Initiated at DinaCon 2018 at Lone Island, sonic lace combines textile speaker making with needlepoint Teneriffe lace and attaches to plants in the local environment. It uses bioelectric signals emitted by the host plant to generate sound.
Initial experiments were carried out on the strainer of a a repurposed lemon press, later in the process I used a laser cut frame to weave the initial speaker part and commencing the lace-making. The lace is then finalised directly on the plant . The project is still developing.
In early summer 2017, Streetcat (https://www.streetcat.media/) participated as a node leader for the inaugural Digital Naturalism Conference (or DiNaCon), hosted by Dr. Andrew Quitmeyer and Tasneem Khan in Phuket, Thailand. Streetcat applied her project idea~ the Recycloom ~ in during the call for proposals for DiNaCon in early 2018. Her project idea encompassed building a textile tool that was made from recycled materials and utilized recycled plastics as string for making reused textile objects.
The final design for the loom came from a workshop that Streetcat took in early May 2018 at the Southeastern Fiber Arts Alliance where she built a strap on an inkle loom. The construction of the inkle loom is pretty simple, and Streetcat was able to source all the materials needed to remake it from various places like dumpsters, old woodworking projects, and Home Depot.
Before leaving for Thailand, Streetcat practiced making straps on an inkle loom that she borrowed from SEFAA, made a bunch of plarn, and constructed / deconstructed and packed the recycled loom ~ the Recycloom! ~ for the conference!
At the conference, Streetcat deliriously reconstructed the recycloom right after arriving at the conference from a 27 hour travel period from Atlanta to Phuket. There, she started experimenting with several stringing methods on the recycloom to play around with making straps out of cotton string and plarn. After working through a few projects, she started to teach other conference attendees how to use the loom with showing them: what the heck warp + weft means, how to make a shuttle out of cardboard, how to string the loom with plarn, how to make a patterned strap, and how to start/finish a project.
The loom lived on after DiNaCon by being adopted by Tasneem Khan and the Diva makerspace ship!
Thanks to Dani, Mark, and Umeed for help with documentation
We considered a new communication method for our tribe while adventuring within the island. We desired the ability to communicate in more tonal short messages like birds and other animals. This is part of our theory to try to design to engage and merge with nature, instead of designing ‘on top’ of nature or not considering nature and its inhabitants in design processes. Our idea further grew over curry and a tribe story writing session and then brought to life via the podcast episode Biobang 006.
Walking the on beach the first day on the island, we came across a tree with something stuck in it, and it was a tartan! Having an affinity for all things tartan, we found this serendipitously perfect for our tribeNETs textile needs. We were also able to find another small rag of the tartan in a nearby tree stump. We washed the textile and hung it to dry in the sun.
The pieces of tartan were patterned, marked and cut, beach side. Using string to translate live measurements and marking the pattern pieces with washed up beach coral pieces. I cut the pieces using first aid kit scissors and hand sewed the pieces together. I stitched the electronics to the wearable pieces and made the appropriate channels to protect wiring and cords. The last pieces to to be attached were the protective mesh shell forms over the esp8266 Node MCU modules. All pieces were constructed with reusability in mind, as if we were in actual survival, we’d want to be able to reuse and alter pieces as necessity and need called for.
Buckram shell castings
To create the mesh networks protective meshes, we cast buckram over various seashells from the island. These forms we created with water and buckram, and rubber bands from the dinner food boxes to hold the forms while they dried. After carefully unwrapping the dried formed buckram we were left with the mesh shapes to protect TribeNET electronic components.
The three wearables are linked together via a mesh network based on the esp8266 Node MCU modules. These nodes are easily programmable via the Arduino IDE, with the complexities of mesh network topologies abstracted out. Two nodes essentially translate an input signal into tones, sent to the output node (worn by Elizabeth). Each node included an addressable RGB LED stick which shows information about the mesh topology, including if a node is online or not. MQTT was utilized as the base data protocol for publishing and subscribing to the different nodes’ data stream.
The Camera node takes a live video feed and runs a kmeans clustering of the color information of the input video frame. The camera is mounted to the front of the wearer, giving the system a view in front of the hiking party. These predominant colors are encoded into tone and duration information and transmitted to the Speaker node.
The Proximity node takes a series of ultrasonic sensor inputs distributed along the height of the human wearing them and translates this “section” into tones. Because the sensors are distributed along the height of the wearer, the textile pattern extends from the shoulder to the ankle. These tones are transmitted to the Speaker node.
The Speaker node receives signals from the other nodes in the system and creates a melody which describes the current reality of the hiking party. The data from the nodes was strictly mapped from sensor signal inputs into tone and duration. The resulting melodies must be learned to be understood. The speakers were sourced from the airline headphones we received on our way to Koh Lon. The internal components were harvested from their plastic casing and rewired to the mcu. While this is a low power, low volume solution, it worked very well for the hiking party.
TribeNET was used on a hike through the paths of Koh Lon. During this hike the hiking party started to get used to the melodies created by the Speakers Node, These melodies were a combination of the sensor data, so it corresponded to the colors on the Camera Node and the ultrasonic sensors on the Proximity Node. While the hike was short, the party already could start to discern the melodies created when they were in different positions and next to different kinds of vegetation.
While the ‘TribeNET’ project started to be conceived prior to Dinacon, it really took shape on the island during a particular lunch where a story was conceived about a group of travelers that came to Koh Lon a few months in the future after Dinacon. The story also had inspirations from episodes of the Biobang podcast, especially the episode with the Bathisphere. In this story, TribeNET is worn by the party of travelers to become a part of nature, or at least, to try to understand nature and become nature themselves. This is because in the future (November 2018 in the story) many things had changed. Microplastic infiltration into everything led to a shortage of clean water like the world had never seen. Countries engaged in the latest of the Water Wars as citizens began to contract MicroAcrylisys (aka The Shine), a new form of skin disease that starts to produce plastic sores on the epidermis and is transmitted by drinking and absorbing microplastic polluted water. At first, this disease was confused as a trend as people began to accessorize their Shine sores with 3d printed parts and hot glued lab grown crystals. The TribeNET travelers are able to escape contracting The Shine by drinking water filtered by the Faircap (http://faircap.org/) and designing their TribeNET wearables. In order to warn the Dinacon participants, the travelers go back in time through a newly discovered, but very dangerous mode of transportation called Light House Jumping, or Light Jumping for short. This allows travelers to jump from light house to light house instantaneously, albeit to another point in time. Unprotected light house jumping causes immediate and advanced skin diseases so protective suits must be worn. Unfortunately, many light house jumping pioneers perished just days after the discovery due to unprotected light house jumping. The travelers jumped back in time to Dinacon at Koh Lon to share the future with the participants and to share their technical knowledge in hopes to steer the future away from the Water Wars, The Shine, and Distopia.
Agosto, arguable the most youthful member of the Dinacon crew, began his adventures on the island by drawing in the sand.
The island sand was much softer than the man made beach sand of his homeland, and he pondered these differences. He mused, what was home? He began to consider these questions while placing found coral in upright positions in the sand.
Upon seeing the variety of island creatures, such as hermit crabs and snails, he began to wonder how they viewed ‘home’, as they traveled with their shells on their backs. He sat for a moment, before drawing a large spiral in the sand and stared pensively at this simple view of a home.
He scavenged for his ‘homes’ nearby resources, and found fallen seed pods from trees, washed up pieces of old corals, and smooth sea pebbles.
He began placing the seed pods within the grooves of the spiral. In a nod to his homeland he began putting the coral pieces within the spiral spaces in a gaudi-esque style.
He finished the piece with it’s inhabitant snail, filled with pebbles.
Entitled Cargol, the temporary natural art piece, was meant to consider the transient meaning of ‘home.’
The piece remained beachside, changing colors as the pieces were weathered, wind blown and rained on.
An unplanned and rapid experiment resulted from an evening of swimming with the Dinacon group in the bio-luminescent waters. Wondering if it was possible to bring the glow of the dinoflagellates into a textile, I mocked up a sample using fiber optic threads and natural wool roving.
Using .25 mm fiber optic threads I tied knots in various locations of the thread strands to create the points of light, or “dinoflagellates.” Some used 2, 3, 4, or 5 strands and then knotted for size variation, in an attempt to create depth within the look of the textile.
I used 100% natural wool roving, which was torn into small pieces and laid out into the sample rectangle shapes in a criss-cross fashion, alternating directions in the classic style of felt creation. I made two of these wool pieces, each with 5+ layers of roving pieces.
The fiber optic stands were then gathered at one end and bound, and then I placed the bundle of fiber optic “dinoflagellates” on one layer of the wool sample, spreading the fiber optic threads out to cover the full area of the wool. Then I placed the second roving sample on top the fiber optics, sandwiching the fibers between the two wool pieces.
This was then stamped on by my assistant to begin felting and then placed into a undergarment laundry bag to be fully massaged by the sea.
The felting process was completed by the washing in the sea, with non-toxic dish soap and the waves pounding on the wool fibers. I rung out the textile and then hung it over a nearby tree branch to dry in the sun.
We tested the textile that night by plugging it into our LED dongle, and the textile illuminated, making a quick sample of a super soft bio-luminescence textile.
Technology separates us from nature, but does it need to? I used some of my stay at the Digital Naturalism Conference in Thailand to prototype a clock that determines local time of day from sunlight to promote a natural sense of timekeeping.
By using technology to encourage human relationships with nature, I hope to highlight that machines can encourage us to be *more* human and organic rather than slowly making people irrelevant. As a counterpoint to consuming industrialized time we can also obtain time from scratch, regaining control of the very pacing that drives our lives. The Sun Set Clock uses local solar time, therefore noon is when the sun is at apogee at our location. This is how time used to be measured, before telegraphs and transcontinental trains required a move to time zones, where the clock and the sun no longer match. This system isn’t concerned with exactitude–there’s plenty of systems to do that if you need it. Instead this clock can be used to mark the general progress of the day rather than creating anxiety around how every minute is used.
Sun Set Clock in its natural environment
The initial prototype uses light level changes to detect sunrise and sunset, with local noon being the point exactly between these two events. When the clock starts, it makes its best estimate of the time. For example, if it’s dark at startup, the clock assumes that it’s midnight because that’s the best guess you can make without more information. At sunrise, this corrects to 6 am (a higher-quality guess) and then at sunset it will correct to the proper local time (not time zone time but astronomical time at your precise location). All of this works, although it’s still a bit fragile–operating best in full view of the sky on a relatively sunny day. Dark clouds, deep shadows and porch lights can confuse it, so these will need to be addressed in a future version. For now, I’m enjoying what I think of as “some time of my own.” I hope you enjoy it too.
One of our conference node leaders , Kitty Quitmeyer (wellreadpanda.com), worked on creating DIY knitted and crocheted ocean microbes to raise awareness of the fun invisible creatures filling the seas with life!
Full documentation of all her Yancrafted microbes is on her website and in these instructables:
Research reported in this project was supported by the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative of the National Academy of Sciences under award number NAKFI DBS17. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative or the National Academy of Sciences.
Inspired by the microscopic creatures making the seas around her glow, Kitty Quitmeyer, created a yarn model. Just like the real creatures that bioluminesce when shaken, this yarn critter has a tiny Arduino and sensor inside that let it light up when perturbed.
Full documentation for how to make your own is available here!
Michael Candy, the world’s fastest robot tinkerer, created a slew of robots at Dinacon. One of his most sophisticated was the Tree Yabbie. This robot built and iterated upon in just a few quick days at dinacon is able to stick to the sides of trees and climb right up them into the canopy. It accomplishes this using a custom made undulating wire-brush drive and a re-purposed drone propeller.
Relax and listen to Gregory Hanks Green play the Khaen a traditional Lao/Thai mouth organ made of bamboo pipes, as colors reveal the garden forms of the Thai forest. Curate the sound of the Khaen and the colors of the nocturnal garden by touching the tropical plants. Discover each note or song and color the touch triggers. Gregory Hanks Green, the curator of the Echols Collection of Southeast Asian music at the Cornell music library is also a Khaen player. Green can be heard in the Nocturnal Garden playing a song on the Khaen in the Lai Nyai mode or create your own Khaen song as you touch the leafy plants. Khaen is tradition Thai and Laotian free reed instrument that sounds when the player breathes in or out. A touch of the plants provokes a note on the khaen or a complete song played by Green as well as an array of twilight colors.
Collaborators: Artist Joan Marie Kelly and Senior Lecturer at Nanyang Technological University, curated the concept, and design of the touch sensor installation specifically for the natural environment of Koh Lon Thailand and the Digital naturalism conference 2018. Senior Technical Manager, animation at NTU in Singapore Nagaraju Thummanapalli coded the music and colored LED light to sensors, Musician Gregory Hanks Green contributed the digital files of himself playing the Khaen, flutist Beth Kelly was music consultant, and Tourism Ethnographer Yuthasak Chatkaewnapanon gave cultural council of the context of the artwork. Below are 2 short videos of the Nocturnal Garden.