Anthropomorphizing nature through costume design: A visual essay

Anthropomorphizing nature through costume design: A visual essay
Author: Keeley, Adele (1 December 2019)


The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 14 and 15 outline a broad concern for us to take better care for our lands and oceans and act on the negative anthropogenic impact that we, as humans, are having on this planet. However, I propose that many of us see ourselves as separate from nature and lack a connection with it. This, in turn, affects the way we treat it. In this research I explore how we can frame our futures by telling visual stories about the land and sea and the geological foundation of the world we live in. This is achieved by exploring the relationship between natural landscapes, earth sciences and the ‘bodily’ canvas. By presenting examples of costume and textile design in response to a specific brief this visual essay introduces the notion that by anthropomorphizing nature through costume design a sense of connectivity between humans and nature can be bridged. Although there are many examples of how nature has been used as a springboard for garment design this article draws attention to theories explored in social science that claim if we attribute human characteristics to natural forms we feel greater connectivity towards it. I present ideas that using the visual detail of the landscape and by exploring the opportunities of how these can be embedded into costume design we can create a playful public engagement performance tool. This approach has the potential to, not only investigate new ways of interpreting landscape and geology through a costume-design-led performance model, but also challenge the way people think about the natural world with the potential to foster pro-environmental behaviour.

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