ARTIST: Laura MacCary and Lawrence MacCary
TITLE: Dialectric: Connection
MATERIALS: Woven wire, yarn and electronics
DIMENSIONS: 33" x 45"
This interactive piece consists of a hand woven panel of
switches attached to a circuit board with LEDs which correspond
one-to-one with the switches in the panel. The switches are
made of pairs of fine wires, which are woven into the fabric
so that they are in close proximity but do not touch. The viewer's
finger provides a conductive surface across which the current
can pass to connect the two sides of each circuit. Touching
a switch causes the corresponding LED to light.
I am a weaver studying electronics. My father, Lawrence
MacCary, is a sculptor and a longtime electronics experimenter.
I grew up playing with electronic toys he made and sometimes
I got to help wind coils or salvage parts. His "infernal
machines" came out of the workshop for hair-raising demonstrations
at parties. All of this gave me a sense of delight about electronics.
When I decided to make a series of works which combine weaving
and electronics, I was excited that he was interested in collaborating
on circuit design.
Weaving is a ubiquitous but little-noticed technology, viewed
as unremarkable even though it is essential to human survival.
Electronics is another technology that is becoming so omnipresent
and so integrated with our lives that we will soon cease to
notice it. However, electronics is sure to cross the boundary
of our skin, and enter our bodies. Its fields already do.
It is this intimate interface between people and technology
that I'm examining in this series of works. Each piece in the
series consists of an electronic component woven of conductive
or resistive materials, cast-off by industry, and a circuit
designed around the weaving. By interacting with the weaving
the viewer physically enters the circuit, and the circuit passes
through the viewer, blurring the boundary between them.
The title of the series, Dialectric, is taken from the words
dialectic, meaning the juxtaposition or interaction of two conflicting
ideas or forces, and dielectric, an insulating substance or
one in which an electric field can be maintained with a minimum
loss of power. I see these as metaphors for the participants
in an interaction, and the space between them.