Interlaced Objects no.1: an art installation involving textiles, data, flowers and video

In 'Interlaced Objects no.1' multimedia artist and scientist Martin Calvino arranged dissimilar objects into an art installation that portrays humanity's dependency on plants.


Often overlooked, plants not only provide us with a source of oxygen and food, but also medicine, fuel, fibers, refuge and recreation. Climate change, environmental degradation and urbanization are pressing challenges threatening the life cycle of plants.


Our shared dependency of plants is symbolized in the installation by a single (and long) textile artwork connecting (as if it were a scarf) painted mannequins. The textile work is composed in part of woven patterns interpreting DNA sequence data from a segment of chromosome 1 from sorghum, a crop plant native to Africa but highly cultivated in United States as source of grain, fodder and biofuel. The textile work was created in great part with cotton, bamboo and yute yarns, signifying the importance of plant-derived fibers for use in clothing. Mannequins in the installation represents people from different ethnic groups and geographies, for this reason they are faceless and were painted in different colors. Each mannequin is grounded to a concrete base containing artificial flowers, signifying the importance of plants for aesthetic and recreational value (Figure 1).


The installation also refers to the importance of plants in alleviating our distress throughout the pandemic (see below).


Figure 1. Images illustrating art installation composed of painted mannequins, textile work, artificial flowers, painted wooden dowels and painted concrete blocks.



The installation is accompanied by an audiovisual piece named 'Digital Cloth', also created by Calvino (Figure 2). The video artwork is inspired on Calvino's public art project 'Weaving Narratives' in which people submitted their written stories on what helped them to remain hopeful during the pandemic. Many participants had mentioned taking care of their plants or spending time outdoors in nature as soothing mechanism agains isolation during the pandemic. The video piece reflects on the process of weaving through an artistic perspective. People can access the video on their phones through the scanning of a QR code placed next to the art installation shown in Figure 1. Thus, visitors can have a physical and digital experience of Calvino's work.


Figure 2. In Digital Cloth the act of using a floor loom to weave narratives on remaining hopeful during the pandemic serves as inspiration to combine audiovisual materials, as if they were threads, into an intangible textile artwork. Based upon Calvino's public textile art project Weaving Narratives, in which he collects, records and exhibit written words from participating individuals in his community, Digital Cloth explores (and interrogates) the relationship among the spoken and written text with sounds and images.