Published on : Thursday, January 1, 2015
In this particular incarnation, the Fiber Optic tapestry takes the form of two self-portraits. Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese, pioneers of digital art, are known for using untraditional material to create their works. With these new pieces, the pair challenges the conventions of tapestry and portraiture, rebooting the concepts for the information age. To create this tapestry, fibre-optic panels have been woven together on a hand-loom, and merged with a computer controlled lighting system. Information from the internet is then relayed through the fibre-optic threads. In the case of the self-portraits, data from the artists’ Fitbits (devices that track physical activity) is visualised through algorithms creating changing patterns of colour and light.
“It’s like weaving information,” Ligorano says, adding, “We wanted to make a textile using contemporary communication materials and processes, to redefine the role of a tapestry in contemporary culture.”
Weaving epitomizes social interaction. Textiles have a shared history throughout the worlds’ culture and throughout time. In European culture, medieval tapestries tell narratives, and in the 21st century, we found our stories threaded and throughout the web. The Fiber Optic Tapestry is an art form about networking, communication and society.
Inspiration has been drawn from eclectic sources, including Renaissance portraiture, Josef Albers’ work on colour theory, Anni Albers’ development of weaving as well as the woven silk portrait of Joseph-Marie Jacquard created in 1839 on a programmable Jacquard loom by Didier, Petit et Cie in France.
It is made from hand woven fiber optics. There has never been anything like it. It fuses traditional arts, digital electronics, interactivity, and data scraping with contemporary art. It is a new media canvas, woven from information, using fiber optic thread to carry information and data from the internet in the form of light.
The artists debuted the tapestry called 50 Different Minds at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles as part of the zer01 Festival in San Jose. The piece measures 50 by 50 inches. It displays patterns and colors that relate to Twitter Tweets of color words. It also uses air traffic data from the nine busiest airports in the U.S. Horizontal and vertical lines on the tapestry’s surface move in real- time, synchronized with the longitude and latitude of arriving and departing flights.
Visitors can also interact with the tapestry by tweeting additive and subtractive color names. The tapestry is programmed to display colors in response to tweets written using the expression #optictapestry and then color words.
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