July has a been a huge learning month for me at the Hacktory. All of us artists have been working on initial project implementation and I have basically thrown everything I’ve learned so far, incomplete or otherwise, into a chaos engine to see what comes out. Some of the things I’ve learned:
- Making lights blink with Arudinos or Lilytinys is quite satisfying!
- Sewing tiny things to other tiny things and mapping routes so connections don’t cross takes a lot of time when you’re dealing with garments.
- Conductive thread frays everywhere, keep your working area neat so it doesn’t get on your project.
- Fabric moves, so your conductive thread connections need to be very stable so they don’t cross or short.
- Place your switches carefully, so you don’t have to sew long distances.
- El-wire controllers hum distractingly.
- And living moss is conductive (thanks Leslie Birch!) – which could lead to some cool living garment ideas for the future!
I also, learned how to use processing better and to animate text and create mouse activated fun, but I’m still struggling through some of the more mathematical aspects of the language and figuring out how to make it work for my art. My July project turned out to be a rough draft concept where I integrated several things I learned about circuits and processing into a dress. My idea was to explore the concept of wearable ‘space’ and ‘place’ or ‘wearing’ where you live. Using a LilyTiny controller, 5 LEDs, some el-wire, and some additional found materials, I created a mini map of Woodlands cemetery in West Philadelphia on a strapless dress. The LEDs lit up points on the map, including the stables and mansion, and the el-wire lit the path of the the Schuylkill River. This very basic prototype wasn’t completely interactive (yet), but in discussing it with Hacktory fellow, Robert Spahr, I began to see some ways I could harken back to the Fluxus projects of the 60s to create an imagined installation synthesizing a ‘performance’ and my ideas. So I imagined a text which could be projected on the dress or in the room that explained the piece or instructed an interaction in some way between performer and audience. The phrases scrolled on the screen as follows in a continuous loop:
- Turn off the lights.
- This is an address.
- This is processing.
- This is a map.
- This is a performance.
- This is a dress.
- This is not a dress.
- Turn on the lights.
I’m still figuring out how to integrate programming into my work, but I’m starting to see how video and projection might lend itself to some interesting performative-slash-object based work. As I continue to familiarize myself with available materials and take classes, my end project ideas will likely keep shifting around. Now I want to do something with Arduinos and/or projection mapping. Let the learning continue!