Nirma Madhoo

Nirma Madhoo

RMIT PhD Student

Research Summary:   ‘Digital Fashion Bodies: Performing Posthumanity in Virtual Reality’ situates at the intersection of fashion studies, digital art and media studies. Decolonial and feminist thinking motivate for a posthumanist framework and towards a critical but affirmative and generative practice.

The initial question of ‘what is a digital fashion body’ unfolds to ontological multiplicity, rather asking what digital fashion bodies do. As image-objects, digital fashion bodies have an entangled relationship with visceral bodies, and in their digital materiality, present a hybridization of the surfaces of body (skin) with digital textile surfaces and fashion artefacts; Deleuzian Body without Organs. These formations decentralise the human shape by being able to fold/unfold to posthuman formations. Using the non-narrative stylistic approach of fashion film through 3 projects, this practice-based study stages fashion bodies as scenographic cyborgian assemblages that perform in digital baroque (Munster 2006) contexts, phenomenologically folding fashion and the fashion image onto each other.

Within the networked image, real-time VR and metaversal contexts as digital diorama and affective spectacle point towards onto-epistemologies that offer new possibilities for imagining & becoming; for exhibiting & experiencing fashion; as well as the sociotechnical premises for the deterritorialization of fashion media for transformative praxis.

Biography: Nirma Madhoo (she/her) originally trained in fashion design (BTech, MTech: Fashion) in South Africa and went on to launch her fashion filmmaking practice in 2015 after completing a MA in Fashion Photography at London College of Fashion. She also has a teaching practice since 2007 and is currently a PhD candidate on unceded Wurundjeri land in Naarm/Melbourne at RMIT University.

With a specific interest in emerging technologies and fashion in the digital space, Nirma’s fashion films and XR projects draw from the visual language of popular science and science fiction. Computational data captures, 3D procedural and fashion design software, game engines are some of the tools used for asset design and digital world-building. Nirma’s work has exhibited in for Melbourne Fashion Festival at Melbourne Museum and MARS Gallery, as well as internationally at events such as; London Short Film Festival, Aesthetica Short Film Festival, Berlin Fashion Film Festival, Berlinale EFM; NXT Gallery and Fak’ugesi Digital Festival, Johannesburg; and MUTEK, Montréal.

Supervising Professor: Dr Sean Ryan

Supervisors: Dr Alison Bennet and Dr Tom Penney


Mannequin head and shoulders made of wire

Image: Nirma Madhoo (2022). Process render, 9318.