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Liquid Loom

Interactive Kinetic Sculpture & Projected Art

Liquid Loom is an optokinetic arrangement in which Cere Davis builds a bridge between digital art and material culture.  At its heart are backlit LCD glass panes recycled from vintage ATM screens, stripped of all electronic controls and revealed as bare liquid filled glass suspended within a translucent frame.  To our customary notion of electronics, this visual ensemble appears defunct, and lifeless, lacking a conventional means of control or electrical power.  But this seemingly dormant assembly awakens as luminous threads emerge in response to nearby electrostatic energy.  Electrons flowing between the ion source and human contact from create crossing glitch style streams which naturally fade into an Indonesian Batik patterns reminiscent of Javanese cloth dyeing and other forms indigenous art. The dynamic interplay between invisible charges and liquid crystal leave behind visually resonant footprints as they are born, reborn, grow, change and slowly fade away. 

This work explores the intersection of industrial design and process-based aesthetics, investigating the tensions that exist between the chaos of natural world and the hyper-optimization of our modern technology. Once emancipated from its former role as an ATM screen, bare liquid crystal filled glass flows freely displaying resonant patterns which naturally emerge in response to nearby electrostatic fields. We re-contextualize flat screen technology, originally designed for digital precision, as a way to visually explore chaos as well as question our ideas of what is considered to be 'waste'. Set against the ubiquitous backdrop of our digital culture, this work backgrounds ideals of pixel precision and foregrounds the aesthetics of the material behavior in a new context.  Without the use of electronic controllers or microchips, Liquid Loom invites us to participate tactilely with subtle electrostatic footprints generated and left behind by human movement and contact.  Through this media we are able to witness our direct effect on the nanoscale world. We are free to explore the material properties and behavior of LCD glass as a media onto itself; its shape, its color, its manner of responding to its electrostatic surroundings and the way in which subtle design differences of each LCD display results in slightly different responses and visual effects. 


Liquid crystal displays are, in essence, charged liquid sandwiched between a microscopically small glass gap, imperceptible to the naked eye.  By recontextualizing this delicate design, the optical properties of charged liquid behave as a kind of interactive polariscope, visually responsive to subtle electrostatic charges generated through friction and motion.  Vintage forms of LCD screen technology - often used in ATM screens - are special in that they do not constrain the flow of electrostatic energy across the panes, thus allow one to freely "draw" chaotic visual textures across the glass as an emergent conversation between the user and technology.

Technical details:  Analog electrostatic powered, human touch controlled LCD windows.  


Components:  Conductive edge traces, LCD glass, anisotropic conductor, acrylic, electro-mechanical ion transducer, LED lights.


Electronics:  Power needed for LED backlighting only

Digital/software:  None

Sponsored by:

Awesome Foundation, SF Chapter 


Berkeley Civic Arts

Featured in Neural magazine, Issue 61. Liquid Loom, Terminal Recycled Aesthetics

Shown at Mutek.SF Festival, 2019

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