Installation with a stool for a participant to sit on
Art Culture Installations

Fabric of Time

What are the traces people leave across time? Inspired by the traditional handloom weaving process for Kanjivaram silk sarees, this thesis explores the concept of human interconnectedness across space and time through an interactive installation that encourages participants to leave lasting traces of themselves for the future, and connects them to the past through the art of weaving.


Suraj Barthy


Sharleen Smith


This project explores the interconnectedness of individuals across time and space through the creation of an installation that combines traditional handloom weaving techniques with modern computer technology. By using a loom, jacquard cards, and a computer, participants can leave a physical and digital trace of themselves. The physical trace is captured through the act of weaving, which adds their picture, the digital trace, to a display and encodes their presence for future generations. The installation highlights the importance of individual contributions to the larger fabric of human experience, as the faces of the participants are seen through the holes in the cards, emphasizing that without their presence, the installation would be empty just as the cards would be without the designs encoded in them.

Installation with a stool for a participant to sit on


As part of my research, I went through a long journey, starting with reflecting on my life's work. It took me down a path of understanding why I was who I was. Some elements of my research included Van Gogh's 'Starry Night', Walt Whitman's 'Crossing Brooklyn Ferry', The Long Now Foundation, Reddit's r/place, Slow Interactions, Michael Wesely's long exposure photography, the book 'Sum' by David Eagleman, my father's HMT watch, time, memory, loss, love, family, friends, and a lot of faculty and friends at ITP.

Technical Details

'Fabric of Time' brought together most of the skills I had before coming to ITP, skills I had picked up at ITP, and new skills that I picked up for the project itself. It uses 80/20 aluminium extrusions (it comes in black, Mr.Wayne!). It is phenomenally modular, and I 3D printed some mounts for my webcam and display and some supports for the extrusions themselves. The shuttle on the loom uses a photocell to track whether the shuttle is present or not and sends values over Serial through an Arduino to a Javascript sketch that lives on Glitch. This sketch, in turn, triggers the camera and takes a picture of the participant, while also making a Stepper motor turn 90 degrees, rotating the cards as in a real loom. I added magnifying glasses for accessibility and also as signifiers to show that there was something to be seen.

Close-up of the loom with the participant's hands weaving holding the shuttle while weavingImage showing 4 3D renders showing the user flow. The first render is of the complete installation with a participant sitting in front of it. The second render is a close-up of the jacquard cards with the participant still on the right side of the frame. The third render is a close-up of just the cards with the holes having faces of other people. The fourth render is from the participant's point of view looking down at the loom, with the cards in the top half of the frame.The installation with a participant sitting on the stool in front of it and looking at the faces through the cards using a magnifying glass.Image of the participant's hand holding a magnifying glass to the cards. The glass shows a magnified view of the cards and the screen behind it. In the background, the cards and the display are seen.