Fabric As Instrument

First of all, a big thank you to the wonderful Pattie Graver for letting us know about this BeWeave It story. Thank you!

 

When artist Alyce Santoro was a child, her parents used to tie audiocassette tape to their boat riggings to tell which way the wind was blowing. She used to imagine that if the wind blew these telltales in just the right way, whatever was recorded on them would be heard. Later in life, she learned of the Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags that have mantras printed on them. The flags are hung outside, and when the wind blows it is said that the sacred words are activated. 

 

Inspired by both of these elements, Santoro decided to create her own fabric woven using audiocassette tape and polyester thread. The tapes used aren't randomly chosen, each one is recorded with music or sounds that hold some personal meaning to Santoro, and she calls the resulting cloth Sonic Fabric. Each piece of Sonic Fabric is made up of a collage of sounds and, as the tape keeps some of its magnetic properties throughout weaving, it can be "played" by rubbing a tape-head along the surface. You can see this for yourself in this video from a Phish concert. Santoro was commissioned to create a garment for percussionist Jon Fishman and he "played" it at a concert in Las Vegas. 

 

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