After I wrote this piece for Warehouse Review last year I began thinking about Nicolas Gesquière’s “collision of times” in the F/W 2020 show for Louis Vuitton and his work in general. It occurred to me that AI has the potential to similarly collide or collapse time. In principle, an algorithm could be trained on a vast dataset of historical and contemporary fashion to generate timeless fashion looks. Millions of words and images about ‘timeless fashion’ have been published in books, magazines and online over the years, but with an increasing awareness of the threats to our environment and the social harm caused by the industrial fashion behemoth, this desire for fashion that transcends time has ever more resonance.
I am currently working on a project in association with UAL’s Creative Computing Institute to try to generate ‘timeless fashion’ images and ultimately work with a designer to generate the look materially. At the moment I have more questions than answers both philosophically and technically. I am already becoming aware of the limits of AI and machine learning to tell us something new, or to do more than help a designer sidestep their own human creativity algorithms. However, the process might demonstrate how to disrupt the dominant fashion system through the plotting of different actors (human and non-human) in the fashion assemblage. Using the lens of fashion to try to articulate the time or temporality of AI will also be of interest.