Meggie van Zwieten is a digital artist from the Netherlands. Her work revolves around escaping into illusory digital environments. The strong feeling of alienation drives her to find alleviation in digital surroundings. By working multidisciplinary she tries to build a welcoming digital environment, to bring individuals closer to this world in order to be able to experience it for all its positive possibilities and potential. And hereby also aiming to use digital means to create awareness around sustainability and equality. As an artist she wants to create an accessible environment in which one can find relief, beauty and escape. With her creations she strives to generate astonishment that cares for curiosity, leading to an urge to further explore the digital environment.
Hey Meggie! Tell us a bit about yourself, as well as the philosophy and concept behind your creations?
The digital domain is evolving daily and is moving towards an alternative reality parallel to physical life. I see the digital environment as an extension of the physical world in which we have the opportunity to form new foundations and construct a cyber-humanity capable of giving essence to virtual existence. We are constantly adapting the physical environment to meet people's needs. It's time to leave nature alone and find our desires in digital landscapes. By embracing the digital layer, new ways of living can be found in which we can be more sustainable.
By wearing digital fashion, we can make a statement against mass production. Fast fashion has a problematic impact on the world. Therefore it’s essential to dress more innovative. I view virtual fashion as a new medium, not as an extension of physical fashion. And I think this new medium has the potential to lay more focus on the individuals instead of on the mass. Digital garments are hybrid and transformative and can herewith complement ones personality. With my background as a digital artist, I want to investigate whether fashion in the context of digital platforms can offer a new perspective. This relative to what physical clothing currently represents. Garments are currently often related to genders, stereotypes or cultural history. Clothing in the digital environment can offer the opportunity to explore new forms of clothing and break free from these associations.
I recently released my digital clothing collection YANA. A collection I worked on for over a year and that came together in collaboration with designers artists and partners. The collection will focus on creating new forms of clothing within the digital sphere. The conceptual focus will be on sustainability, equality and inclusiveness. The aim is for digital fashion to become an essential part of expression and communication within digital platforms. The collection consists of 13 looks. Within the collection you will find avant garde garments with a sci-fi aesthetic but referring to nature. There is also a part of the collection that focusses on the individual, to exemplify how fashion should connect to personal expression instead of consumerism. The collection is brought together with collaborations of various artists from different backgrounds. YANA will hopefully open your eyes to the possibilities of dressing virtually.
What do you find most inspiring and what is the significance of digital fashion?
I see virtual fashion as a new form of fashion because the process of creating, wearing, and use of materials is so different comparing to physical fashion. We don’t have to think in practicalities or take laws of physics into consideration. Therefore we can let our wildest fantasies be translated into garments. Garments can become interactive and can focus on individuals instead of on the mass. Clothing can merge with someone’s identity by reacting on certain emotions or physical features. For example if you have a great smile, you can let something grow out of your garment every time you smile to enhance the facial gesture!
And of course it’s sustainable promises are very important to me. Nevertheless it still takes data and energy to create digital garments, it will still make a big difference when it helps put a stop to overproduction. I think it will be almost impossible to change the behavior of the consumer to where they will stop feel the need to buy. I think that digital fashion fits this need for constant change very well. Digital fashion is modular, you can change your garment from pink to black in just one mouse click.
How do you think digital fashion will be integrated into society in the future?
For now we can wear digital fashion whenever there is a digital interface involved, and I hope we will. Ideally we should soon go to wearing virtual garments on social medias and in the entertainment world instead of wearing physical garments. This way we could already have a big impact on overproduction and put an end to the need for fast fashion in the context of online identity. Influencers who promote shopping hauls for fast fashion chains will hopefully be part of the past soon. And I think eventually, AR will be playing a bigger part within society. I believe that the virtual layer will merge with our physical lives soon. Once this happens, we can start wearing digital garments in daily live.
How do you envision your digital fashion creations to be used? How do you want your audience to interact and interpret your designs? What aspects in your art creates awareness around sustainability and equality? Do all your pieces express these values?
The garments I created within the YANA collection are all avant garde sci-fi looks with references to nature. I think that momentarily, we as humans, lost our connection to nature. Therefore I’d like to propose the digital world as a new space where we can start over and learn our core values again. Every look is based on a plant of animal that encounters negative consequences because of climate change. I hope that the people who wear my garments can become aware of not only the beauty of digitalism but also of natural shapes. I want to celebrate the beautiful shapes that can be found in nature and simultaneously create awareness to take better care of our planet. Also when selling my garments I will donate a part of the profit to Cool Earth and Awaj Foundation.
Next to that I hope to show that the garments can tell personal stories and can fit every size. I collaborated with three individuals to create garments that match their personal values and preferences. I want to bring across that every body shape, gender or identity can be praised within the digital world and hereby hope we can use the virtual space to set new standards regarding equality.
Do your pieces act as bridges between the physical and the digital realm, or do they naturally gravitate towards a fully digital environment?
I believe that the most interesting things happen when the digital and physical world are merging. I am a big fan of surrealistic things and love when the contrast between the two are visible but still are working together. In my opinion we should not try to recreate physical things in the digital world and the other way around. I see the two world as separates that sometimes can come together. When showcasing the YANA collection at Fashion For Good I also offered the possibility to try on the garments in AR. During the show itself I was walking the runway while a virtual garment was projected on me on screen. And visitors could try on garments in AR in 75 inch screens, to give them the feeling of looking in the mirror.
I hope technology will keep evolving so we can extent this AR experience even more!