SOFT MONITOR is an art and design collective focused on telling stories of materials, technology, and culture through physical experience.
Founded in 2017 by Victoria Manganiello and Julian Goldman, SOFT MONITOR’s recent projects include participation at the Wall Street Journal Future of Everything Festival (NY, NY), Currents New Media Festival (Santa Fe, NM), Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (IN), and the Museum of Arts and Design (NY, NY). Julian is an award-winning designer focused on cutting-edge materials, sustainable design, and computer-aided making for varied product-directed companies. Victoria is an award-winning textile artist and professor (New York University and Parson’s), with multiple internationally recognized exhibitions, residencies, and awards under her belt.
c o m p u t e r 1. 0
Full or empty; color or clear; zero or one; under or over – c o m p u t e r 1.0 imagines a display for the future by looking at displays from our past. Artists Julian Goldman and Victoria Manganiello create a large-scale textile woven by hand using hollow polymer tubing and natural fiber thread. A patterned series of colored liquid/oil/air pixels are pumped into the tubes in a sequence dictated by data and/or sensors from the immediate environment and a series of computer-controlled valves, air compressors, and pumps. This textile functions as a lo-fi computer display, made with ancient, natural materials and techniques juxtaposed with contemporary digital technologies.
In exhibition, the operating system is in the viewer’s initial observation; the technologies and the sounds they make are not hidden but are an integral part of the audience experience. We show the means of production, rather than hiding it.
c o m p u t e r 1.0 also functions as a historical lens showing how our relationship to computing technology has always been fraught with opposed promises of utopian and dystopian futures. In 1801, French master silk weaver Joseph Marie Jacquard developed a loom using punch cards to direct cloth weaving. It was the first automated task production tool and was an engine for the Industrial Revolution, mechanizing the work of thousands of laborers across Europe and igniting the industrial age and slew of novel ideological movements. The Jacquard loom is a direct, though often forgotten, ancestor of our modern computers directly leading to discoveries by Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing and onwards to our new-found obsession and addiction to digital display.
We represent this digital heritage with digitized cloth, recalling topics of data, privacy, and equity surrounding our communication infrastructure. This installation reminds us that our current digital existentialism and the persistent question of “are we better off?” is a conversation two centuries in the making between Luddites and evangelists.