Taiknam Hat (2008)

[In collaboration with Ricardo O’Nascimento.]

Taiknam Hat is a kinetic head-wear that reacts and animates in accordance with the changes in its surrounding medium wave radio signals.

This project is an alternative attempt to materialize the immaterial space of radio waves by emulating horripilation, an automatic instinctive reaction of living creatures to sources of irritation and stress. Horripilation, which can be defined as the erection of hairs or feathers in various species under certain emotional conditions (better known as goose bumps in human body), is a temporary and local change in the skin and claimed to be evolved as a part of the “fight-or-flight” reaction by some biologists. Numerous experiments on various animals report that animals respond to exterior threats with a reflex of their nervous system which results in either the animal fighting (anger emotion) or fleeing (fear emotion) and horripilation can be clearly observed in the moment of both reactions. Other than the primary emotions of anger and fear, in some animals, especially in birds, horripilation is also attached to another instinct, the instinct of “self-display/signaling”.

Taiknam Hat aims to utilize the biological facts regarding the causes and properties of horripilation in birds as a metaphor, in order to express our bodies’ irritation towards electromagnetic radiation as well as to create a visual and tactile signage of their existence for other people. The final idea of creating a kinetic headwear which provides a contemporary interpretation of the historical feather hats is moreover encouraged by the scientific findings that show that feathers themselves may act as microwave sensors. Therefore, the headwear employs a number of actual feathers. The feathers hat are mounted on the Taiknam Hat become activated and move according to the existence and amount of medium waves at a certain location while the person who wears the hat strolls through space.