River Marquardt

Personal Exoskeleton

Class of: 2023

Major: Communication Design BFA

Medium: Wood, acrylic, video, iPhone, combination of multiple media

Faculty: Aviva Shulem

Prompt: During the first 5 weeks, students will research and explore the notion of our senses, focusing on the sense of touch. How does the body react to touch? What emotions and physical associations it evoke? Touch can be physical or can be emotional. In this project, students will research the structure of insects’ external shield. How does it function? What characteristics, it has? Based on this research students will design a Wearable Exoskeleton. This exoskeleton will serve as skin; it can cover your face, arm, leg, or any other part you chose. Consider, how would you express these attributes in a visual way? Focus on the 3D design elements: How lines become form? How can lines create a volume?

This concept stemmed from my passion for sports. The way my spine/back feel and function before a game greatly affect how I play, let alone the fact that it is such an important part of the body for all aspects of life. Personally, I find myself slouching or sitting too long with bad posture, so I really wanted to make a piece that is functional, bringing attention to a part of the body I believe is greatly overlooked. I took inspiration from exoskeletons and wanted to create this piece that will help support and protect the wearers back from bad posture and strain. I mimicked the design from the actual anatomy of a spine so that the wearer could still function normally, just now with added support. It isn’t completely functional although it does bring my attention to my posture when I am wearing it. Midway through I got the idea came to incorporate music. I would use a phone and headphones to recreate the nervous system on the spine that would send signals to the brain (The music). I am really thankful for my friend Donovan, a musician and architecture student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who I was able to work with on this project. He allowed me to have my own unique playlist that I am really happy with. To hold the phone, I just created a little box that would represent the sacrum, and then connected the individual vertebrae pieces with string. For the top, I made a piece to hook the shoulder straps into and would still allow the strap to be adjustable. On the sacrum, I used the dremel to cut out a strip to run the waistband through and then clipped the two straps together so it functioned like a backpack.