To be honest, my appreciation of Opera is limited to Looney Tunes parodies and Fitzcarraldo‘s obsession with bringing Enrico Caruso to Peru. I make my annual Valentines day trip to the Opera, but never really have been a super huge fan. However, for years I’ve been wanting to go to the Oslo Opera House, just to see this curtain designed by artist Pae White.
I love how this piece does the job of functioning as a curtain while bending the visual perception of the audience in waiting. No mere red velvet, no, this curtain appears to be a crumpled wall of metal. My fillings hurt looking at it, but I feel protected from alien mind control signals. I wonder if, as you wait for the performance to begin, whether it is a lasting discomfort of being in a micro/macro world, or if the illusion eventually wears and you get on with it.
Before I go into a technical Textile Nerd Rage about the production of this piece, let me say, I think it is awesome. Not because it is woven, it could be printed textile and I think the effect would be the same on the audience. I think the the fact that it is woven adds another layer, because up close it is a soft textile where the illusion of the pointillism is revealed.
I would love if every theater would afford an artist the opportunity to customize the audience’s pre-show visual feast.
Also, when you’re done reading the tirade below (or ignore it if you like) it would be worth your while to check out the rest of Pae White’s work: Sue Crockford Gallery: Pae White
<Textile Nerd Rage> So this curtain popped up again in the nerd sphere of the internet again this week over at Boing Boing and Feel Guide. While I appreciate every one’s seeming amazement that this was woven on a computer controlled loom, I do have to take this opportunity to snort and point out that there is not much revolutionary about the way this was produced. Just about all of the figurative and patterned woven textiles you’ve encountered are produced on a computer controlled Jacquard loom, just like all of those billboards out there are produced on a computer controlled printer. Its a digital output device, yes, but there is still a high degree of technical skill behind it.
Yes, this was probably output on a Computerized Industrial Jacquard loom with a full width repeat with a 6 end ‘tapestry’ setup. The setup is a warp rotation of yellow, green, red, blue, white and black in the warp, with black and white in the fill, sometimes with a third pick of thinner yarn to cast color and bind it all together. Various combinations of these yarns make a palette of available colors that can be woven, often with over 256 colors available in a palette. This is the setup that makes most of those multicolor woven throws, pillows, and wall hangings that you’ll most likely find at Cracker Barrel’s gift shop, generally with pastoral scenes or rustic settings or the logo and poorly laid out images of your Alma mater.
Technically, all the artist did was digitally photograph crumpled aluminum foil, scale it to the fabric’s resolution, reduce the colors down to the available colors of the tapestry construction, applied the corresponding colored weaves to the image, get the cut and miss file to the mill and have it woven. Actually, the artist probably just sent the image to the mill to have them work it out. What is technically impressive though, is that 200+ yards of non-repeating Jacquard fabric were output for this piece to make a multi-panel theater curtain with a continuous image, which I can tell you, that even with computer controlled industrial equipment is a major headache and accomplishment. </Textile Nerd Rage>
I feel a little better now.