Words Weave Worlds - Chloé Bensahel

A dive into the different cultural connotations and historical interpretations of ‘white’: as a concept, a color, a tool, or a gesture

By Google Arts & Culture

For the Jacquard x Google Arts & Culture Residency, artist Chloé Bensahel created a collection of white on white text tapestries that emit sounds upon interaction (touch, stroke, and pressure) thanks to Jacquard technology.

Based on the expression, “Words create worlds,” (Heschel) Words Weave Worlds embodies the belief that no narrative has a single voice, definition, or meaning. In an effort to place gesture and performance at the center of how narrative is formed and performed, Words Weave Worlds presents a series of words that are revealed through touch and hearing rather than sight.

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Such texts invoke white as an ambiguous notion, omnipresent in contexts ranging from worship (sanctity) to preferential power structures (supremacy.) These woven texts were exhibited at le Mobilier National's Réserve Perret, surrounded by pieces with a symbolic and historical role in these contexts.

Embracing gestures that allow for such complexities, Words Weave Worlds hence assigns the viewer the role of narrator, as every stroke or nudge releases constantly shifting sounds woven in space.

Meet the artist Chloé Bensahel

Chloé Bensahel - Jacquard Residency
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Chloé Bensahel is a Franco-American artist who blends performance, traditional craft and multimedia to create large-scale installations that highlight the relationship between language and identity.

Inspired by her own family history of migration, her work investigates how narration and material traditions create a collective culture. She is currently interested in the rich conceptual space that exists at the junction between text and textile.

Meet the music composer Caroline Shaw

Caroline Shaw is an American violinist, singer and composer. At 30, she was the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2013 for her a cappella piece Partita for 8 Voices.

With previous collaborations ranging from Kanye West to the LA Philharmonic, Caroline has extensive experience with multi-voice compositions. Her aesthetic is rooted in the eerie and the delicate.

See the process

Chloé Bensahel, Tapestry Workshop, Mobilier national, Paris, Septembre 2019

The materials

1.1 km of Google Jacquard Thread, 7 capacitive sensing chips, and 11 kg of linen spun in Northern France (Oise). 

Chloé Bensahel, Tapestry Workshop, Mobilier national, Paris, Septembre 2019

Chloé Bensahel

Chloé Bensahel, Tapestry Workshop, Mobilier national, Paris, Septembre 2019

A highly-intensive process

Approximately 840 hours of weaving (100 per tapestry) were necessary to complete the artwork. The pieces were woven by the artist, and by the Manufacture de Beauvais under the direction of Pierre Bureau.

Creative technologist and Chloé Bensahel, during bi-weekly session at Google Arts & Culture Lab in Paris

Creative technologist and Chloé Bensahel had bi-weekly sessions at the Google Arts & Culture Lab in Paris.

Chloé Bensahel testing her prototype tapestry at Google Arts & Culture Lab in Paris

Chloé Bensahel testing her prototype tapestry at Google Arts & Culture Lab in Paris.

See the artwork

Words Weave Worlds - Installation View by Chloé Bensahel

Words Weave Worlds - Installation View by Chloé Bensahel

Words Weave Worlds - Installation View by Chloé Bensahel

Words Weave Worlds - Installation View by Chloé Bensahel

Words Weave Worlds - Installation View by Chloé Bensahel

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