Knitted radios and related knitting magic

Wow this post has spent a year in the drafts bin (since october 2018, and I first looked into this in 2017…), so I’m kicking it out as-is. I’ll update it later with moar pics ™:

In this week’s continued effort to clear out my back log of super-old blog post drafts, today we’ll talk about knitted radios.

You: Wait what, knitted radios?

Me: Yup, you heard me right. Knitted radios! First created in 2012, and then later in 2014 reincarnated as a sweater. Created by Ebru Kurbak and Irene Posch. To clarify, the knitted parts are the resistors, capacitors, and inductors (coils); the non-knit parts are the transistor, battery, and audio source. Since then, I believe they’ve also done work into making textile relays, switches, and logic gates.

Drapery FM 2012Β  ( Installation description from )

Drapery FM (2012) is an audio-tactile installation by Ebru Kurbak and Irene Posch.

Drapery FM consists of a knitted piece of fabric that can electronically communicate the story of how it has been made to and through the surrounding radio receivers. The piece of fabric is essentially a micro FM transmitter that is, for the most part, made from copper wire and wool. Tuned into the right radio frequency, radios within the transmission range of this fabric receive and play out the sound recordings made during its production.

The installation proposes an atmospheric space made of airwaves. In tuning in with their personal radio receivers, moving in space or touching the fabric, participants can explore the spatial boundaries and haptic qualities of the installation. In the presence of a knitted electronic object viewers are invited to fantasize an alternative reality and speculate. What if, instead of purchasing hardware electronics we could directly knit them from scratch in our homes? In an imaginary world of home knitted electronics, how would we relate to our devices? Would we mend them with crossing threads for repair? Would we protect them with lavender sachets instead of silica gel? How would this alternation shift the way we value and prize materials, natural resources, geographical locations, personality traits, physical skills, and qualifications.

Technically, the underlying circuit is an adaption from Tetsuo Kogawa’s schematic of the β€œSimplest Radio FM Transmitter”. However, distinctively, electronic parts used as capacitors, resistors and the coil are made by knitting ordinary yarns together with electronically conductive yarns in deliberate configurations and patterns. Visually, the textile contains references to the ancient radio grill clothes that covered antique radios in the early 20th century.

Materials: Wool, Cotton, Copper, Silver, Stainless Steel, Silk, BC337 Transistor, 12V Power Supply, Audio Source, Radios.



More about Drapery FM

A lot of pictures:

General experiments

For more details, we turn to websites specific to the project.

Stitching Worlds is an artistic research project funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF): AR 284-G21 in the Programme for Arts-Based Research (PEEK).The project was carried out between May 2014 and June 2018 at the Department of Industrial Design 2, University of Applied Arts Vienna.

Email to MITERS I compiled this in, for my reference

social media unhappiness and the pleasure of ghosting

I. Up until yesterday, I was going to be a teaching assistant for the Science of Happiness. Part of the “why” for teaching the class that the professor gave was that, since 2012, there seems to be accelerating levels of anxiety and stress in the undergraduate population. Still, I’ve done the readings for the first few lectures,

II. I thought I’d escaped the “social media anxiety” clusterfk, since I almost never check Facebook, instead sticking to Messenger and other 1-on-1 conversations.

III. News articles reported that reading other people’s happy stories made people unhappy; my responsive was to aggressively share all my failures. I felt validated when I saw that other people were in fact forming spontaneous gatherings to share startup failures.

IV. Yesterday a friend told me that I was basically live-tweeting my life at them, and it was stressing them out.

Turns out I was causing other people anxiety — I was contributing to the social media anxiety circle! This caused me to take a step back and realize I was also feeling a great deal of anxiety talking to all my friends online. Somehow my rat brain had decided that if someone had read a message (per read receipt) and didn’t respond within an hour or twelve, PROBABLY THEY HATED ME FOREVER.

VI. With any sort of introspection, I’d probably say my anxiety about communication frequency mismatches started with my first pseudo-relationship (my first love!) where my ex just ghosted me instead of being up-front and ending the relationship.

But you know what? We’re still friends, and pretty good ones at that, some years later.

So even if my friends read all my posts and yet never respond to me, we’re almost certainly still friends and would be warm toward each other in real life.

To be fair, it wasn’t just my ex ghosting me, —
actually, I won’t post what other bad things have happened to me, since I can feel my own anxiety levels rising just thinking about them.

VII. Earlier today I impulsively uninstalled or otherwise hid all my chat apps (signal, hangouts, whatsapp, and my two messenger accounts I use in mobile browsers) from my phone today. I also uninstalled pidgin on my laptop, which is my conduit to hangouts and messenger on desktop.

(I did forget to get my Signal passcode before I impulsively uninstalled it, so my 2GB backup file is worthless now. But, who really needs that history anyway!)

And wow! I’ve found ghosting people to be really pleasant and enjoyable on the other side. It’s really nice to clear my head of six ongoing asychronous conversations and their respective statuses in my head, and feel the solid bedrock of my friendships with people underneath all the noise.

To be fair, I’m not sure how pleasant this would be outside of classes. As school has started, I’ve gotten a lot more in-person social time with people I actually enjoy hanging out with. The regularity of that contact, as well as the camaraderie of working together in classes, has been really nice for me. I realized I haven’t had that in my actual work (research), and was constantly flailing around anxiously in search of it.

Yea, it actually feels really, really nice to have hours of regular, pleasant, in-person human interaction replace my anxiety-riddled online texting of friends.

VIII. Here’s a nice song summarizing this blog post:
“Lewberger – Facebook Break Official Music Video”

In particular, the “six hours” part πŸ™‚