and sea poetics, exploring hydrofeminist technologies, sonic ecologies and queer post-human embodiments. 

Wearables are pieces of technological garments that, in this case, influence sound. It holds a liquid solution based on water, salt and others. The wearable allows the user to perform a 2-channel composition in real-time. The solution state (solid-liquid) and movement change the sound. These changes are read by temperature and conductivity sensors that transmit data into an Arduino max patch. This data feeds FM and subtractive synthesis where resistance and temperature data affect each other behaviour, creating sound textures in real-time composition. In other words, the conditions of the environment affect the wearable: movement creates change in resistance and conduction, and the state of the water changes the temperature.

Argonauts aka Paper nautilus are a kind of octopus that live in tropical and subtropical seas. In the earliest 1800s, pioneer naturalist and dressmaker Jeanne Villepreux-Power discovered that “female” argonauts create their own translucent shells that allow them to carry their eggs but also to swim and float in the ocean. Their shells are made of a form of calcium and they can repair themselves, but that makes them significantly affected by the water conditions too.

On the other hand, latex is an organic material made of water and rubber extracted from plants or trees. Its etymology means liquid or fluid. Latex clothing is usually called, “second skin” in fetish culture due to its elastic properties and is a way to augment physical sensations in kinky playing contexts, for example.

Latex nautilus is a wearable that evokes poetics of queer self-determination and post-human embodiments from an hydrofeminist perspective. Hydrofeminism proposes to revisit our mutual kinship as water bodies: bodies that carry the ancestral footprint of the ocean in our chemistry, our biology and memory. We and all the creatures are carriers of the sea within the hypersea. In this sense, our ontological position is fluid, permeable and full of foldings. Ursula K. Le Guin in ” The carrier bag theory of fiction” proposes a redefinition of stories, tales and history beyond “the linear, progressive, Time’s- (killing)-arrow mode of the Techno-Heroic, and redefines technology and science as primarily a cultural carrier bag rather than a weapon of domination. One pleasant side effect is that science fiction can be seen as a far less rigid, narrow field, not necessarily Promethean or apocalyptic at all, and in fact, less a mythological genre than a realistic one.” In addition,  I would like to think of sound and its aurality as this translucent vaporous bag that contains other bags, bags with different densities, stories on histories, tales on the matter, water in the stones, and vibrations on the skin.

Images by Kim Wichera and Kayla Elrod