Artists Hand Weave Tapestry from Fiber Optic Thread

By Alexis C. Madrigal

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

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/07/artists-hand-weave-tapestry-from-fiber-optic-thread/59610/