A Table weaving 

december 2023
A Table Weaving is a community based collaborative project (collaborators include: Laura Devendorf, Jacqueline Wernimont, Steven Frost) that creates space to make sense of and meditate upon the energy and physical infrastructures required to power the “cloud”. Community members will be invited to join the space and encode data into cloth via weaving while listening to an ambisonic soundscape. My contribution to the project is sound and sound design. Ambisonic is an ideal method through which to present the sound because it allows the listener to be consistently wrapped with sound moving around the 40.4 system in the B2. This enrapture is significant to mirror that of both the weaving thread, consistently unraveling and raveling back into the woven tapestry, and the consistent yet circular movement of the body in the practice of weaving itself. The unique nature of how ambisonics are routed correlates to the speculative form of data encoding and the weaving technique used. Ambisonics is a form of multichannel routing where its transmission channels do not carry speaker signals, instead sound is sent to several speakers, leaving trails of sound, which creates the aural perception of movement. The illusion of movement here relates directly to the floats, which in weaving is a thread that is not woven into the warp. Each of the three looms incorporated floats, but can be seen most obviously from the first loom (pictured to the left). The floats are noted by the trails of cotton thread hanging above the warp, which indicates speculative or unknown components of energy use data. Despite being unattached they create the illusion of moving towards the end of the textile piece, and closing the weft row. This mirrors the way that the trails echo, reverb, volume shifting, and panning create the illusion of movement around the space. 

Community weaving documentation

The soundscape in itself has two components, field recordings of two looms and electronic sound derived from a process of data sonification. The field recordings were added to create moments of connection and synthesis between the sound and the weaving within the space. The recordings were taken from recording my own weaving on a tapestry loom and recording Kathryn Walters using the jacquard loom. The jacquard loom also is an incredibly loud machine, where the HVAC system used to lift the heddles sounds intense and loud enough to mirror that of energy centers. The way that the data was encoded into sound by taking a 2016 data set of consumption by population in every city across the United States and transcribing it into electronic music notes. I wanted to highlight within the sound the presences of cities with lower populations and therefore lower energy consumption. Typically these would correlate to lower numbers, and lower electronic music notes yielding with less aural contrast and emphasis; so to highlight these I inverted them to yield higher notes. The instrumentation mapped onto the electronic notes focused largely on stringed instruments, due to the looms visual and user similarities. The translation of sound helps to perceive and understand the valance and vastness of data and consumption of energy across the United States in a more embodied and sensorial way. 

images from final weaving

more info about the project can be found here