Maggie Orth.

Free tech-y talk in Surrey by Seattle artist who creates colour-changing textiles

Maggie Orth’s ‘Moving Towards Stillness’ at Surrey Art Gallery’s TechLab until mid-December

A Seattle-based artist who fuses computer science, sensor technology, fashion and design into her textile art will speak in Surrey on Saturday evening (Nov. 3), from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Maggie Orth’s talk is timed with her current “Moving Towards Stillness” show at Surrey Art Gallery’s TechLab, as part of fabric-focused exhibits there this fall.

Her interactive, colour-changing textiles are featured at the gallery until mid-December.

Admission is free for Saturday’s event featuring Orth, who will highlight her roles as both an artist and an academic.

Orth founded International Fashion Machines, one of the first companies to patent, research and develop electronic textiles for public and private use, according to an event advisory. Some of her clients have included DuPont, The North Face, Motorola and Boeing. Her research led to her signature series of interactive textile artworks.

• RELATED STORY: ‘Connecting Threads’ and more in Surrey Art Gallery’s fall shows.

Orth’s exhibition at Surrey Art Gallery shows several artworks from the series of the same name. Each artwork consists of a small computer interface and a hand-woven textile. When a visitor presses a button, heat-sensitive ink printed onto the weave of the fabric slowly changes colour.

”As if by magic,” say curators at SAG, “hidden patterns emerge from the darkness. With multiple patterns programmed into a single textile, Orth presents us with a vision of the future of art and technology.”

But there is a catch: Over time, these patterns get burnt into the weaving because the ink fails to return to its original dark colour.

Orth refers to her work as colour-change textiles.

“From the very first time a viewer pushes the button to watch them perform, they are dying: moving toward stillness and the end of their electronic life,” she states.

Raves Rhys Edwards, assistant curator at Surrey Art Gallery: “With her expertise in multiple disciplines, Maggie Orth synthesizes some of the oldest and newest forms of technology in existence. Her art demonstrates how weaving practices are just as relevant now as they ever have been.”

A bio describes Orth is an artist, writer and technologist.

“Her work in electronic textiles includes programmable colour-change textiles, interactive textile and light pieces, electronic fashions, and design products. She was named a 2007 USA Target Fellow in recognition of her artistic work. She holds a PhD in Media Arts and Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Masters of Science from MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies, and a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design. Her artworks and designs have been exhibited globally and have appeared in TIME Magazine, WIRED, and The New York Times, among others. She lives and works in Seattle, Washington.”

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