Atayal eyes

During the Summer of 2017 Aniela Hoitink has spent time with the Atayal tribe in Maypuwal (Miaoli, Taiwan) to learn about their techniques and exchange knowledge. She was part of the residency “Tribe against machine” where she learned how ramie is grown and how fibers are made in a traditional way, as well as to truly dye with nature.

Fascinated by the beautiful patterns, stories and history of the Atayal tribe, she developed Atayal eyes. With Atayal eyes her aim was to develop a modern variation of a historic garment. In Atayal culture, the back of garments have the most decorations. Particular one pattern is know for having many eyes incorporated. She was told that this pattern with the many eyes was at the back because

“on the front they have their own eyes, but on the back they cannot see”

This pattern would also allow them to talk with their ancestors. To translate this to modern times, Aniela used capacitive sensing to allow the wearer to notice when someone is behind them. The cape will then alert him/her by sending out a signal. This signal is developed by Luis Rodil-Fernandéz and based on the decoded pattern of an Atayal eye. This coding has been developed during discussions between Luis and Audrey Briot on how to translate these complicated patterns into an easier code for weaving.

The back of this cape is made of a combination of bio-plastic with organic raw ramie. The Lihang Workshop is growing ramie and Aniela was allowed to participate in the harvest. Ramie is a very interesting material. It grows fast and can be harvested at least four times a year. To make this plant into soft fibers is however quite a task, which makes it an expensive material. Aniela has therefor been working with the raw ramie in order to find new ways of using this material without having the expensive labour. For the cape bio-plastic has been used as a bonding agent between the fibers. And by directly making this into the desired shape of the cape, much waste is eliminated during the production phase.

The pattern on the back is based on two eyes and a connection part taken from the Atayal pattern. The eyes are the capacitive sensors and are connected to a lilypad at the connection part of the pattern. The front is made of stitched-together raw ramie. The combination of a plain front with a decorative back is the same that has been used in many of the historic garments.