Reflections on RATAVA'S LINE


When "Ratava's Line" made its on-line debut on April 23, 2003 it modeled a paradigm shift in several disciplines - fashion, animation, story telling, technology, education, communication, marketing, - and was immense fun for all involved. The goal of the collaboration was to open the door to new possibilities and be the starting point of collaboration between disciplines.

Although the live event was time-based, the project is not over. The response from people present in both locations, as well as the students and visitors who dropped in wearing their own avatars, has stimulated thinking about future adaptations and presentation of the project.

The project had it's start in the fall of 2002 when Daria Dorosh, Fashion Design teacher at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, was invited by Steve DiPaola, Interactive Arts teacher at Simon Fraser University, in Van Couver, BC,CA to participate in an experimental collaboration between their students in two disciplines, fashion design and interactive arts.

None of the students or faculty have ever met. All communication was by cell phone, email, and internet. Bruce Damer and Galen Brandt from the Digital Space Corp. assisted the live presentation at FIT in New York. The software used to create the space was Adobe Atmosphere, a new 3d program making its debut this summer..

“Ratava’s Line” had the elements of a FASHION RAVE IN CYBERSPACE.

It was fashion, fiction, animation, art gallery, meeting place, perhaps a young form of contemporary myth-making, with role playing by visitors represented by avatars, all in a 3 dimensional social space that has strange gravity and scale.
At one point Bruce Damer walked through a model's garment on the inside of the clothes, through the folds. We were very surprised to find ourselves enveloped in this strange world.

The SFU and FIT students wrote the story together - which developed into a spoof of the fashion world. They invented a cast of fashion characters - Ana Winter, fashion critic, the Teat twins, rich & arrogant, Holly Dayinn, sweet innocent model, Igorr, a has-been designer waiting to make a come-back. They designed garments for them and for model robots, got original sounds composed for the event, and created several distinctive rooms where the story unfolds and visitors came to mingle and solve the mystery that takes place during a showing of Ratava's collection. There were also clickable galleries of student work created in a new software, Adobe Photoshop Album.

During the event, students and an audience at two campuses, FIT and SFU, interacted online in cyberspace with additional participants coming in from around the world. (A huge eyeball showed up from somewhere and joined the fun!)

On the east coast at FIT, the room was filled with an unlikely
mix of people - fashion design students who were in the project, FIT deans, VPs, faculty, chairpersons of various departments, as well as Valerie Steele, Director of the Museum at FIT, N.J. Wolf, Director of the library and collections at FIT, Jeff Young, writer for the Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times, Ken Perlin of the NYU Media Lab, Dominique Nahas, art writer and curator in NYC and Canada, John Tomlinson, artist and Director of the New York Studio Program, Ian Epps, sound artist and educator, among others.

People have asked - is it a game? Is it for sale? Actually, on April 23rd it was more like an interactive play/mystery story/introduction.

It is so rich with possibility that we don't know what it is, but we do see lots of spin-offs, like marketable 3D stories & games, a global place to hang out for fashion designers where they can gossip & meet in the dark cocktail lounge in Ratava's world, see young design students' work, even a place where you can order your own personal animated avatar character to wear when you visit...

Perhaps the most significant outcome was that in working together, the students created a new world which was never open to fashion before. It had the raw edge of their youthful exuberance, demonstrating a meeting of two disciplines - animation and fashion, laced with a wicked sense of humor.

- Daria Dorosh

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