Panel: The Institute of Unnecessary Research
Ultra Smart Textiles are the latest generation of Smart Textiles, which can sense, react and adopt themselves to environmental conditions or stimuli from mechanical, thermal, chemical, electrical or magnetic sources. Thus the participatory audience experience is significantly heightened, “pushing the boundaries”, compared to models created with earlier technologies. Much has been discussed about Smart Fabrics lately. This rapidly growing field offers a huge range of research opportunities and new areas for investigations. Novel technology combined with one of the oldest traditions, the production of textiles, facilitates astonishing results on many different levels. These materials with incorporated technological elements enable the fabrics to transform them into interactive interfaces. While numerous research opportunities as well as innovative method development by artists are offered in this field, it has to be noted that the goal of research is towards a pragmatic outcome closely linked to industry. The artist in this specific field serves as a conduit for knowledge transfer. A very smart or intelligent textile essentially consists of a unit, which works like the brain, with cognition, reasoning and activating capacities. While Smart Textiles are nowadays still more connected with fashions or wearables and to a lesser degree with health or military use, there are huge possibilities for an artistic approach connected to site specific and interactive works. In the gadget or fashion field the technological tools are often separated from the textile material, yet novel developments for embedded technology inside the fabric are already being investigated and offer new potentials. Observations show very clearly that a lot of research is still needed, nevertheless a significant amount of astonishing results are already generated. Nevertheless several questions remain unanswered. How these materials can be used to create meaningful representations? How can the sensory aspect of Smart Fabrics be further developed? How can the practical use of Smart Fabrics be widely promoted beyond the fashion and sports industry? This fast growing area of Smart Textiles is crossing borders between artistic, technological and scientific sectors. This paper will focus on how the use of Intelligent Fabrics can be involved more effectively in artworks that explore artistic and technical opportunities to enable new aesthetic perspectives.
- Bettina Schülke (Mag. Art) is an Austrian artist, Ph.D Researcher and lecturer at the University of Lapland, FI. Her research theme is “Transaction (Phenomenology of Space and Time Dimensions)”. In addition she is consulting a research project on Smart Textiles from the Austrian Textile Company Backhausen and the smart textile Plattform at the ÖTI (Institut für Ökologie, Technik und Innovation). Schülke has exhibited her artworks widely at internationally prominent venues like the 2nd Thessaloniki Biennale (GR), Shunt Lounge, London (GB), De Winkelhaak Design Museum, Antwerp (BE), Kemi Art Museum; Lume Mediakeskus, Helsinki (FI), the MAK-nite (Museum of Applied Arts), Vienna (AT) and textile works at the Austrian Pavilion at the 8.th International Architecture Biennale in Venice (IT). She has lectured at the University of Fine Arts in Vienna (AT), the University of Lapland and the Kemi/Tornio University of Applied Science (FIN), and was co-organizer and participating artist at the prestigious e-MobiLArt project (European Mobile Lab for Interactive Artists).
Full text (PDF) p. 2194-2199