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Delving into the Project 'Ambient Weaving' that Incorporates Invisible Environmental Factors into Fabric

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Ars Electronica, held in Linz, Austria, is one of the world's largest media art events, celebrating art, cutting-edge technology, and culture. At the 'STARTS (Innovation at the Nexus of Science, Technology, and the ARTS) Prize 2022,' aimed at promoting collaborative practices of science and technology in the art sector, 'Ambient Weaving,' co-developed by ZOZO NEXT Inc., Yasuaki Kakehi Laboratory of UTokyo, and Hosoo Co., Ltd., was honored with the Honorary Mention and will be exhibited at Ars Electronica 2022, held from September 7 to 11.
Following the interview with Satoshi Nakamaru, who was in charge of this project at ZOZO NEXT, we had a chance to hear from Professor Yasuaki Kakehi, who leads the Yasuaki Kakehi Laboratory at UTokyo.
Could you tell us about 'Ambient Weaving,' which won theHonorary Mentionat Ars Electronica, and share what you strongly focused on, such as the concept of the work, how it's presented, expressive aspects, etc.?
'Ambient Weaving' is a project that seeks new possibilities in fabrics by overlaying cutting-edge materials and their manufacturing and control technologies with traditional crafts and aesthetics. Especially in this project, we have been working on incorporating invisible environmental factors, such as heat, humidity, and flow, into the fabric. It's a prototyped attempt to address how fabrics can serve as an interface between people and the environment, and how fabrics can act naturally as part of environmental factors from various perspectives.
One of the pieces within 'Ambient Weaving,' “Drifting Colors”
One of the pieces within 'Ambient Weaving,' “Drifting Colors”
“Drifting Colors” is a piece in which the color changes as water containing pigments seeps into the fabric.
“Drifting Colors” is a piece in which the color changes as water containing pigments seeps into the fabric.
Could you share your thoughts on receiving the award?
I'm deeply honored. The STARTS Prize recognizes projects that have demonstrated advanced outputs, not from one-sided approach of either art or science, but by enhancing both. In this regard, it's encouraging that the jury appreciated our project's aims of both technological advancement and aesthetic perfection.

A Wealth of Solutions to Challenges is the Essence of Collaboration

From your perspective, what was the charm of this project and the unique pleasure of collaboration?
In a collaboration that includes experts in technology, techniques, and expression, the ways to overcome challenges are varied, and I'm always surprised and enjoying the process of finding such a solution. Also, thanks to the longtime collaboration, the artisans can think of research ideas, the engineers learn weaving techniques, spin threads, and so on, so we can interact beyond our existing expertise. I find it wonderful to witness such growth and the emergence of new specialties.

Could you share your eagerness or thoughts for the exhibition?
Ars Electronica is an important opportunity for us to present the research or works we are most proud of each year. Especially since we couldn't participate physically due to COVID-19 in recent years, I'm looking forward to attending the festival after a long time. I'm excited to see what kind of feedback we receive and what kind of chemical reactions occur when this project catches the eyes of cutting-edge, creative people around the world.
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