The Sound of Weaving (2009)

Running Time: 1 minute 33 seconds

The Sound of Weaving is an interactive installation that centers on five hand-woven cotton panels augmented with the ability to sense touch. As viewers explore the wall-mounted weavings with their hands, a sound response is triggered. All the sounds are pre-recorded from the weaving process itself which affectively links the listening experience of the viewer to that of the weavings' maker — such as the thrashing of the loom beater against the fabric, the dancing of the loom harnesses as the treadles are pushed, and the falling of a yarn shuttle onto the floor. Each woven panel in the installation is coupled to one audio sample, so touching more than one panel at a time acts to layer the sounds of weaving. This gives the viewer (or viewers) control over the complexity of the soundscape.

The Sound of Weaving (2009) The Sound of Weaving (2009) The Sound of Weaving (2009)
The Sound of Weaving (2009) The Sound of Weaving (2009) The Sound of Weaving (2009)

Conceptually, The Sound of Weaving aims to reacquaint people with the act of making. So deviated has our modern world moved from the familiarity with the handmade because of mass-production (largely in countries with cheap labour) that most of the objects and materials we use every day now carry little or no meaning. Particularly in the field of textiles, which holds centuries of rich tradition, we have become unconnected with the skill and craft that historically went into, and still goes into, producing items such as a blanket, a rug or a scarf. The Sound of Weaving through its blend of modern technology with traditional weaving practices is an attempt to reconcile our familiarity with the handmade, and regain our respect for the makers in this technologic age.

development

The Sound of Weaving was created as a final project to an Introduction to Weaving course I attended in 2009. All the weaving, as well as the electronic circuit development, was handled by me over a three week period.

To augment the woven panels with the sense of touch, I employed a basic Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) sensor setup. This was achieved by inlaying conductive thread within the panels while I wove them. Once the weaving was complete, this conductive thread was then connected to an Arduino microcontroller which was itself connected to a MacBook Pro laptop running a custom program developed in MAX MSP. As viewers explored the weavings through the skin contact of their hands, they effectively closed an electronic circuit which the Arduino sensed and relayed to the laptop, triggering the audio response.

technology

  • MAX MSP
  • Conductive thread
  • Arduino microcontroller
  • Custom circuitry