2016-09-21 21:22

Artistic design research in continual motion

Linnea Bågander has designed since she, as a 12-year-old, began to sew her own clothes and discovered that she could decide how they looked. Now she researches clothes, the body, and how the body’s movements are affected by clothes. And vice versa.

“I practice capoeira and have always been interested in dance,” says Linnea Bågander. “Movement is absolutely my focus in my research as well.”

Linnea Bågander is a new doctoral student at the Swedish School of Textiles where she started in February of this year. But she is not new to the field. When she was in high school, she produced her own fashion shows and exhibits and she has also worked with dance performances and has made costumes and done scenography for films.

“It was when I worked with scenography and costumes in the film world that I began to wonder about clothes, spaces, and the relationship between them. It’s actually the case that when clothes are a part of scenography, they become a part of the space whereas when the clothes are costumes, they become a part of the body. For me, who was working with both parts, that meant that I was often questioned by my colleagues if a garment was costume or scenography, and if it was scenography, the garment couldn’t be moved from its position. It was also here that I discovered clothes’ ability to change roles and definition. A character has a blue shirt, that shirt can both be worn on the body and rest in the room and tell us that the character has taken the shirt off,” informs Linnea Bågander.

It was through these experiences, among others, in combination with working as an assistant for Clemens Thornquist, Professor in Fashion Design at the Swedish School of Textiles, that she began to ask questions. What are clothes and what is space? What is a bodily space? Is a bodily space the actual, measurable space that the clothes take up, or can it be more than that? And what do the body’s movements mean in this context?

The experimental stage

When you have just begun your research, the experimental stage is in focus. Linnea Bågander documents her experiments in film. She fills the disk space in no time and in her films, she explores the body, its movements, and its movement patterns in relation to different materials and spatiality, and she investigates what expressions can be achieved.

What does it mean to explore the body, the movements, and the material?

”Well, as movement is my focus, I began by investigating how clothes can strengthen or limit the body’s movements,” explains Linnea Bågander, continuing: ”A body is not just a physical body; it is also defined by movement. The body’s movement depends on what sorts of material the clothes consist of and what form they have. Here I look at the body’s aesthetics but also not based on the normal divisions of the body, that’s to say, I don’t divide it into waist, bottom half, and top half, rather I look at the body and its movements and, based on these, how the movement can be maximally expressed. For example, walking, a bodily movement that perhaps is mostly clearly expressed through looking at the body in relation to body halves rather than a top and bottom half. Parallel. A skirt, however—it hides large parts of the walk’s expression.

It’s said that researchers shouldn’t speculate about what the research will lead to, but if you were going to do that regardless, what do you think?

”I look for mechanisms in areas that can take different expressions. Based on that, I’d like to find a system, I want to do a sort of aesthetic mapping of the body with a focus on movements’ spatiality.”  

Linnea Bågander’s builds on practice-based design research. She collaborates with those from other professions but with interests in the same special area. Within artistic design research, the focus has long been on the theoretical, which is of course also important, but Linnea Bågander believes that physical experiments are also important.  

”I want people to be able to look at my experiment and think, ’Aha, is that what she means’” says Linnea Bågander.