Slow Technology & Maggie Orth’s Message


26 April, Cambridge, MA_Maggie Orth  artist and technologist, of International Fashion Machines and  MIT Media Lab PhD spoke at the MIT  Design and Computation Group Lecture series today.  She showed many of her double woven, color changing textiles in photograph and video  to show both texture of the textile and video to show the temporality of the textile pieces.  This video snagged from’ Youtube shows her piece titled 100 Electronic Art Years from 2010.    It is shown in time lapse.  The piece is made of cotton, rayon and conductive yarns as well as silver ink and hand printed thermochromic inks.  More information can be found on her website here

If you have ever traced a shadow line across the floor wall or other surface as the sun traveled its path over a day you can get a sense of the speed of the color change.  The change is at first imperceptible but as you start to look the change is so minute but so fast you do not even know that it has changed.  In the case of the shadow, the edge has already moved from your pencil position as you start.  This is similar to the effect experienced in Turrell’s work Skyspace in Houston link here: .  The speed of Orth’s color changing woven textiles, take a person back to a slower more modulated time. Lars Hallnas and Johannes Redstrom write about this type of reflective temporality in the article ‘Slow technology:  designing for reflection’ the reference link is here:

Embedded in this temporality of natural things  is a question about how things return to the earth.  How should designers and artists account for a recycling of composite materials, microchips and other toxins that cannot be recycled?  What are the ways in which designers and artitsts can  invent ways that these new materials can be re-purposed, remade, recycled?

Computational Textile Events in November

Hello, if you are interested in computation and textiles, there are three events in the Boston area the early part of November that you will want to attend.

The IFAI is in town, or the Industrial Fabrics Association International from Nov. 6-9th at the Boston Convention Center.  There are many interesting programs concerning building and textiles.

On Friday 9 November, 9:30am- 12:30pm  I have organized  a seminar at the IFAI fair titled From Building to Body:  Current Research Into Interactive and Technical Textiles. A Panel of 5 speakers from MIT, OCAD U Toronto and the GSD at Harvard will present and discuss their works ranging from the architecture to affective wearables. Here is a link:

Monday,  5 November – 14 November  Exhibition titled  Patterning by Heat:  Responsive Textile Structures.  Keller Gallery, MIT School of Architecture and Planning,  Building 7-408.  Heat activated knitted textiles will be presented by myself and collaborator Delia Dumitrescu, PhD Candidate at the Swedish School for Textiles in Boras, and Chalmers IT. The gallery is open M-F 9am-6pm, and by appointment.  Here is a link:

Saturday 10 November there will be a hands on workshop, High Low Tech Lab, 5th Floor MIT Media Lab. 1pm-4pm titled Textile Sketches: Heat Fused Textile Demonstration.  Delia Dumitrescu and I  will show participants how the fabrics in the exhibition work and many additional samples. Participants will make their own patterns.

All are welcome to attend any of these public events.  See you there!

Electronic Weaving: Textiles and Mind

Charlieplexed Textile Map

Charlieplexed Map

How many things hold what we remember?

The theme of this year’s Sigradi 2011 held in Santa Fe Argentina 18-20 November chaired by Mauro Chiarella and Maria Elena Tosello , looked at the question of Augmented Culture and the intertwining of digital and physical space that create a new fabric of life, and perhaps a new  concept of mind that determines how  people interact today.

As a way to understand the idea of a mind, which was proposed by Marvin Minsky in his book the Society of Mind, the Sensing Touch:  Soft Architecture project presented at Sigradi, is a prototype for a conductive knit curtain that sensed nearness or absolute touch on the curtain and output the distance in various patterns of led’s on the curtain panel.  The panel also had soft solar film strips that captured energy to help power the output.  The paper is posted at Sigradi or CuminCad.   In this project,  mind, is expanded as it were to the textile itself creating a feedback loop between it and a person’s skin.

Here is a video of the Sensing Touch Curtain:

Sensing Touch Curtain Open from fadstudio on Vimeo.

A second paper Telephoning Textiles:  Networked Soft Architectures was also presented and looked at how a textile could become an indexing agent.   A textile map of all 50 states in the U.S. indicated by a led, was lit up according to the area code of the cellphone that was calling it.  An electronic weaving technique was used to expand the register pins of the microprocessor, in this case a Lilypad 328 from Sparkfun.  This made it possible to light up all 50 led’s one for each state in the U.S. using the 14 pins available on the Lilypad.  This paper is also available through the Sigradi or CuminCad website. Below is an image from the Telephoning Textiles: Networked Soft Architectures paper.

Textile Map Accessed by Android

Some of the most interesting issues that came up in the discussion during the Sensing Touch Curtain presentation were making it possible for other people to plug into or connect to the sensing touch curtain project, that it could not only be a understood as a curtain but seen as a mobile patchwork quilt that allowed connection with others, and that different events could be sparked off the interaction.  A kind of Interactive Gees Bend quilt that changes the look of technology and how it is accessed.  Here is a link a website showing the quilts., but it may be best to just google images for the quilts to see the remarkable panoply of designs together.

UpcomingForm Active Structures Workshop for the Industrial Knitting Course at the Swedish School of Textiles in Boras Sweden  between 6-10 March.

I will also present a lecture titled  Soft Architectures  at the Design Seminar Series on  6th  March.  More information at the link.

More on this later…