Artists Hand Weave Tapestry from Fiber Optic Thread

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Two artists want your help constructing a nine-panel fiber optic tapestry. 

Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese have launched a call for cash on Kickstarter, the popular micro-patronage site, to cover the materials cost of the handwoven project. 

The fiber optic threads are connected to LED lights, which are controlled by a computer that can create different patterns. They'll be sucking in information from nine busy airports and monitoring Twitter for keywords related to Josef Alber's Homage to the Square, so the tapestry is a data visualization platform in a sense.

Our inspiration came from the idea that the Jacquard loom was the first computer using punch cards. We wanted to expand on this to marry traditional hand-woven crafts with information technologies. The element of the hand is a critical factor through all stages of this project: from weaving on a loom, to the way the electronics are integrated with the fiber optic threads.

Take a look at the video on the Kickstarter site, and an earlier, scaled-down version of the project. There's something delightful about these artists' mix of futuristic and nostalgic. It's stuff like this that makes me realize we're actually living in the future: fiber optic thread is now the kind of common item from which art is made.

Once the tapestry is finished, it'll be displayed at the International TECHstyle Art Biennial (ITAB) at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, an institution that I'm willing to bet you've never visited.

Via Andy Revkin

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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