Location: New York City, NY, United States
Completion date: 2014
Artwork budget: $35,000
Self-quantification has become more and more ubiquitous in our culture, reflecting an increasing trend to visualize one’s activities aggregated, quantified and reflected in a mirror of metrics and personal technology. This growing preoccupation captured our imaginations – what kind of portrait could we create given one’s personal data? Could a portrait of measure be a 21st century artistic innovation?
I•AM•I is a woven data portrait. From morning to midnight, I•AM•I interacts with its subject, responding to their physical activities and emotions through the subject’s input via mobile devices resulting in an ever changing, animated field of woven light and patterns.
The frenetic rhythms normally associated with data are slowed down to a meditative pace for reflection and wonder in I•AM•I. It is a visual raga, representing a person’s movement and their sentiment in a dance of color and pattern. Its fiber optic threads reveal an internal set of feelings usually obscured beneath fabric one wears to become a choreographed portrait of movement and emotion painted by a data driven brush.
This live, cloud-based artwork constantly communicates with the I•AM•I database storing the sitter’s information from their Fitbit account and emotional surveys. Pinging the I•AM•I server throughout the day, the tapestry responds to most recent changes adding new colors and patterns on its woven panel at morning, noon and evening.
At midnight the panel’s entire surface becomes a breathing color field, first resting then going to sleep at 1AM, waking up at 6 the next morning. Coloration is drawn from Thai/Khmer colors of the day and Plutchik’s wheel of emotions so that viewers can discern the day, the type of activities and the scale of emotions on the piece’s woven surface. The portrait is structured in weekly cycles of 7 days and daily progressions of 11 emotions.
This project utilizes a ranch of techniques, from weaving, to lighting, electronics and computer programming. LigoranoReese work in close collaboration with weavers for the best way to illuminate fiber optic thread and for devising a woven structure conceptually and aesthetically beautiful.
It takes three days to fashion a single fiber panel on a dobby loom, an entire day to lay out the warp threads before weaving can begin. The shuttle scratches the fiber optic threads, leaving traces of the weaver’s hand, randomly breaking the sheath around the thread so light escapes. This gives the threads an organic feel.
When the weavers finish the panels, the artists take the meshes to their studio in Brooklyn. Like traditional weaving, threads are counted and arranged in various sized bundles per LED. The weaving of IAMI is an asymmetrical arrangement with different thread counts per woven section. Each tapestry has 12 custom circuit boards bordering the fabric’s edges. Ends of the threads attach to the LEDs with plastic couples individually made from heat shrink tubing. These are stuffed with small pieces of mylar to focus the LED light intensely onto the ends of the fiber optics. No two tapestries are physically alike.
Exhibitions: Code and Noise, Currents, Sante Fe, New Mexico, 2016; Code and Noise, Silicon Valley Fair, 2015; Mankind/Machinekind, Krinzinger Gallery, Vienna 2015; Catharine Clark Gallery 2014, San Francisco, California; Miami Art Project, Miami, Florida 2013. Collections: 21C Museum, University of Wyoming Art Museum, private collector