Burlap is a continuing series of work that explores the blurring of the electronic circuit and traditional two-dimensional art forms. Small interactive, physically programmed musical computers have been embedded, woven into a skin of burlap, creating an electronic music composition in the form of a reactive textile. Gallery guests interact with the pieces by casting shadows over embedded sensors. CMOS 4000 series ICs are configured into circuits which produce tones, sequencers, and dynamically behaving oscillators that respond to shadows cast by guests. Each composition explores themes of cyclical and chaotic structures, iterative sequence generation, and dynamical feedback systems. The visual form of the Burlap pieces takes its cues from traditional circuit design and is the result of a dialog between the functions of the different parts of the circuits and the nature of the signals shuttled from one part of the circuit to the next. Weaving the circuits into a canvas of burl
ap juxtaposes natural construction materials with electronic technologies, and thus presents a challenge to the notion of the circuit as something that is cold, calculated, and non-human. The Burlap itself is used as a semiotically rich signifier indicating, amongst other themes, the historical origins of computing in mechanized weaving, pre-industrial age textiles, and a return to reliance upon renewable natural resources.
Four step sequencers cycle through an 8 note melodic sequence based loosely on the harmonic series. The speeds of the sequencers are cascaded such that each successive sequencer plays 1/16th the rate of the previous one. Over all speed and direction of the sequences is determined by the amount of light falling on the photocells embedded in the burlap. Shadow falling over different parts of the piece will allow the sequencers to be heard.
One oscillator is playing chaotic rhythmic and melodic patterns from a set of 8 predetermined pitches. Blocking light from reaching the photocells along the bottom of the piece will reveal different sub-octaves of the single oscillator. The rhythm and rate will change as the light falling on the surface of the piece changes.
Two tone generators have been programmed to match the pitch of the other. Intervention using various components prevents one from ever quite reaching the other. Shadow falling on the photocells in the middle of the piece will allow the dance of the two pitches to be heard though sometimes they exceed the limit of human hearing in their ascents.