design, research, TEI°10, wearables

Conducting Fabrics by Sarah Kettley

Sarah Kettley presented woolen garments that are conductive and by that can be used as sensors. I am very interested in the now upcoming approaches of mixing up technology and fashion. There allready had been several trys to bring circuits into a flexible or maybe less rigid shape. For example the e-motion project of the University of the Arts Berlin, which was a collaboration between the department of fashion design and the Fraunhofer Institute for micro integration. In the project the students explored the possibilities of textile computing using bendable sensors and circuits, new innovative textiles or print colours and of course flashy LEDs. It was quite a success, so it was exhibited through out the fashion week in Berlin and the Ars Electronica in Linz. Here is the video showing the results of the four month project.

Back to the work of Sarah Kettley. She linked the garments to a cellist and micro controller. The cellist is playing a harmony or musical piece with his electronic instrument as he is used to. The conductive garments are woven into a flexible hose worn around the elbow. By stretching the arm while playing the cellist has the opportunity to either delay or distort the sound he is playing (of course the instrument must be linked with the computer as well). The wished effect has to be set before. As much the fabric gets stretched the voltage running through the fibres changes. This change can be read and transferred into a digital command. Though I like this project very much I think it´s just a first step in a right direction. The combination of sound and movement is tricky and easy at the same time. People find it interesting because they do not understand the link between actuator and result. Sound allows a much more blurr than for example kinetic output that is more direct and undoubtable. But hey: it´s just an exploration! Now let Sarah do the talking:

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