STEAM at Work: “Translating” Science into Dress

TEXTILE: Cloth and Culture
Armida De La Garza
STEAM at Work: “Translating” Science into Dress
Textile Cloth and Culture

…Today, it is science that has come to be regarded a religion of sorts for secular times, a ‘master narrative’ with claims to truth, and with which to make sense of the world and our place in it. Casting, for instance, emotions in terms of ‘hormone discharges’ such as oxytocin, vasopressin and dopamine instead of in terms of ‘previous experience’ or in terms of ‘being rid of ancestral fears or pre-dispositions,’ science enables us to have a feeling of control over our lives, thereby enhancing a sense of well-being. See for instance "Negligee (Serotonin)" by Laura Splan. The molecular structure of the neurotransmitter serotonin, also known as ‘the happy chemical’ as it contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness, has been machine- embroidered on remnant cosmetic facial peel resembling delicate lace, also translating, in this case happiness, into an item of clothing/textile art…

Armida de la Garza

Negligee (Serotonin) featured in research article on textiles art and translation

TEXTILE: Cloth and Culture
“STEAM at Work: “Translating” Science into Dress”
by Armida De La Garza
December 2021


Translation is considered a highly effective means for introducing new ways of thinking and inducing significant cultural change. At a time in which collaborations between STEM and the Arts are perceived as a necessary cultural change, this article employs the concept of inter-semiotic translation to explore the role that textile art in the form of dress and accessories can have translating, metaphorically, scientific concepts and ideas into a material incarnation, and what is at stake in this materiality. As the discourse around the art/science dichotomy is a gendered one, the article employs feminist translation as the theoretical framework to shed light on the agency of the artists/translators who contribute not only to the dissemination of science across national and cultural borders—between “the two cultures” of arts and science—but who may also play a role in the constitution of scientific discourse itself, since the textile metaphors they construct may eventually bear upon the scientific concepts that develop.


Armida de la Garza is Senior Lecturer in Digital Arts and Humanities at University College Cork, Ireland, where she also lectures in Women’s Studies. She is interested in collaborative, interdisciplinary research that bridges the gap between science and the arts. Her recent research projects include internationalising the curriculum for STEAM and working with students as partners in virtual international mobilities. She started her academic career as a translator.