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Maggie Orth: Moving Towards Stillness

Textiles meet technology in these interactive sculptures that change colour!

Textiles and technology are not commonly associated, but Maggie Orth fuses them seamlessly. Her electronic textiles are a synthesis of ancient craft and cutting-edge technology; utility and decoration. Pushing the boundaries between weaving and digital art, each artwork contains conductive yarn woven into the back of its weave. When a visitor presses a button, heat-sensitive ink printed onto the weave changes colour, creating a vibrant tapestry of patterns. Over time, these patterns are burned into the weaving permanently as the ink fails to return fully to its original dark colour.

Referring to her works as colour-change textiles, Orth says, “From the very first time a viewer pushes the button to watch them perform, they are dying: moving toward stillness and the end of their electronic life.” By connecting the tactility and fragility of traditional crafts with the abstraction of digital software, Orth’s art upends the conventional values associated with each.

Experience this fascinating work that questions the effectiveness of modern technology and highlights the ephemeral quality of art and, ultimately, life.

About the Artist

Maggie Orth is an artist, writer, and technologist who creates electronic textiles and interactive art. She is the founder of International Fashion Machines, Inc., (IFM) and was named a 2007 USA Target Fellow in recognition of her artistic work. She holds a PhD in Media Arts and Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Masters of Science from MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies, and a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design. Her artworks and designs have been exhibited globally and have appeared in TIME Magazine, WIRED, and The Boston Globe, among others. She lives and works in Seattle, Washington.

Image credit: Installation image of Maggie Orth: Moving Towards Stillness in Surrey Art Gallery's TechLab. Photo by SITE Photography.