(Tech session with Dom Breadmore)

Looking at the ever-narrowing gap between the human and the technical, we began this session with an acceptance, in principle, of The Singularity. In making new work, the idea is to take this as a given, especially in the realm of wearable technologies and e-textiles.

So we got to have a good look at/feel of a number of conductive threads and fabrics, as well as insulating fabrics such as plastics and neoprene.

Using e-textiles and ‘soft-circuits’, we can create the same devices and outcomes as when we’re using wires and hardware, but instead of soldering, we use needles and thread to make stitches and tie knots.This is traditionally seen as ‘women’s work’, and so these methods have been utilised by activists and feminists to create new work. This brings a different aesthetic to work created in this way, even though the tech/ideas are basically the same. I was definitely drawn to the tactile-ness of the thread and the fabric. Sewing is something that comes naturally to me, I can understand it in an almost unconscious way, so I’d like to transfer this intrinsic knowledge into working with more traditional tech – something I’m only just figuring out. Perhaps it would come easier, if using familiar tools and methods?

We also looked at some of the tech that is made specifically for use with e-textiles, and smaller tech that works well with wearables. Arduino Lilypads are circular modules with holes to stitch thread through, rather than pins for wires to be plugged into. There are a number of Lilypad add-ons, such as tiny LEDs with holes for sewing into things

Moving away from fabric and wearables, I’m thinking about how I could use conductive thread and circuits with paper – something I work with a lot – and as an extension of that, in bookbinding. Books could be bound using conductive thread, copper tape could create flex sensors which would activate as the pages of a book were opened and closed to trigger text, noises, LEDs, EL wire-drawn pictures. A book could ‘come to life’ in your hands, respond to your actions or voice, offer different ways of engaging with it. There are so many possibilities. This is definitely another avenue I’m looking forward to exploring more in the future.