Alyce Santoro: SONIC FABRIC

  • ©, Alyce Santoro, SONIC FABRIC



Artist(s) and People Involved:



    Audible Textile

Artist Statement:

    SONIC FABRIC is an audible textile woven from recycled audiocassette tape. Many pieces incorporating SONIC FABRIC can be included in an installation, including the “sonic shaman/superhero” dresses, a large SONIC FABRIC umbrella, and the “tell-tail thangkas”, strings of silkscreened flags (based on the idea behind tibetan prayer flags).

    SONIC FABRIC is a textile woven from recycled audiocassette tape that has been recorded with a collage of sounds collected from a wide range of sources, including music, ambient nature and urban noise, spoken word, etc. The material can actually be made audible by running a tape head over its surface. A dress made from the fabric was worn and “played” on stage by Jon Fishman, former drummer of the band Phish, on April 16, 2004.

    The making of SONIC FABRIC was inspired by two things: Tibetan prayer flags, which are silkscreened with mantras that are “activated” by wind, and by small strands of cassette tape often used on sailboats as “tell-tails”, or wind indicators. Sailors often use cassette tape for this purpose, as it is durable, sensitive, and dries quickly. As a kid growing up on racing sailboats, i remember imagining that if the wind hit the tape in just the right way, i could hear The Beatles or Cat Stevens or whatever had been recorded onto the tape wafting out onto the breeze.

    Some yardage of SONIC FABRIC is now being produced at a small textile mill in Rhode Island, and more is being woven by hand at a women’s craft cooperative in Nepal.