“For Electric Dress Atsuko Tanaka designed a Kimono-like dress out of electrical wiring and painted lightbulbs creating a colourful spectacle. Tanaka began to envision the dress in 1954, when she outlined in a small notebook a remarkably prophetic connection between electrical wiring and the physiological systems that make up the human body. After fabricating the dress she wore it as if taking part in a Japanese wedding ceremony.” Tanaka, by reinterpreting the kimono, was pointing towards the change that had occurred in the traditional Japanese society in the post-war period.
She was part of the Gutai movement in Japan that was a response to the US’ nuclear bombing of her country, and many of the artworks in this movement used the artist’s body as its medium. Electric Dress was simultaneously sculpture and performance and was important in the forging of the tradition of wearable art that would become a staple of feminist art.
Later on, with the feminist movement of the 70s, her work was re-interpreted. In the place of a feminine kimono, Tanaka had covered her body with phallic lightbulbs and a shower of electrical cords. To be a “turned-on” heterosexual woman, then, came at the price of her transformation into an object that illuminates the phallic domain. http://faculty.njcu.edu/fmoran/midoriarticle.pdf