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pepi ng

nyc-based designer interested in the intersection between art and technology
Stained Underwear
By Pepi Ng and Julia Daser
🥇 Grand prize in University of Virginia's "Data is Art" Open Call and exhibition
“Stained Underwear” sheds light on the often hidden and stigmatized inconveniences people face throughout their lifetime because of menstruation.

Drawing on Pepi's raw and intimate period data, this project aims to visualize the labor, time and resources menstruating people have to invest into coping with their periods. We hoped to bring a topic that is usually hidden behind closed doors into a public space. 
Video explaining the piece, Stained Underwear, by Julia Daser and Pepi Ng. This piece consists of a sink with a bloody, stained underwear in it. Next to the sink is a robotic arm with a brush attached at the end. 
1. Brainstorming
This project started out of confusion as to what was happening in my body.

Ever since I started using birth control the past year and a half, my menstruation has been extremely irregular. For the first year, I had no periods at all, and for the next half of the year, my periods started arriving at weird intervals, and would last up to 3 weeks. 

When that happened, I found myself always having blood leak through my underwear and scrubbing my stained underwear in my bathroom sink to get the stains away almost every day. My mother was the one who taught me to hand-wash my underwear from a young age, so that we don't have to waste too much water in the laundry-machine. 

I started thinking about the amount of time and resources (water, detergent, manual labor) that I physically make use of, and go through, when scrubbing my own underwear. And with that, I started also thinking about the amount of money I have spent on sanitary products, and what this meant for the broader population who might not have the resources I have (aka period poverty).
Brainstorming notes 
2. Collecting data
I started recording the number of times I had to scrub each stained underwear every night.
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My raw data
Gif of me scrubbing my stained underwear in my bathroom
Handdrawing my data out
3. Sketching, iterating, building
Julia and I wanted to mimic how I would scrub my underwear in the bathroom with an actual sink, to bring to light what often goes unnoticed behind closed bathroom doors. 

By using actual underwear in the project, we are boldly addressing the concept that periods should be made more visible and talked about.

The repetitive, monotonous, and continuous movement of the robotic arm points out the big amount of labor invested in menstrual care, and suggests that the issue of stained clothing is recurring in menstruating people’s lives.

We followed How to Mechatronics' tutorial to build our first robotic arm.
Building the first prototype
4. Prototype 1
Our first prototype mainly consisted of 3D printed materials. 

We first focused on making it functional- ie. making the water pump working, and making sure that the robotic arm and faucet worked as intended.
Collage of images of our first prototype of Stained Underwear
5. Prototype 2
We wanted to make our project look more polished. We changed the 3D printed sink for a real, mini sink. We also 3D modelled and printed our own, customized robotic arm from scratch.

Moreover, we created a wooden box base, which contained all electronic components as well as the water tank. 
Julia working on the electronics inside the wooden box
Me working in Julia's apartment
Julia and I making the wooden box
6. Final piece!
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Collage of images of our second and final prototype for Stained Underwear
7. Fun with Julia at University of Virginia, School of Data Science
We won grand prize for University of Virginia's School of Data Science "Data is Art" open call and competition! 
Pictures credit University of Virginia's School of Data Science
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