Please Touch the Thread

Three international artists redefine sensory interactions through Jacquard technology

By Google Arts & Culture

Jacquard x Google Arts & Culture x Mobilier National: Please Touch the Thread
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From April to October 2019, three international artists collaborated with Google engineering teams in order to create, design, and produce three interactive installations using the Jacquard by Google technology. Developed by Google ATAP (Advanced Technologies and Projects), a lab dedicated to fashion and lifestyle innovation, Jacquard technology was originally designed in the form of threads, in partnership with Japanese artisans. It aims at empowering designers to turn the textiles they use into new forms of interfaces, in order to infuse new interactive properties into the objects they create.

For this Residency, Jacquard collaborated with the artisans-art technicians of Mobilier national in Paris to blend its technology with ancestral savoir-faire.

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Jacquard x Google Arts & Culture Residency in partnership with Mobilier national

Jacquard Residency Artists: Chloé Bensahel, Daniel Kapelian from OMA Space, and Amor Munoz
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The three laureates

After reviewing over 200 diverse and fascinating project ideas from artists, collectives, and technologists all over the world, the jury selected the propositions of Oma Space Studio, Chloé Bensahel, and Amor Muñoz.

The residency granted artists access to the core of Jacquard technology, factories in Japan, mentoring from Jacquard and Google Arts & Culture engineers, mentoring from Pamela Golbin and Memo Akten, and access to the Google Lab space and resources in Paris.

A word from Pamela Golbin, Artistic Director of the Residency

Pamela Golbin, Jacquard x Google Arts & Culture residency artistic director
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"When magic happens, in concert with ancestral savoir-faire, advanced technologies and a vision sharpened by history in progress, this leads to one of the first Residency Programmes seeking to explore innovative synergies that co-exist between Art, so-called intelligent textiles and high-tech. In other words: how to make use of the Past collective memory observed by the Present to shape a near Future, radiating with creativity and full of sensorial inventiveness.

The exhibition “Please touch the Thread” celebrates the pursuit of this encounter under the aegis of Google Arts & Culture and Jacquard by Google, a direct tribute to the French inventor Joseph Marie Jacquard who developed -at the dawn of the 19th century- the automatized textile looms. As a matter of fact, the programmable punch-cards used by these innovative looms inspired, a century after, the early stages of computing. The circle is thus complete.

Like an invisible link, Jacquard thread makes possible the injection of connectivity into all types of textiles, always pushing the limits further. The residency was designed to be not only a source of inspiration but also a gateway to new collaborations - providing unparalleled support to the three selected Artists and empowering them to work freely, according to their needs, throughout the course of the project.

So, yes, please do touch, tap your fingers, skim the installations presented here. Human interaction is the only way to activate the pyrotechnic spark which when triggered creates the grande finale."

The meeting of ancestral savoir-faire excellence and advanced technologies

Amor Muñoz with the Head of Décor tapestry workshop, Mobilier national, Paris
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Mobilier national supports artistic professions and creation since the 17th century. The institution, under the supervision of the French Ministry of Culture, maintains, creates and deals with a unique collection of more that 130,000 pieces of furniture and textiles.

Its history goes back to the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne (i.e. Royal Furniture storage) introduced by Louis XIV and Colbert, this institution caters for the furniture needs in high places of the French Republic among which its embassies and ministries.

Resolutely facing the future, and as part of its support to contemporary creation, Mobilier national workshops (Beauvais Tapestries Manufacture and Atelier Décor) collaborated with two of the artists of the residency.

Collaborating with Google engineers to bring the artists’ desired interactions to life

Dr. Ivan Poupyrev (Jacquard technology inventor) and Amor Muñoz in Naoshima, Japan
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With a vision of combining the personal and tactile elements of textiles with the immediacy and flexibility of digital services, Ivan Poupyrev joined Google ATAP in January 2014, and began working out the initial concepts behind Jacquard.

Creative technologist and Chloé Bensahel, during bi-weekly session at Google Arts & Culture Lab in Paris
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By injecting connectivity directly into the threads, by making fabrics even smarter and enabling a seamless integration, Google keeps on pushing the boundaries of textile innovation in order to empower creative communities to enhance their work with more digital abilities whilst remaining true to their original designs.

Each of the three artists was supported in his/her project by a dedicated technical team throughout this collaboration. In doing so, Jacquard and Google Arts & Culture committed to using their engineering skills to assist in a new form of creative process.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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