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Soft Object – A New Course to be Offered in Fall 2020

Laura Devendorf and Sasha de Koninck are designing a new course to be offered in Fall 2020, Soft Object. The course will cultivate a community of material researchers seeking to make soft things that expand how we think of interactivity. While starting with soft circuits, the class will support material investigations with novel techniques for textile structure, growth, computation and decomposition. Students will learn about different soft material structures, properties, and possibilities. As a course, we will develop, refine, and publish novel techniques for smart/functional fabrics in the form of a physical and open source digital “swatch book.” Students we will think about the history and future of textile and soft-object making, while conducting their own material investigations.

We are designing the course to run mostly virtually. If you are a CU grad student or undergraduate student, please join us. If you are an interested global community member, please get in touch with us via unstabledesignlab@gmail.com as we may look to develop a forum for public engagement and critique.


ATLS 4519/5519: Soft Objects
Monday/Wednesday 3:00-4:40
ATLAS 113 – Blow Things Up Lab

Official Listings: ATLS 4519 //ATLS 5519

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Steven Helps with Mask Making

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Unstable Design Lab at (the event formally scheduled that is CHI 2020)

Back in the days when the world was pandemic free, we used to attend conferences where we would get to share our work with our research community. This year was going to be especially fun/valuable as we had four full papers to present, two best paper honorable mention awards, one workshop and a first time presentation by Jolie and Shanel. Sadly, the conference has been canceled and so no presentations will be given. Instead I’ll write a kind of editorial summary of the work we submitted below. Stay posted for more detailed summaries of each project.


Unfabricate: Designing Smart Textiles for Disassembly

Shanel Wu, Laura Devendorf.
click here to read the paper
Shanel is an expert knitter who we are converting to a weaver. They spent a year thinking about how we might apply some techniques for re-harvesting knits to woven fabrics. Specifically, we were envisioning an eco-system where parts from e-textiles could be harvested and re-used. This included developing new weave structures to maximize yarn yields, are shape woven, and that are held together with a “key” thread that when removed, make it easier to pull the constituent yarns apart. They even made a little tool that adds onto AdaCAD – our smart textile design software, that can help designing these drafts.


What HCI Can Learn from ASMR: Becoming Enchanted with the Mundane

Jolie Klefeker, libi streigl, Laura Devendorf.
click here to read the paper

Jolie took up a fascination with ASMR media a while back and we started doing a series of investigations around what it would look like to translate ASMR into the design of interactive products. This led to studies, interviews, and some kits and ended up in an exploration of augmenting daily interactions using binaural audio. We all started developing custom ASMR wearables using Teensy microcontrollers and wearing them around. Jolie made a coat the highlights the sound of mundane objects and Laura made a cloak to facilitate recording and screaming with the sound of motors. Many many more details in the paper ūüôā

Craftspeople as Technical Collaborators: Lessons Learned through an Experimental Weaving Residency.
Laura Devendorf, Katya Arquilla, Sandra Wirtanen, Allison Anderson, Steven Frost.
Best Paper Honorable Mention!!!
click here to read the full paper
This paper takes a strong and perhaps critical position to talk about the role of craftspeople in technical research. Basically, craftspeople should be included at the early stages of research (not just brought in later to bring aesthetics to the work).  It describes the structure and reflections from our experimental weaving residency, including how our own conceptions of craftspeople were too narrow prior to our experience.

Making Design Memoirs: Understanding and Honoring Difficult Experiences
Laura Devendorf, Kristina Andersen, Aisling Kelliher.
Best Paper Honorable Mention!!!
click here to read the full paper

This paper describes a very personal collaboration between the co-authors. Specifically, we started the project as an attempt to understand the limits of design–what does it mean to design if its not about making something “better” or “easier.” Specifically, we thought back on our experiences as mothers and tried to develop methods to investigate that experience through design. In this way, we try to make “memoirs” with objects that tell of our felt experiences and that bring out practices of witnessing and honoring instead of resolving.

  

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Parfileuse at the Dairy Center

Drizzling, or parfilage, is an 18th century term for the act of unravelling metallic threads, such as lace, embroidery or tassels. These metallic embellishments were made out of a metal thread wound around a silk core. Because they were using pure metal, all of that ornamentation is conductive‚ÄĒmeaning it has the ability to conduct electricity. This makes these historic materials very similar to the materials we use today to create soft circuits, and sensors for smart textiles and wearable technology.

A ‚Äúparfileuse‚ÄĚ is a woman who enjoys unwinding wire by wire. Parfilage was a favorite pastime of ladies. It showed off how deft they were with their hands. Ladies would also do it as an act of recycling. They could remove the embellishment from an old dress as a way to reuse the dress, or the embellishment. It was also a way to make money. Ladies would take apart old embellishment to pay for materials for a new dress, or typical living expenses.

For this performance at the Dairy Center, I created an 18th century style garment, embroidered with a 4 channel oscillator. For the performance, I took apart the circuit with a seam ripper and snips in order to perform the circuit.

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Mikhaila Friske, Shanel Wu and Nathalia Capreuguer França organize Antiuniversity Now: (re)claimed workshop series.

Read more about them on the ATLAS Institute Webpage

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Workshop: Weaving Climate Datascapes with Tali Weinberg

 
 
 
Artist Tali Weinberg will lead fifteen graduate students in a workshop materializing climate data in the form of woven tapestries. Participants will use basic weaving skills to produce tapestries by hand, experiment with ways to engage data while weaving, and reflect on the unique valences of weaving for engaging with and archiving climate data.¬† Participants will also use the Lab’s computer-controlled TC2 loom to create a collaborative tapestry representing climate data as well as personal recollections.
 
The NEST sponsored workshop will take place in the Unstable Design Lab at the ATLAS Institute and will guide participants through translating data into woven structures using hand and computer-controlled looms. Priority registration will be given to CU students and the public is encouraged to engage Tali’s existing Woven Datascapes at the CU Art Museum’s Documenting Change exhibition.
 
No prior weaving experience is required and all materials will be provided to participants.
 
What: Weaving Climate Datascapes
When: April 11-12, 10am Р5pm. 
Where: Unstable Design Lab, ATLAS 207
 
Here is some documentation of what we made!
 
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Summertime!

Not so much news, but a post documenting our research group and collaborators at a summer BBQ welcoming our practice based researchers in residence: Gaspard and Milica. We’re all working hard on some new research projects and taking time to watch the world cup and take silly photos (which also happen to be best viewed in VR). We’re hoping to a have a few new projects going public by the end of summer so stay posted.

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Unstable Design Lab to Host Practice-Based Research Residency in Summer 2019 with Support from the Center for Craft Creativity and Design

We’re happy to annouce that we (Laura Devendorf, Steven Frost, in collaboration with Allison Anderson) have won a Materials-Based Research Grant from the Center for¬†Craft Creativity and Design. The funds will support an artist participating on our research in smart textiles during the Summer of 2019. The artist will be based in the Unstable Design Lab and will participate in our ongoing research in smart textiles. The goal is for the experience to produce innovative research that combines weaving and “smart” materials while also providing insights on how academic research labs might meaningfully engage and support artists on their teams. Stay posted for updates and application details. We expect to publish a call for applications later this year. You can read more about the award here:¬†http://www.craftcreativitydesign.org/2018-materials-based-research-grants/

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Speculative Robotics Workshop: May 16 @ BMoCA

We’re hosting a workshop in conjunction with MediaLive and Boulder Startup Week at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art on Wednesday, May 16 from 6:30-8:30 to bring caregivers and technologists together to imagine what exoskeletons for caregiving might look like. We’re looking to juxtapose ideas of self-realization and military power with the feminized labor of caregiving, particularly as it relates to young children. If we were to imagine what exoskeletons for caregivers might look like, how might it open up new ways of talking about, designing for, and recognizing the everyday struggles of caring for others.¬† ¬†The workshop is open to the public and you can register here.

 

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The Unstable Design Lab is getting a TC2 Digital Jacquard Loom

In the Fall of 2017, we coordinated a workshop exploring the future of smart textiles – what new forms of computation and support are needed for these systems and how do we foster production collaborations between artists and engineers? A semester later, Laura Devendorf and Allison Anderson (Aerospace) teamed up to apply for a seed grant from the Multi-Functional Materials research group at CU Boulder to support the purchase of a TC2 digital jacquard loom. The seed grant was awarded and the loom will arrive mid-summer. The first projects in the pipeline include custom fitting textiles, distributed force sensing, and explorations in “un”-weaving. We look forward to community wide collaborations and (hopefully) hosting a summer art residency who will broaden perspectives on our work.