Loom – Ars Electronica

“Which handcraft emerge from the
enclosing? No other as the art of the wall
fitter, this is, the mat weaver and the
tapestry worker.”

Gottfried Semper, Die vier Elemente der Baukunst.

We interpreted the Ars Electronica Façade as an electronic tapestry which can be interwoven by the participants through an electronic loom. The installation resembles the production process of an actual Loom, enabling the participants to select interactively the points and the colors that are going to be interwoven to the existing fabric. The resulting tapestry is shifted around the Ars Electronica Building.

This picture shows a detail of the interface with the Ars Electronica Center in the background
Detail of the interface

Loom was presented in the Ars Electronica Festival 2009. Developed with Martin Leopold Grodl.

The concept of this project is based on the theory suggested by Gottfried Semper in the book “Four elements of architecture”, where he concludes that the early façades were closely related to the tapestry work, as textiles were used to protect and enclose primitive constructions. “The oldest ornaments are those, that either build themselves through interweaves and knots, or could be done with a wheel and the finger over soft clay.”

This origin remained unconsciously in other types of materials like stone, brick and concrete. Our presumption is that the media façade from the Ars Electronica center is nothing but a contemporary result of this tendency, materialized in an electronic tapestry. “The character of the posterior constructions followed that of the former image. The paintings and sculptures from wood, metal or stone, were and persist in a later tradition an imitation of the colorful embroidery and fence work from the former tapestry walls.”

The tapestry, as concept, led us to design a tool which empowers the people to participate in the design of the façade. The architect in this case, provides a tool which can be used by the people to generate a pattern which will be presented in the façade. Evidently, the tool produced resembles the traditional weaving machine, namely the Loom.

This is how the electronic loom was conceived. It enables the creation of an electronic tapestry work, which is transmitted to the electronic façade of Ars Electronica. The production steps of an actual Loom were kept in the electronic version. First, it is necessary to choose which threads of the weft remain visible, which color is to be interwoven, and when the current line is ready, the thread can be pushed into the existing tapestry.

This picture shows the interface with the Ars Electronica Center in the background
The interface with the Ars Electronica Center in the background
Loom - Ars Electronica Center
The interface with the Ars Electronica Center in the background

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