Valerie Lamontagne

Artengine's UNHANDED

Valerie Lamontagne delivered an electrifying artist talk that traversed the dynamic intersection of fashion and technology. With a whimsical twist, Lamontagne embarked on a journey through the alphabet, offering a visual compendium that encapsulated the multifaceted landscape of wearable technology.

From “Art” to “Big Data,” Lamontagne’s discourse navigated through diverse realms, highlighting the fusion of artistry, innovation, and functionality within the realm of wearable tech. Drawing upon historical references such as Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet and contemporary pioneers like Anouk Wipprecht, Lamontagne illuminated the collaborative ethos driving this emergent field.

Emphasizing the absence of a hierarchical structure within wearables, Lamontagne underscored the inclusive nature of this epistemic culture, where disciplines like textile, fashion, and engineering converge in a symphony of creativity. Through examples spanning biofabrication, interactive garments, and health monitoring, she showcased the transformative potential of fashion tech in enhancing our daily lives.

As Lamontagne concluded her presentation, the audience was left with a profound sense of curiosity and contemplation, poised to explore the myriad possibilities that await at the nexus of fashion and technology. With her insightful commentary and engaging delivery, Lamontagne offered a captivating glimpse into the boundless realm of wearable artistry.


This presentation was part of the symposium Unhanded. In this panel we ask about the variety of new relationships with materials that emerging with the increasing ubiquitousness of digital technologies. With the increased complexity of tools we wonder how do we learn about materials? How do we get to know them? How do we share this knowledge? We can now know the molecular structure of wood or metal without touching it. Is this a more intimate relationship than working directly with our hands? Does it matter? If the objects coming out of digital and mechanical processes are more removed from our handywork, how might they carry the mark of the machine? Should we be able to read the machine in the material?

The University of Concordia invites you to donate to a fund to honour Valerie’s legacy and memory.

To donate, please visit the following link:

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Valérie Lamontagne was an artist-designer and PhD scholar who specialized in “Performative Wearables: Bodies, Fashion, Technologies and Laboratory Cultures.” She conducted her research at Concordia University, where she also taught in the Department of Design & Computation Arts. Lamontagne curated and collaborated on numerous design and media arts exhibitions and events, notably “The Future of Fashion is Now” at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, Netherlands (2014); “TechnoSensual” at MuseumsQuartier in Vienna, Austria (2012); “Clothing Without Cloth” at V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media in Rotterdam, Netherlands (2011); “Electromode” at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, Canada (2010); “Sartorial Flux” at A+D Gallery, Columbia College in Chicago, USA (2006); “Ellipse” at Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, Canada (2002); and “Location / Dislocation” at the New Museum in New York, USA (2001). Her artworks and designs were featured internationally across festivals, galleries, museums, and in various magazines and publications. She was the owner and designer of 3lectromode, a wearable electronics atelier known for its avant-garde crafting and consulting in fashionable technologies. Additionally, she founded Agence Simultané, a post-digital incubator and production company.

From 2001 to 2017, Valérie Lamontagne was an adjunct professor at Concordia University, where she earned a PhD with a dissertation entitled “Performative Wearables: Bodies, Fashion and Technology.” In February 2018, the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences appointed her a professor of Fashion Research and Technology at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute. Her career was cut short by her untimely death in 2019.

Every time someone asks me so wow amazing fashion tech is going to save the world. I just immediately think of how incompatible that vision is with the kind of waste that we’re creating. We’re basically putting electronics into textiles, which is something that should be recyclable and we’re making it not recyclable.

Wearables as a kind of epistemic culture doesn't have a hierarchy right now.

F is for Fashion

Valerie Lamontagne

F is for fashion. So fashion, as we know, is not just the the garment, it’s not just the item. It’s also it is a hierarchy. It is a kind of lost system. You’re in, you’re out. This is the wonderful work of Otto Von Bosch. He’s at Parsons, and he creates these performances with fashion police, fashion, bullying. Are we in or are we out? How do we fit into that ecology? Because it’s, you know, a rough world out there. G is for gadget. I mean, God only knows. And Joey Brzeski is here, who’s also a colleague at Concordia. We talked about wearables and it meant all kinds of things. And then all of a sudden, Apple, you know, showed up and said, hey, it’s a lot you know, it’s a it’s a wrist thing. You stick it on your wrist or maybe on your head, but perhaps not anywhere else on your body. And I would argue that it’s larger than that, but that’s a really important space for it. H is for health. So of course we’re looking to wearables to give us to provide us with new ways of self-monitoring, of distance monitoring, of leading better lives, more aware lives. Or I’m Single is a montreal company that has developed a biometric shirt. So that’s one of the platforms for that eye is for interaction. Is that right? Did I get it right? Okay. Yeah. So this is a wonderful piece by Benalla’s Farahi, which is the caress of the gaze. So the garment actually reacts to your presence too. You’re looking at it. It responds like it like an animal who might sort of like, shiver and move around. So how do we create conversations that are completely visual, completely kinetic, a whole new platform for that? J is for jewelry. So beyond gadget, which might appeal to more of a kind of male sector jewelry, they’ve really tried to kind of market jewelry, accessories. So again, we’re back on the wrist, but we’re looking at how can it be a luxury item? And there’s tons of this out there. Case for knitting. Knitting is a really important part of developing smart fabric, smart textiles and new ways of producing fashion tech. Nike developed its Flyknit running shoe, which is all made of one piece. So zero waste. So kind of like an interesting direction. Ellis For laboratory where we make things and we’ve discussed this a little bit so far, is really key to what will be made. It was, you know, one of the chapters in my dissertation is really looking at these epistemic cultures and how the laboratory shapes the outcome, not just the tools, but the culture, the philosophy, the ideas behind it.

V is for Visualization

Valerie Lamontagne

V is for visualization, so LED screens. Why not there on garments? This was the work of cute circuit with a twitter. Was it a twitter op? I think so. That could visualize Twitter feeds and the work of Moritz Valdemar, who creates for a lot of these like boy bands, these led garments. So, you know, like Bono and take that can have these funky jackets W is for waste every time someone asks me so wow amazing fashion tech is going to save the world. I just immediately think of how incompatible that vision is with the kind of waste that we’re creating. We’re basically putting electronics into textiles, which is something that should be recyclable and we’re making it not recyclable. So obviously this is something that we’ll have to, you know, to think about in the extremely near future. Extreme environments drives. Oops, little sweaty finger here. Hold on. Okay. Is driving a lot of research. This is a wonderful spacesuit developed by Neva Newman from MIT to look at how a three dimensional spacesuit could make for a more ergonomic experience for space travel. And I love that they tested it out on a woman. I guess maybe their argument was like they’re more curvy. So I don’t know, you know, but, you know, I think it’s still you know, it’s it’s a platform that always has a good argument. You know, firefighters, space travel, so on and so forth. I’m almost at the end Y is for you. So how do you fit into that space? And this is a wonderful musical stew made by Ricardo Nascimento and Z, which got a little bit slipped around there. It’s for big data, so we can be sure that y big companies want to sell you wearables is that they have access to a whole new data set.

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