A&HA 5128: Research, Explorations, Materials, Tools

Currently my project areas of interest center around the transformation of pixels into physical matter. I’m kicking around the term “re-representation” of pixels, since pixels are often a digital representation of natural matter, they might then be considered as reconstituted or “re-represented” if we made a pixel form again out of natural matter. It all sounds strange, but I’m feeling engaged all the same.

What are some areas that I can research related to my project ideas?

I’m currently scouring the Web for 3D build projects that are communicative as one way to explore this idea of physical pixels. So far I am really enjoying Chris Fenton’s “Pixel Weaver” which is an “entirely mechanical, punch-card driven, bit-mapped display”.

There are two main components to the machine – 1) a 32-hook Jacquard-style punch card reader (suitable for mounting over a small loom or any other device in need of mechanical control), and a 6×5 pixel, black and white display.
 Fenton, Chris. “The PixelWeaver.” Chrisfenton.com, www.chrisfenton.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/pw_hi.jpg.

In his documentation, Chris cites inspirations from a LEGO builder using the handle Ancient James who has also built a flip dot display with a LEGO “punch card” reader for input. The build is pretty excellent and was featured on Hackaday.

All those punch card references got me thinking about jacquard looms. I wondered what it would take to build my own mechanical loom. Some searching led me to an interesting artist named Pamela Liou, who is a Project Resident at Eyebeam and is currently researching the design of a DIY jacquard loom. She calls the project Doti, and it is still in development, but I am eagerly awaiting project updates.

Doti Loom: First Look from Ms. Pamela on Vimeo.

What are some concrete things that I can explore during work time in our next class?

I think that I will likely attempt a rebuild of the single pixel mechanism from Ancient James’ LEGO flip dot display. I would be fun to reverse engineer the mechanism.

I will also explore the WOVNS computational textiles platform. They offer short-run access to jaquard looms under specific resolution and color constraints. Thinking about looms, textiles and fabric arts makes me want to explore the tool, which I came across this Summer when delving into resources shared by the Processing Foundation. It could be interesting to explore their tutorials for using Processing to generate textile patterns, which they could fabricate for a fee.

What materials do I need now?

At this stage I feel that my potential materials are pretty straightforward: LEGO technic parts if I choose to explore a display, and/or Processing code if I plan to explore patternmaking on the WOVNS platform.

What tools do I need now?

My tools are one in the same as my materials at this stage: LEGOs and/or the Processing code editor.


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