When Material Sciences meet eTextiles and Human-Computer Interaction…
Ars Electronica 2020:
Topographie Digitale is an interactive installation. This landscape uses electrically functionalized and pleated textiles as sensitive surfaces reacting to touch to interact with a video-projected digital clone of this scenery.
The project is an illustration of hybridization between our scientific discovery and traditional craftsmanship as a “creole” technique, a fundamental subject of research for our collective. We have, in this case, collaborated with the pleating specialist Maison Lognon, to investigate the combination of augmenting a textile both with new electrical functionality using in-situ polymerization, as well as the new physical affordances introduced by the patterns and textures of the pleated fabric. The pleated fabric, functionalized by this chemical treatment and the electronic system give birth to a material with a mixed heritage that is both technological and traditional, a prefiguration of a potential emerging craft. The combination of crafts and technologies is an alternative to rethink the place of the digital in our society in a more resilient way.
This project was born from a research collaboration with international and interdisciplinary teams from France (DataPaulette + ShaderLand), Portugal (CENIMAT), and Germany (HCI Saarland + Kobakant), and we shared this discovery as a research publication:
…but as a collective focused on Art & Science, we obviously had artistic projects in mind, and this page is where we document it.
In our hackerspaces and research labs, we explored musical textile interfaces and we used a commercial piezo-resistive material (pressure sensitive). The only good one was expensive and became almost impossible to get because of a new exclusive contract with another company.
We thus went to a Material Science lab in Portugal specialized in the field and we analized the sensor, to make our own DIY process, simple enough for the kitchen of our hackerspaces.
The process is described in the videos below, but also documented online.
In our interactive installation we pushed the polymerization even further and not only made the sensor piezo-resistive but also conductive enough for capacitive sensing!
To make this challenge even harder, we mechanically functionalized our interface with a passive haptic feature created from pleating. To do so, we worked with a secular craft shop in Paris, France: « Ateliers Lognon ».
Their traditional expertise is documented in the following video: