Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Textile Narratives & Conversions: Proceedings of the 10th Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, October 11–14, Toronto, Ontario


Copyright 2006 by the author.



In many essays and texts on the subject of art and science, the questions of collaboration and the points of discontinuity in disciplinary practice habitually surface. For example, C.P. Snow’s commentary on the ‘two cultures’ (as popularized in the Rede lectures in Cambridge in 1959) is frequently cited as a challenge to establishing a meeting place for artists and scientists where stereotypical expectations might be broken down. More weight, however, can be credited to Einstein’s acts of expansive thought, and the potential of what is yet to may come into existence through the open-ended processes of investigation, experimentation, and of collaboration and creative chances.

Textile Translation and Transmissions: Electronic Cloth

The project Electronic Cloth refers the ability of fabric to impart meaning through the narrative of as a form of communication. The integration of animated surface displays provides an opportunity for complex and changing layers of meaning as the audience, in an exhibition environment, interacts with the cloth, in this case a woven structure.

The project, “Electronic Cloth,” is in its early stages as is part of a wider one entitled, “The Narrative Cloth: Textiles, Translations and Transmissions.” It is directed by Professor Barbara Layne. The projects include an interdisciplinary team of artists and scientists investigating the production of expressive, intelligent fabrics through the introduction of electronic devices. Barbara’s current research involves the creation of dynamic textiles by integrating Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) and electronic circuitry into the structure of hand woven fabrics. My own involvement is at level of advising on material production and establishing a conceptual framework for the overall project. Barbara Layne and I have an established record of collaboration, as we have both been concerned with issues of identity and the translation of textiles within and across cultures.

Patterns and texts will be related to issues of cultural identity. The array of LEDs present the changing patterns and scrolling texts, rather like an electronic message board. The programmable surface is made interactive with sensors and other triggers. Eventually an internal wireless communications system will allow mobility and facilitate remote interactions.