Embroidered Touch 2

Artists and designers often reflect the political and social realities of the communities in which they live. During the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Chicago, Anke Loh visited many of the city’s neighborhoods in the midst of protests, an experience that served as a launchpad for exploring the role of garments and textiles as a mode of communication. The Embroidered Touch 2 project is the next phase in Loh’s earlier work, focused on advancing and developing the research in touch-sensitive textiles. The result of this collaborative project are new techniques and approaches to interlacing conductive yarns capable of sensing changes in touch, temperature and other stimuli.

These embroideries take the form of touch-sensitive grids and decorative motifs inspired by imagery on urban murals and street corners from Chicago neighborhoods. The grids were embroidered with conductive thread over colorful recycled textiles and partially insulated with polyester thread. While circuit boards and additional circuitry were attached with the use of the embroidery machine or by hand. These methods reflect a focus on sustainable modes of production, where the garment’s construction is based on zero-waste pattern-making techniques.

Loh and her interdisciplinary team have produced multiple garments with varying degrees of touch sensitivity that can communicate with sound as a response to touch. The available sound files are a mix of field recordings from nature and urban spaces, as well as string and percussion instruments. The final garments will be exhibited at ‘Facility’ in Chicago from February – April 2022.

A collaboration between Anke Loh and Hochschule Niederrhein, (University of Applied Sciences Fachbereich Textil- und Bekleidungstechnik); Prof. Dr. Anne Schwarz-Pfeiffer and Ramona Nolden M.Sc.
Hardware, Software and Sound output in collaboration with Christine Shallenberg.

This project was made possible through a DAAD Faculty Grant and DCASE Individual Artists Program Grant. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.