That’s the idea behind The Embroidered Computer, an artwork that looks like an embroidered tapestry but is actually an electromechanical computer that is similar in power to the eight-bit computers of the 1950s. Those mainframe computers filled entire rooms with their wiring, but this computer was made with handmade copper coils, a magnetic bead, and gold and silver conductive thread.
Using traditional embroidery methods, the Vienna-based designers Ebru Kurbak and artist Irene Posch hand-stitched electromechanical switches out of these conductive materials. As with any computer, when an electrical current passes through the copper coil, it creates a magnetic field that causes the magnetic bead to flip to an “on” or an “off” position based on the direction of the current. The entire art piece has a total of 369 switches, which makes up an eight-bit computer that can perform simple calculations.
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