Origins of the word ‘Bodification’

The title of my collection is ‘Bodification’ – a blend of the words ‘body’ and ‘modification’.

My initial focus for this project was body modification including piercing, scarification and other manipulation of the body. Body modification is something I have had an interest in for many years and since the start of my degree course, I was waiting for an oppurtunity to explore this with my designs. Trying to find a title for the project was very difficult but in the end, Bodification just fit.

Blending two words to create a new one was inspired by the Cut Up technique in literature, something that I had explored in my initial research inspired by the Pandrogyne Project, an extreme body modification project embarked upon by artists Genesis and Lady Jaye Breyer-P-Orridge. This cutting up and reforming of the body inspired my pieces visually; as I wanted them to appear as pieces of the body manipulated, rearranged and reformed.

A page from my portfolio showing exploration into the Cut Up method and the Pandrogyne Project

The word Bodification also describes the relationship my work has to the wearer. Each outfit is made up of the individual pieces I call Bodifiers. These pieces extend, alter and exaggerate the body. Through this process, the wearer becomes more than a body. They become Bodified.

Birth of the Bodifiers

After my draping experiments and beginnings of exploration creating 3D squishy body shapes, I continued developing my techniques making abstract shapes to represent the manipulation and moulding of the body.

As large amounts of stuffing was required, I did some research and found an ebay account linked to an upholsterers who sold the off cuts from foam padding by the kg. This is more environmentally conscious than buying wadding or stuffing as the foam is a waste product that would otherwise be discarded. It’s also much more economical in the volumes I needed it in than kapoc or other synthetic stuffing options. I love the different colours showing through the fabric and the texture. It’s reminiscent of cellulite patterns and the colours of fat deposits, veins and bruising found on natural bodies.

From my portfolio, some initial concepts made on photoshop for how the pieces could sit on the body and become garments.

In case you were wondering, this is what 10kg of foam looks like. By the end of my project I had used 20kg.

Needle play/play piercing exploration

Here I took inspiration from needle play, a form of temporary piercing where hypodermic or piercing needles are inserted into the skin to create designs (sometimes very intricate and decorative). It’s usually associated with S&M and can be performed as part of fetish shows.

These needles were purchased from – a medical fetish website that sells genuine safe and sterilised medical equipment for use in fetish settings. This was the most cost effective way I could find them to purchase.

Using the needles as decorative attachments is definitely something I want to carry forward to my final collection.

Why did I change my name?

This is a question I get asked a lot as I am not secretive about my name change. Most people who know me will know that I changed my name when I was 16.

Taking control of my identity and how I present myself to the world is something that has been important to me all the way from childhood. I was always very headstrong and confident to show my personality and assert who I was in the world.

From around the age of 15 I started to feel it was strange that something that is such a huge part of your identity and who you are – your name – is something you don’t get to choose. Your name is one of the first things people learn about you when you meet them and the way you introduce yourself in the world. You can change your appearance, your personality, how you choose to be seen by people. But your name is something that is fixed. Decided for you before you have developed a personality or really know yourself. Often before you were even born.

This thought had consumed me so much I decided that changing my name would be the perfect way to take control of my identity. Every aspect of who I am is within my control. We all get to choose the person we want to be and choosing your name is the perfect representation of that.

My mind and my body are the only things I own completely.

Initial draping experiments

Inspired by Flesh Hook Suspension – an extreme form of body modification where a person is suspended from hooks inserted temporarily through the skin – one of the first ideas i explored was creating a garment with peaks similar to the way the skin is stretched when supporting a person’s body weight from hooks. I researched wet moulding leather and considered pleating techniques on synthetic fabrics to get this look.

On the left is one of the first draping experients from this project. I attached strings to the fabric and pulled it away from the mannequin to mimic the flesh being pulled during hook suspension.

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Introduction to my Final Major Project

For my final year project I decided to explore my passion for body modification. This is a subject I have had an interest in for several years now so I already had some good sources to start my research on. First two books on my reading list: ‘Modern Primitives’ by V. Vale and Andrea Juno, and ‘In The Flesh’ by Victoria Pitts.

These books have influenced the direction and aesthetics of my initial research greatly.