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“IAMI” 2013 fiber optic data tapestry by LigoranoReese

“IAMI” by LigoranoReese is a fiber optic data tapestry of personal data, the portraiture of self-quantification ubiquitous in contemporary culture. It’s a cloud-based artwork that is a living color field.

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IAMI, 2013

Woven fiber optic thread, plexiglass, brass and aluminum frame, MacMini, Internet, custom electronics and custom software, 38 x 23 inches framed

Technical process Collector inputs data using Fitbit and Aria scale and answers a self-reporting survey sms’d three times per day monitoring their wellbeing over a 2 or 4 week sitting session. On completion of the sketch, LigoranoReese commit the data to a continually changing portrait of woven light.

Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese designed and invented the fiber optic data tapestry, after almost 10 years research with weavers, hardware and software engineers. The Fiber Optic Data Tapestry is an art form about networking, communication, and society. The project started from the idea that weaving is a social activity shared throughout the world’s cultures. Pre-Incan indigenous peoples wove Quipus as a form of accounting; in Europe, medieval tapestries told narratives. Closer to our time, during the industrial revolution, the first mechanical looms Jacquard looms used punch cards to control the warp and the weft, and hence were the first computers.

Today, our stories are threaded and networked throughout the web. These factors guided the artists in choosing the tapestry as a form for an artwork about communication, society, and as a metaphor about the transmission and weaving of information

Self-quantification has become more and more ubiquitous in our culture, reflecting an increasing trend to visualize one’s activities aggregated, quantified and reflected in a mirror of metrics and personal technology. This growing preoccupation captured our imaginations – what kind of portrait could we create given one’s personal data? Could a portrait of measure be a 21st century artistic innovation?

I•AM•I is a woven data portrait. From morning to midnight, I•AM•I interacts with its subject, responding to their physical activities and emotions through the subject’s input via mobile devices resulting in an ever changing, animated field of woven light and patterns.

The frenetic rhythms normally associated with data are slowed down to a meditative pace for reflection and wonder in I•AM•I.  It is a visual raga, representing a person’s movement and their sentiment in a dance of color and pattern. Its fiber optic threads reveal an internal set of feelings usually obscured beneath fabric one wears to become a choreographed portrait of movement and emotion painted by a data driven brush.

This live, cloud-based artwork constantly communicates with the I•AM•I database storing the sitter’s information from their FitBit account and emotional surveys. Pinging the I•AM•I server throughout the day, the tapestry responds to most recent changes adding new colors and patterns on its woven panel at morning, noon and evening.

At midnight the panel’s entire surface becomes a breathing color field, first resting then going to sleep at 1AM, waking up at 6 the next morning. Coloration is drawn from Thai/Khmer colors of the day and Plutchik’s wheel of emotions so that viewers can discern the day, the type of activities and the scale of emotions on the piece’s woven surface. The portrait is structured in weekly cycles of 7 days and daily progressions of 11 emotions.

IAMI exhibitions Code and Noise, Currents, Sante Fe, New Mexico, 2016; Code and Noise, Silicon Valley Fair, 2015;Mankind/Machinekind, Krinzinger Gallery, Vienna 2015; Catharine Clark Gallery 2014, San Francisco, California; Miami Art Project, Miami, Florida 2013.

IAMI collections 21C Museum, University of Wyoming Art Museum, private collector


The collaborative team of Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese rethink traditional art forms investigating the impact of technology on art with new materials and processes. Their latest new media sculptures, illuminated woven fiber optic data tapestries, weave light based on real time data to form a picture of a world usually not seen.  The fiber optic data tapestries are an art form about networking, communication, and society.

Their body of work is multidisciplinary and spans limited edition multiples, videos, sculptures, and installations. For the artists the idea informs the medium, employing a broad array of strategies and approaches to their art making.

Recent public installations include The American Dream Project (2016) in Cleveland and Philadelphia during the Republican and Democratic Conventions and Dawn of the Anthropocene (2014) in New York City. LigoranoReese’s work can be found in the permanent collections of numerous institutions, including SFMOMA, The New York Public Library, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and The Getty Institute. LigoranoReese live and work in Brooklyn, New York and have been affiliated with Catharine Clark Gallery since 2010.


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