High WAter Pants: Intersections of Cycling and Climate Change

Master of Design Thesis; 2018-2019
Speculative tangible tools for the everyday cyclist at the intersection cycling and climate change.

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Project Description:

The culminations of my Master of Design thesis, the High Water Pants were designed to speculatively explore the intersections of everyday cyclists and climate change. Because climate change is difficult to perceive at the scale of everyday life, the pants were designed as a cycling-specific garment which ‘bends time’, layering future sea-level rise predictions over the ride-in-progress through subtle, tactile cues. The pants work by actuating and dynamically shortening within areas predicted by NOAA to be impacted by sea-level rise in the future which were translated into geofences. The pants leverage cyclists’ embodied knowledge of Seattle’s geography and climate into ways to notice and speculate about their futures with higher sea levels.

The experience of using the High Water Pants offers cyclists an impression of the future overlaying the present by making sea-level rise data into a subtle tactile experience that unfolds geographically as one rides their bike around the city. The pants offer ways for cyclists to reflect on their entanglements within a changing climate (as people who are exposed to the elements on a daily basis) and imagine scenarios for cyclists set in a climate-changed (yet still geographically familiar) future.


Publications / Exhibitions Featuring High Water Pants:

  • Textile Intersections Conference Exhibition, 2019, London, UK

  • Arcade Magazine Issue 37.2, forthcoming.


Further Reading and Process Documentation

I documented this process extensively through a series of medium articles which discuss research methods, design process and making process.



 
Close up of the High Water Pants in the ‘up’ or ‘shorter’ position.

Close up of the High Water Pants in the ‘up’ or ‘shorter’ position.

Map from Seattle public utilities showing predicted sea level rise in Seattle

Map from Seattle public utilities showing predicted sea level rise in Seattle

Map with proposed geofence overlay (blue) and geofences I have currently built (red)

Map with proposed geofence overlay (blue) and geofences I have currently built (red)

 
 

Crafting the High Water Pants

Through much trial, error, experimentation and prototyping, I developed a way to make pants move up a riders leg while they were pedaling via live GPS actuation within geofenced areas. Below are process photos showing the development of the pants.

 
 



Exhibiting the Pants

I designed this exhibition for the UW MDES and MFA show in June, I am also in the process of sending a similar exhibit to London to be featured in the Textile Intersections Conference Exhibition in mid-September.


 
Exhibition as it appeared at the MDES/MFA thesis exhibition at the Henry Art Gallery in May and June 2019

Exhibition as it appeared at the MDES/MFA thesis exhibition at the Henry Art Gallery in May and June 2019