The Enchantment of Textiles is a SSHRC-funded project that uses an interdisciplinary approach in the investigation of electronic cloth. Barbara Layne is the Principal Investigator with collaborators Professor Janis Jefferies, Dr. Ahmed Kishk and Marc-André Cosette. Research began with a study of original sources of embroidered metalwork (gold and silver threads) from historic textile collections in the Musée des Ursulines de Québec, El Museo de Textil de Oaxaca (Mexico), the Textile Museum of Canada (Toronto), the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum (London UK). We observed ancient techniques and materials and also considered the meanings embedded in metal clothwork (who was entitled to wear precious metal textiles of the past and who has access to new technologies today?)
Traditional textile processes and experimental materials were applied to new ways of designing and implementing digital technology. Geneviève Moisan was crucial in the analysis of structural components, translating them into elegant contemporary designs. Sensing fabrics, transmission devices, light emitting displays, sound components and other soft circuit elements were embedded in garments, wall hangings, and textile objects. Wireless transmission systems allow textiles to respond to human activity, resulting a rich communications environment. A novel technical achievement in this project was the development of textile antennas by Tahseen Mustafa (supervised by Professor Kishk). These antennas were painstakingly analyzed, rendered, redesigned and proven in an anechoic chamber to assure the highest level of efficiency. Gen and Tahseen were only two of a large team of research assistants and collaborators, each with their own particular skills and contributions, all essential to the success of the project.
The research underwent two production phases: Resonant Garments and Provocative Spaces. Resonant Garments includes the Branko Belt Project and Maxwell’s Equations (in collaboration with Lauren Osmond). Provocative Spaces is an installation project that incorporates interactive garments and objects. These projects examine how an individual’s movements and the manipulation of textile objects can create dynamic social situations.