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2. Research + Design

    Circuit Playground Express board x 2 (Adafruit)
    TC2 Jacquard Loom (Digital Weaving Norway)
    Mercerized cotton yarn, black 20/2 (warp)
    Linen yarn, cream, gold, 20/2 (weft)
    Power mesh, black x 5 yd
    Photoshop (Adobe)
    Mu code editor

Collaborator Anna and I embarked on a project to upgrade the way we approach design. Anna, coming from a fashion and textiles background, and I, from one of fine art and sound design, envision a series of garments tailor-made for the wearer, that morph with the wearer according to their lifestyle over time. Using data collected from the ADafruit Circuit Playground Express, and using simple analysis methods, we modulate a shared V0 textile design to create 2 individualized textiles that are variations of each other. The closeness of the design to the life of the wearer (without being overbearing) results in a garment that is not only beautiful and well-crafted, but also a uniform that can be worn repeatedly in a stand against disposable fashion.

Phase 1
We researched the market of sensors specialized for sensing textiles / e-textiles projects. We chose the Circuit Playground Express over the Arduino Lilypad and Adafruit FLORA due to its inclusion of multiple sensors in-the-box. We ran tests to see what the nature of data captured from the board would be. Concurrently, we procured a pattern for a full-length next-to-the-skin undergarment and obtained power mesh (chosen for its breathability and slight stretch) with which to construct the garment. We decided on a neck placement for the sensor board, as that would allow for reliable contact with the skin as well as visibility in the overall look.

Testing the Circuit Playground Express sensor board

Phase 2
We discussed the fundamental design from which to iterate, and concluded that as simple and intuitive an initial design process as we could achieve would be appropriate to the goals of the project. I asked Anna what her favorite flower is (tiger lily); mine is the bird of paradise. We found 1 image of each flower online and proceeded with file preparation for the TC2 Jacquard Loom. The TC2 allows handweavers precise control over each intersection of warp and weft, and as such frees the designer from having to repeat steps or form any pattern in the design. Where plenty of artists use the freedom afforded by the TC2 to create image-based handweavings, Anna and I are much more curious about the potential of the TC2, in partnership with the human, to create iterative, living patterns that grow in sync with the maker/wearer's life experience. (This is the future of design).

Phase 3
We began to design the Jacquard fabric. Anna had the idea to use one of the flower forms (tiger lily) as a container in the pattern, and the other (bird of paradise) as a texture or fill inside the container. In this V0 design we are relying very much on intuitive skill developed over years of creative practice. How does this relate to the data-assisted design decisions we will be making in future phases of this project?

22 December 2020: We are scheduled to use the TC2 Jacquard Loom at Praxis Fiber Workshop (Cleveland, OH) from January 8 - 17, 2021. We will finalize the V0 design by December 25 and then proceed with data collection round 1, consisting of X days where we both wear the Circuit Playground Express-embedded undergarment. The data sets we will be collecting are: 1. position change in along the Z axis and 2. sound (volume). The former is mapped to the total % of accent color woven into the Jacquard fabric of the wearer. The ratio of the latter between Anna and Connie will modulate the relative size of container (tiger liy) pattern in the woven Jacquard fabric for each wearer. We will weave the fabric for the exoskeletons and construct them via sewing machine by Spring 2021. A second iteration is planned for the creation of a second capsule collection in F/W 2022.