Friday, June 24, 2005

Sajjadah 1426

A reporter contacted me recently wanting to learn about interesting things that people are doing with art and technology. I mentioned a couple of projects but then told her that, really, no one keeps track of these things better than Regine and Jo. And, sure enough, I was really impressed this morning when I read about Soner Ozenc's Sajjadah 1426 project. (Flash site, look under product design.)

The project uses an embedded compass module and EL wire embroidery to trace small patterns onto a Muslim prayer rug, which then glow with varying degrees of intensity based on the rug's spatial relation to Mecca. Inspired by how rug patterns "bring the atmosphere of a mosque" to wherever the person prays, and the need to orient the rug and body towards Mecca, the project quite beautifully explores the embodied and material aspects of faith, as well as physical ways of expressing the ideal qualities of light.

Of course, the wire isn't strong enough to withstand someone actually sitting on the rug, but that doesn't make it any less beautiful to me. I've written before about the material culture of rugs, and I see all sorts of potential in ways that art and technology can come together to explore and express cultural values and practices. But there's something special about working with textiles - something ancient and familiar and rich...

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