“The CharmingBurka sends a self-defined picture of the wearing person to every mobile phone next to it. The project researches about clothes with a digital layer that is different to their first optical impression.

Project description
The Charming Burka deals with Freud’s idea that all clothes can be positioned between appeal and shame. The Burka was chosen, because it is often perceived in the west as a symbol of repression. A digital layer was added so that women can decide for themselves where they want to position themselves virtually. The Burka sends an image, chosen by the wearer, via Bluetooth technology. Every person next to her can receive her picture via mobile phone and see the women’s self-determined identity. In the artists interpretation the virtual appeals can not be gathered by the laws of the Koran and so the Charming Burka fulfills the desire of living a more western life, which some Muslim women have today. Therefore the Burka is equipped with bluetooth antenna/micro-controller and uses the OBEX protocol, already working with most mobile phones.

Although the “Charming Burka” is positioned in the context of religion, this project should be seen as a research towards the future possibilities of everyday clothing to own a digital layer and transmit additional information about its wearer. It questions which information people would choose to send. For example this might also be an image of their “Second Life” avatar.

A project by Markus Kison
e-Mail: baisen[AT]

Sponsor / technology
The prototype is realised with the bluetooth marketing solution Bluebot ( developed by Haase & Martin, the mobile marketing company in Dresden/Germany. Seamless is a fashion event featuring innovative and experimental works in computational apparel design, interactive clothing, and technology-based fashion. This year more than 1000 visitors attended the show in the Boston Museum of Science. Model Meiver De la Cruz presented the Charming Burka on the catwalk while the audience could receive the portrait of the model on their mobile phones.”

Saudi police ‘stopped’ fire rescue  /  15 March, 2002

“Saudi Arabia’s religious police stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress, according to Saudi newspapers. In a rare criticism of the kingdom’s powerful “mutaween” police, the Saudi media has accused them of hindering attempts to save 15 girls who died in the fire on Monday. About 800 pupils were inside the school in the holy city of Mecca when the tragedy occurred. According to the al-Eqtisadiah daily, firemen confronted police after they tried to keep the girls inside because they were not wearing the headscarves and abayas (black robes) required by the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Islam. One witness said he saw three policemen “beating young girls to prevent them from leaving the school because they were not wearing the abaya”. The Saudi Gazette quoted witnesses as saying that the police – known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice – had stopped men who tried to help the girls and warned “it is a sinful to approach them”. The father of one of the dead girls said that the school watchman even refused to open the gates to let the girls out. “Lives could have been saved had they not been stopped by members of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice,” the newspaper concluded. Families of the victims have been incensed over the deaths. Most of the victims were crushed in a stampede as they tried to flee the blaze. The school was locked at the time of the fire – a usual practice to ensure full segregation of the sexes. The religious police are widely feared in Saudi Arabia. They roam the streets enforcing dress codes and sex segregation, and ensuring prayers are performed on time. Those who refuse to obey their orders are often beaten and sometimes put in jail.”

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