The Embroidered Computer
The Embroidered Computer is an exploration into using historic gold embroidery materials and knowledge to craft a programmable 8 bit computer.
Solely built from a variety of metal threads, magnetic, glas and metal beads, and being inspired by traditional crafting routines and patterns, the piece questions the appearance of current digital and electronic technologies surrounding us, as well as our interaction with them.
Technically, the piece consists of (textile) relays, similar to early computers before the invention of semiconductors. Visually, the gold materials, here used for their conductive properties, arranged into specific patterns to fulfill electronic functions, dominate the work. Traditionally purely decorative, their pattern here defines they function. They lay bare core digital routines usually hidden in black boxes. Users are invited to interact with the piece in programming the textile to compute for them.
Images above: The Embroidered Computer, detail: Textile relays connected through gold embroidery.
The Embroidered Computer and technical connection drawing in the background.
The Embroidered Computer, in operation: Individual relays switch and consequently pass through signals to perform the calculation based on the instructions given.
The Embroidered Computer, details top, bottom: The computer from the top, left the connections to input signals, the far right row shows the output. A detail of the embroidery and the same area of the embroiedery from the bottom. There visibel the connections to the braided power lines and through the linen fabric the gold embroidery on top.
Schematic drawing of the computer logic. (Drawing: Matthias Mold)
The Embroidered Computer, installation view. Input prototype, The Embroidered Computer and technical drawing on the wall.
Irene Posch, Ebru Kurbak
Computer circuit design and simulation software: Matthias Mold
Generative routing: Raimund Krennmüller
Embroidery consultant: Susanne Frantal
Metal thread consultant: Sophie Fürnkranz
Crafting assistants: Pascale Ballieul, Abdulrahman Ghibeh, Ramona Hirt, Ngo Thi Dao Nha, Katta Spiel, Isabella Wöber, with special thanks to Eva Ganglbauer, Anna Masoner and Angela Posch
Video documentation: Ulrich A. Reiterer / UAR Media
Funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF): AR 284-G21 in the Programme for Arts-based Research (PEEK).
Istanbul Design Biennial. September 20 – November 4 2018. Yapı Kredi Kültür Sanat, Istanbul, TR.
Stitching Worlds. April 9 – April 27 2018. AIL-Angewandte Innovation Lab, Vienna, AT.
Embroidering A Computer (work-in-progress). January 30 – February 3 2017. AIL – Angewandte Innovation Lab, Vienna, AT.
Irene Posch and Ebru Kurbak. 2016. CRAFTED LOGIC Towards Hand-Crafting a Computer. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA ’16). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 3881-3884. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/2851581.2891101