“Soundweaving” Turns Traditional Folk Embroidery Into Playable Music #WearableWednesday

Interesting art project from a student in Budapest. Via ecouterre.

Soundweaving comes from design student Zsanett Szirmay, of the Moholy-nagy University of Art and Design Budapest, who created this mysterious sound artwork by transforming embroidery patterns into music. The works are composed of holes in textiles in the form of a musical pattern that resemble playable punch cards, crafted with a laser cutter. “My inspiration came from the punch cards in the weavers workshop that the weaving machines used,” Szirmay told Ecouterre. “Early computers also used such punch cards, with the information coded in such formats. The weaving machinery too works on this basis, and I imagined, why not make pretty motifs on the punch cards. I thought back to my youth, seeing the music boxes in fairs and managed to connect the two concepts.”

The patterns are typical of her native Hungary and are embedded with echoes of her childhood. She used to be a member of a Hungarian folk dancing group, and says that during this time she wore embroidered clothes. When they would tour through villages she would collect cross stitch patterns from pillowcases and tablecloths. After dwelling on these motives for some time this informed her work, tainting her Soundweaving piece with a touch of evocative nostalgia.

A musician herself, a flutist and a member of several choirs as a child, Szirmay says her life has always been filled with music. For this piece, however, she worked in the role of the artist, and collaborated with musician and composer Bálint Tárkány-Kovács. She says he “has helped my patterns become a string of sounds.” “Composing and design are seemingly two very different processes,” she says, “but in fact both creative processes include a base motif, a mirroring of the motif, vertical and horizontal mirroring of the vertical motif.”

She notes that some of the motifs were tailored, played in a different way to make a more pleasant sound. “Since the thick patters of tulips would make a dense sound, in the first part of the patterns only the tulips’ stalks and leaves were used, and then after the whole tulip motif can be heard,” she said, discussing the details of the piece. “In other cases, it was possible to temporally shift two of the same motifs, melodies from each other, creating a canonical sound.”

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