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Reed Esslinger and Collin McRae Collaborate on Hybrid Loom/Musical Instrument

Loompianola image 1

Reed Esslinger (MFA 12) and Collin McRae (MFA 12) are collaborating on a new hybrid object that can simultaneously weave a tapestry and create music that will be on display in the Duderstadt Gallery starting on May 9.

Did you know that the technology from a Jaquard Loom in the 19th century led to the system that drives a Player Piano, which led to the first punched-hole cards used in early computing?

Drawing from this shared lineage, we are collaborating on a hybrid object that can simultaneously weave a tapestry and create music. We are creating this instrument from scratch. The taut strings of the warp of the loom are also the strings of the instrument, which we will bow with a rosined cello bow. As the tapestry grows between these strings, the pitch shifts. 

Alumna Reed Esslinger is an experienced weaver, and alumna Collin McRae is an experimental musician. Their collaborator, Esthir Lemi, is a composer / visual artist currently visiting from Athens, Greece on a Fulbright studying with Sile O’Modhrain in Performing Arts and Technology. We will be using a MaKey MaKey, a computer/real-world interface created in collaboration with Eric Rosenbaum at the MIT Media Lab.

The LoomPianola will share the gallery with its sister hybrid object, the SlingHarp. Inspired by the Guatemalan tradition of using a loom in which the user sits, using her/​his own bodyweight to create tension, our adaptation uses the bodyweight method to tighten the strings of a harp. Users will be invited to sit in the sling harp and play it.

The LoomPianola and SlingHarp will be on exhibit at the Gallery in the Duderstadt Center starting on May 9th