Fashion Forward

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The LilyPad Arduino


Demonstration of a shirt made with a mounted motion-responsive LilyPad


At first glance, it would seem that wearable computing and traditional craft operate in distinctly different realms of cultural production. However, Leah Buechley, a University of Colorado at Boulder PhD student working with the Craft Technology Group, bridges this gap by taking a homemade approach to the use of computation in clothing or jewelery. The LilyPad Arduino Kit allows for the construction of simple, but aesthetically innovative, computational jewelery made out of the environmentally responsive open source platform known as Arduino. According to Buechley's site, the LilyPad is "designed to empower novices to work with electronic textiles. Using the kit, you can build your own soft interactive clothing." Along with the necessary tools, the kit also includes a highly instructive tutorial that will provide those without a strong background in technology with the know-how to build their own arduino and apply it to their projects. Leah Buechley will lead a lesson on the LilyPad Arduino at Mediamatic's Designing Wearable Hybrids workshop from February 19-21 at Mediamatic, Amsterdam. - Gene McHugh

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Past to Present

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In 2000, electronic musician Kim Cascone proclaimed the emergence of a discernable "post-digital" genre, using the example of 'glitch music,' through which artists crafted "deconstructive audio and visual techniques" to test the limits and possibilities of their software. Cascone points to this tendency as the harbinger of a conceptual shift in art practice, in which "...the medium is no longer the message...specific tools themselves have become the message". Over the past few years, "post-digital" disassembly has run parallel to a more widespread interest in dismantling and refiguring analog technologies. Many of the artists selected for this year's Netmage, an international electronic arts festival held in the castle Palazzo Re Enzo in Bologna, Italy, reflect this direction. The live audio and visual performances slated for the three-day event, which kicked off yesterday, demonstrate a variety of methods by which artists work with and through analog hardware. TONEWHEELS, by sound artist Derek Holzer and media artist Sara Kolster, is inspired by the peculiar electronic music contraptions of the early 20th Century. Revolving see-through tonewheels form the locus of the performance, whose unwieldy movement across the lens of an overhead projector activates sound and visuals through light sensitive circuitry. The open exposure of the technology used in TONEWHEELS demystifies its inter-workings, revealing how rudimentary most systems are. Media artist Luka Dekleva, sound artist Miha Ciglar and musician Luka Princic draw on analog video feedback techniques in FeedForward Cinema, a project in which the trio perform distortion generated by a feedback loop between two video devices. Similarly, audio/visual group Demons (Nate Young, Steve Kenney, Alivia Zilich) produce stark, mind-bending analog video feedback alongside bleak, resonating soundscapes eminating from damaged vintage synthesizers. The overall jarring effect recalls 1960s psychedelia, yet is stripped of its joyful exuberance and deeply cognizant of the anger ...

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Signed and Numbered

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On January 18, Northwestern University's Block Museum of Art, located 15 minutes north of Chicago, will open an exhibition of major value to those with an interest in the relationship between art, technology, and design. Imaging by Numbers: A Historical View of the Computer Print surveys the work of over 40 international artists who have, since the 1950s, worked with computers to make drawings and fine prints. The show emphasizes artists who have penned their own code or collaborated with engineers to create custom programs for the production of images. The very concept of "drawing" is tested in works such as Ben Laposky's and Herbert Franke's photos of electronic wave forms (here the electronics do the drawing and the artist documents it), and the tools used to make the works range from DIY printers to fancy 3D-imaging software. Artists Lane Hall and Roman Verostko combine "traditional" and digital methods in their work, while Joshua Davis and C.E.B. Reas hack software programs to produce contemporary works. The sixty pieces in this show, curated by Debora Wood and Paul Hertz, are contextualized by a complementary exhibit called Space, Color, and Motion, which presents time-based installation projects by four artists exhibited in Imaging by Numbers: Jean-Pierre Hebert, Manfred Mohr, James Paterson, and C.E.B. Reas. The museum is also presenting an ambitious slate of public events, including gallery talks, studio workshops, a screening of early computer animations and a symposium entitled "Patterns, Pixels, and Process: Discussing the History of the Computer Print". This all adds up to one remarkable program. If you can't make it to Illinois, check out the slide shows and video samples online. - Marisa Olson



Image: Tony Robbin, Drawing 53, 2004

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