DIGITAL CRAFT / collective quilt
membrane or screen,
the place where contact between
two entities occurs.”
Alan Kay, 1972
In first place this project intends to explore the physicality of
interfaces as surfaces of communication and self expression.
Drawing on the Lansdown model, this artwork intends to use technology
both as a tool and a medium.
The aim is to create an immersive experience both physically and
Focusing on the process rather
than the final object, this installation piece wishes to encourage the
visitor to participate actively to the artwork, interacting both with
the ‘membrane’ and the other visitors of the gallery.
The framework of the artwork is carefully designed,nevertheless, it has
an open interactive potential.
Better explained, the artwork
creates two separate stages and only if at least two visitors
participate at the same time and decide to share their point of view
with the other, they can fully grasp the piece.
this project intends to integrate Art and Design fields, informing one
practice with concepts borrowed from the other and vice-versa,
stressing on the field of Textiles and Craft.
I aim at
re-contextualising traditional craft in the contemporary frame of
‘digital craft’, envisioning generative production methods for
innovative design practices.
The folklorist technique of
quilting and patch-working are digitally reproduced in the piece, the
haptic qualities of the material transposed to the interface.
The rituals related to the traditional crafts are here re-interpreted.
The requirement of dialogue
between visitors in order to understand the artwork represents
the transmission of experience between generations and the collective
production of folk art.
The ‘fabrication’ of the quilt
becomes generative, the surface animates, changing continuously
depending on the different approach of each visitor to the interface.
The installation also draws on
the idea of two faces of a quilt, where the hand-stitching work is
hidden, being at the same time the only key in the understanding of the
process of production.
Influential to the development
of this concept have been the Quilt exhibition at V&A Museum in
2010 as well as the work of Ernesto Neto, whom has always used stretchy
materials to deform space and create immersive haptic experiences.
As previously mentioned, the installation is divided in two stages.
First the visitor enters a
space where a rigid frame covered by a tense lycra fabric hangs from
the ceiling and creates a membrane. A wii remote controller is embedded
in the fabric, it is used both to activate the system when detecting
motion on the surface and to send values. A camera recording the
visitor in the interactive process is placed on the side of the
membrane, perpendicular to the framed fabric.
In perspective the fabric is seen as a straight line when still, this
line splits in two symmetrical parts the video input.
The part of the video recording
the visitor in front of the fabric is used to produce visual effects,
whereas the part of the video recording the other side of the fabric is
used to sample sound. As the material used is a stretchy lycra-nylon
fabric, the touch of the visitor easily deforms the surface, but
not the frame. The sound of a sewing machine is sampled in
response to the deformation.
On the other side of the lycra
wall, a video output is projected. Here viewers that participated in
the previous stage can now see the quilt generated by the interactive
In fact, the video input is
processed in Max Msp to create different textures. A random combination
of textures is applied to meshes resembling a digital patchwork created
in Open Gl. Each mesh creates a different element on screen, each
element is independent but contributes in concordance with the rest of
the elements to the final effect. The acceleration values on the x, and
z axis received by the wiiremote influence the rotation and the number
of facets of the meshes, adding further personalisation to the result.
Finally, when the wiimote
values stabilise, meaning that the person left the room and joined the
other visitors at the other side of the membrane, the video returns to
a version of the meshes emptied of the textures and auto-coloured.
When I first started to develop the patch I didn’t feel comfortable to
work with Max.
Despite my initial hesitation,
I am satisfied with my progression in the
understanding of the IDE and the logic behind each operation.
I successfully realised the steps I had originally in mind.
However, having built
physically the prototype of the interface to test the idea, I realised
that in case of an exhibition, I should build a wooden structure,
more stable and reliable.
The fabric used is also too
transparent and needs either a further layer, either to be replaced
with a thicker one. The hypothetical space of the exhibition should
separate the two spaces with walls, the first room should be lighted
while the second room should be dark for the projection.
A limitation in my project is certainly the poor implementation of
audio in comparison to the visuals.
Coming from a Print design background I am naturally more interested to
experiment with images rather than with sounds.
I also noticed that the part of
the video to which the effects are applied is heavily influenced by the
corresponding wall. As the final quilt rendered is quite abstract
and colours play an important part in it, I should maybe consider
to paint that wall with different colours, or to think of another way
to process the video. However, I like the fact that the person is not
recognisable in the final quilt, and that the whole piece is an
abstraction both of the video and the values of the wii.
To complete the experience, I would like to develop an application that
sends a screenshot of each interaction to a website where the images
would compose the "collective" quilt.
The concept of personalisation is quite important as well. In some
cultures the tiles of the quilt represent scenes of important moments
in life of people belonging to the community.
I could stress on the communitarian and almost site-specific aspect of
this traditional craft and involve people in the collection of images
related to the area of the exhibition that could then be integrated in
The patch is the result of
personal work. However, I must reference the lectures of Bruno
Zamborlin, that helped me to understand how to use OSC messages.
I also looked at the effects listed in the tutorials written by Peter
The rest of the patch has been developed with the help of the
references and help patches of Max 6.
To follow the whole process of this project pleas visit the related
There is further documentation, videos, inspiration, links.
<DOWNLOAD THE PATCH>