Installation and sound performance with e-textiles

Divergence is an open-source project that deals with the question of how to create physicality in order to sense the invisible forces that surround us, through the use of wearable technology, e-textiles and creative coding. It proposes the creation of a wearable electromagnetic field detector that provides the human body with the ability to feel and listen to the electrically and magnetically charged particles that propagate around us. The wearable detector consists of a soft-circuitry garment with an embedded microcontroller that provides haptic and sonic feedback to the user. The haptic feedback is experienced in the form of vibration patterns and the sonic feedback in the form of tones that variate in pitch depending on the strength of the signal. The detection takes place through two embroidered coils that are incorporated in the wrists of the garment and serve as antennas for sensing EM fields. The project’s schematics and code are available in Github, accessible by anyone interested in creating their own version of an EMF detector wearable.

Divergence forms part of The Soft, The Hard and The Wet performances cycle curated by Shu Lea Cheang that took place at Linz in Austria during Ars Electronica 2014.

Afroditi Psarra, PhD is a multidisciplinary artist working with e-textiles, DIY electronics and sound. Her artistic interest focuses on concepts such as the body as an interface, contemporary handicrafts and folk tradition, pop iconography, retrofuturistic aesthetics and the role of women in contemporary culture. Her work encompasses a wide variety of media and techniques that extend from embroidery, soft circuits, hacking and creative coding, to interactive installations and sound performances.

She holds a PhD in Image, Technology and Design from the Complutense University of Madrid. Her academic research Cyberpunk and New Media Art focuses on the merge of science fiction ideas and concepts with performative and digital practices, and offers a philosophical, sociological and aesthetic analysis of the influence of new technologies in the contemporary artistic process. Her work has been presented at numerous platforms such as Siggraph in Vancouver, Ars Electronica in Linz, Transmediale and CTM in Berlin, Amber in Istanbul, Piksel in Bergen, Electropixel in Nantes and MakerFaire in Rome between others. She has worked as an intern on Wireless Communications and Mobile Computing at Disney Research Zurich. She currently lives and works in Athens.

As a conceptual artist, curator, net activator and film director, Shu Lea Cheang conceives network installations and multiplayer performances in an impromptu mode of participation. She incorporates science-fiction stories to her movies and her artistic imaginary world. She conceives social interfaces with transgression and open networks to allow the participation of the public. Involved with mediatized activism in the 80’s and 90’s in the U.S. Cheang brought to a close her American days with Brandon (1998-99), the first net art commission and collection of the Guggenheim Museum New York. Since she relocated in the E.U. zone in 2000, Cheang has initiated numerous collectives to allow collaboration on a large scale and performances while pursuing her own artwork realization. Presently located in the BioNet’s postcrash zone, her work concerns issues of viral love and biohacking.


Afroditi Psarra (artist and performer), Shu Lea Cheang (curator)