The sound and conceptual artist Alyce Santoro has invented a unique way to repurpose technology for fashion, weaving cassette tape with polyester thread to create Sonic Fabric, a textile that can play sounds from the tape.
Comprising equal parts repurposed cassette tape and polyester, Sonic Fabric is highly durable and functional. Dredging a tape head across the surface produces a collage of sounds, which Santoro records onto the tape herself. The sounds are looped and layered samples she has found, created and collected, everything from popular music and nature sounds to jam sessions from her high-school punk band.
Childhood memories of using cassette tape as wind indicators, known as “tell-tails,” for the small sailboats she raced with her family, planted the initial seeds for the idea that would become Sonic Fabric. “I used to imagine that if the wind hit the tell-tails just right, the sounds of whatever had been recorded onto the tape (Cat Stevens? Beethoven? The Beatles?) could be heard wafting out into the air,” she writes on her personal website.
When she learned about Tibetan Buddhists’ practice of hanging prayer flags emblazoned with images of mantras in prominent outdoor spots—in the belief that the wind would blow the sounds of the mantras around the world—it birthed the idea for the fabric. “I became inspired to create a fabric that had sonic potential literally woven into it,” she writes.
She began to collect and record tapes of music and sounds that had influenced her life, from artists like the Beatles and Miles Davis, to the sounds of nature and religion such as ocean surf and Buddhist and Gregorian chants. Looking to meld the sounds of cultures and genres that seemingly clash, she crafted her first Sonic Fabric creation, the “Sonic Superhero Dress,” from 100 cassette tapes.
Since then, museums and galleries around the world have exhibited pieces incorporating Sonic Fabric. The current edition of the fabric plays a collection of sounds drawn from on and under the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
For those interested in their own singing garments, Santoro sells neckties, bookmarks and fabric swatches made from her fabric.
For more information, see the full article here.