By  on April 13, 2010

As much as fashion pivots on change, the industry’s willingness to embrace new mediums has been less than cosmic.

That’s the verdict from Reed and Rader, a Brooklyn-based artistic consortium run by Pamela Reed and Matthew Rader, who are doing what they can to get style makers to advance how they present their brands. Adept as they are as digital photographers, Reed and Rader won’t rely on any one well of creativity. Their work is part of the group show, “Shoot the Messenger,” at the APF Lab in SoHo until April 24.

Having jazzed up V, Dazed and Pop’s blog with their adaptations of augmented reality — essentially using digital layers on top of live or still images of the real world — the duo is clueing in designers and brands to the technique’s visually arresting potential. Aside from developing an e-commerce site for an undisclosed company, they are creating a film for Models.com, developing an animation sequence for the online English-Japanese e-zine Mother launching at the end of the month and whipping up iPod Touch apps. Visitors to Reedandrader.com can literally try on augmented reality by going to the YR_YULIA section where they can download and print a paper mask, and then using a Webcam, see their newly altered faces on a computer screen.

“Augmented reality is where you want yourself to be,” Rader said. “It really relates to fashion because fashion is all about becoming something more than yourself — taking on some sort of overlay. People don’t quite get it. They’re saying ‘Let’s just put our magazine online.’ What it really comes down to is people in print don’t want to take a chance because they’re scared. Things are changing fast and furiously.”

So much so that solar-powered lenses already have been developed to insert in people’s eyes, giving them the ability to see augmented reality without the use of a computer, Reed said. Reed and Rader imagine a time when designers will work with 3-D artists to design the clothes for sites such as Second Life, the free 3-D virtual world where users can socialize, connect and create using free voice and text chat.

They also envision a not-too-distant future in which video games will become indistinguishable from reality, using real time images. These fully immersive games are nested inside each other like Russian dolls, with each game emerging from the previous one with increasing complexity. Just as blogs give people the freedom to share their ideas, Web sites can let consumers be their own art directors, the pair said.

Irked by fixed photography and publications that simply post the content from their magazines on the Web, Reed and Rader prefer to use moving images such as dramatic photographs with dancing graphics, animation and other unexpected combinations instead of video footage.

“Right now online there are a lot of people doing stories online with a behind-the-scenes film,” Rader said. “The only people who care about behind-the-scenes films are people who are really into fashion.”

While more designers are getting faster about posting runway images online or streaming shows live, most only offer a front-and-back perspective. “Why not have a 360 view?” asked Reed, noting e-commerce sites also mistakenly follow that course.

More of-the-moment mediums have far greater appeal beyond the fashion crowd,said Reed, adding, “My dad is a trucker and he’s 60. We show him all our crazy stuff and he’s intrigued by it.”

Comme des Garçons, Yohji Yamamoto and Gareth Pugh are among the designers they keep their eyes on, but Reed and Rader get most of their inspiration surfing the Web almost constantly. (It’s no surprise that Stumbleupon.com, which uses a personalized recommendation engine to allow users to discover and rate Web pages, photos, and videos, is one of their favorite online stops.) They spend so much time online leaping from one site to the next, they often ask, “How did I get here?” Reed said.

But it is the speed at which designers and other companies can potentially change that really gets them motivated. “The Internet really gives you the chance to go viral and to grow exponentially,” Rader said. “You’re really just limited by how fast you can do this stuff.”

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