Sarah Nelson Wright (Brooklyn, NY) 
January 2018. Photo, video, audio documentation for augmented reality tour. Above: Photographs from factory visits, Photo Credit: Sarah Nelson Wright, Rimona Law. Below: Interactive map with respective locations.

Invisible Seams, an ongoing project with Jennifer Stock, is an augmented reality walking tour centered on the globalization of the fashion industry. Invisible Seams’s first iteration takes place in SoHo, New York City, an international center for fashion consumption. Participants experience SoHo in virtual reality; using their smartphones they superimpose narratives of workers, activists, and theorists onto billboards revealing how clothing is made today.

An essential voice not currently present is that of textile factories that provide safe, stable, and well-paying jobs. Elsewhere is located in a textile town and region of the US where many people are still employed in textile and garment work despite the precipitous drop caused by the globalization of the industry. While in residence, Wright visited 3 ethically-run factories in the area to learn about their process, document their work and lived experience.

She also researched local denim history, visiting the Textile History Museum and historic Cone White Oak selvage denim plant, which closed its doors after 112 years in 2017. Surrounded by North Carolina’s rich textile history and present, based in a town sometimes called “Jeansboro,” and living amongst Sylvia’s historic textile collection, Elsewhere was a perfect home base to investigate these themes.

This project ties together present-day garment factories in Sri Lanka, India, and the United States with the history of American manufacturing and labor movements. This experience prompts a framework for engaging with the broader consequences of globalization and its relationship to climate change, uneven economic growth, and human rights violations.