Sounding Textiles

April 6th, 2015 10:00 am until April 8th, 2015
Steim, Achtergracht 19, 1017WL, Amsterdam Steim, Achtergracht 19, 1017WL, Amsterdam

This three day workshop, hosted by Mika Satomi and Hannah Perner-Wilson (Kobakant), explores the sound of textiles.

sounding textiles

DATE: 6th, 7th and 8th of April, 2015
TIME: 10:00 / 18:00
LOCATION: STEIM, Achtergracht 19, Amsterdam
COSTS: €200 (includes €50 materials)
REGISTRATION LINK, maximum of 20 participants

Fabrics are generally considered to be soundless. They don’t make much sound when we wear them, scrunch them up or sit on them. In fact in many cases, fabrics for these purposes are engineered to absorb and dampen sound. Sound is everywhere and always, and ever since the discovery of electromagnetism and the invention of the dynamic speaker in 1920, electronic sounds have been part of our soundscape.

What if instead of considering textiles as materials that absorb and dampen sound, we imagine them as materials for creating and emitting sound? How would our experience of textiles be different, if taking off your t-shirt sounded like walking through autumn leaves, if spanning your bed-sheet played back recordings from a previous night, if your leather shoes composed melodies that became softer as the leather became worn… ?

In three days of workshop we would like to thoroughly explore the possibilities of creating and playing sound with textiles. In order to do so the workshop is structured into two topics that can and should cross paths. Participants will go through a series of intro activities to both topics, but are then encouraged to start an open exploration by picking one (at least as a starting point):

* Playing sound through textiles: focus on coiling electromagnets from conductive fabrics and threads, and embedding and attaching these to fabric materials. Thus creating speaker membranes capable of translating digital signals into audible sounds.

* Synthesizing sound from textiles: focus on constructing sensors and switches from conductive textiles (fabrics, threads, yarns) and using these as input elements for synthesized sound. Meaning the sensors can directly become the parts of an analog synthesizer.

During this three-day workshop we encourage participants to explore and discover possibilities and techniques for making Sounding Textiles and to build-up their skill-set for working with E-Textiles. The focus of the workshop will be to experiment, iterate and refine through a series of prototypes.

About the workshop leaders:


Mika Satomi and Hannah Perner-Wilson have been collaborating since 2006, and in 2008 formed the collective KOBAKANT. Together, through their work, they explore the use of textile crafts and electronics as a medium for commenting on technological aspects of today’s “high-tech” society. KOBAKANT believes in the spirit of humoring technology, often presenting their work as a twisted criticism of the stereotypes surrounding textile craftsmanship and electrical engineering. KOBAKANT/ believes that technology exists to be hacked, handmade and modified by everyone to better fit our personal needs and desires.
In 2009, as research fellows at the Distance Lab in Scotland, KOBAKANT published an online database for sharing their DIY wearable technology approach titled HOW TO GET WHAT YOU WANT.