Irmandy Wicaksono

2022 Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Prize in the Visual Arts
More about the artist

Tapis Magique

Functional Yarns and Fabrics (Conductive, Piezoresistive, Thermoplastic, Luminous), Non-functional Yarns (High-flex Polyester and Synthetic Mink), and Electronics. Intersect by Lexus, Tokyo, Japan. SXSW, Austin, USA. January 2021 – March 2022.

Tapis Magique is a pressure-sensitive, machine-knitted electronic textile carpet that generates three-dimensional sensor data based on body postures and gestures and drives an immersive sonic environment in real-time. The work unveils dancers’ creative, unconventional possibilities of agency, intimacy, and improvisation over choreography and musical composition through a textile interface. The dense geometrical patterns of the stars scattered around the brushstroke details in the tapis represent 1800 pressure-sensing pixels and are inspired by the galactic space. Parametric design transformed these patterns into a 3-D spatial illusion to illustrate the multi-dimensionality of the sensor data. The outer-facing textile glows in the dark from the luminous yarns, bringing out the starry effects for night performance.

Several musical pieces were designed to invoke various emotions to inspire conversations between the choreographer and the instrument. Behind the scenes runs a digital modular synthesizer made of several patches, each for a different type of performance. The incoming stream of MIDI data is first fed into quantizer modules that align the notes with major, minor, and pentatonic scales and mystic chords. The sounds are then generated by a collection of subtractive, additive, and granular synthesizers. “Venus Sunrise”, one of the performance pieces, presents a metaphorical celestial sound of the universe as the dancer is twirling around the stars, traveling through space and time.

Tapis Magique demonstrates the interplay between art and technology, highlighting the deep emotional link between contemporary textiles, dance, and music through the physical-digital connection. It provides a canvas for dancers and sound artists to modulate sound, perform and compose a musical piece based on choreography and vice versa; it also creates an auditory-gestural synesthetic environment that invites and encourages audiences to interact and express themselves with the tapis, as they experience a magical connection that stimulates the body and mind.

More information about the project

Installation view of Tapis Magique in the MIT Media Lab lobby, June 2021. Image credit: Irmandy Wicaksono/MIT Media Lab.

Film still from Tapis Magique in the MIT Media Lab, June 2021.
Image credit: Jimmy Day/MIT Media Lab.

Installation view of Tapis Magique in the MIT Media Lab lobby, June 2021. Image credit: Irmandy Wicaksono/MIT Media Lab.

Close up of the knitted Tapis Magique. Image credit: Irmandy Wicaksono/MIT Media Lab.

Close up of the knitted Tapis Magique, showing the brushstroke details from the twisted yarns and the geometrical patterns of the stars from the synthetic mink yarns on one side, as well as the conductive yarns matrix on the other side.


Functional Yarns and Fabrics (Conductive and Piezoresistive), Non-functional Yarns (High-flex Polyester), and Electronics. ETH Rethinking Creativity Pavilion, World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland. Intersect by Lexus, Tokyo, Japan. January 2020 – February 2021.

KnittedKeyboard is a multimodal and deformable textile-based musical interface. It utilizes digital knitting technology and a collection of functional (electrically-conductive and thermoplastic) and non-functional (polyester) fibers. The individual and combinations of the keys can simultaneously sense touch, as well as continuous proximity, stretch, and pressure. Besides providing new interactions and tactile experiences for musical expressions, a keyboard made out of fabric can be easily folded, rolled up, and packed in our luggage like a pair of socks or a scarf. It can also be wearable, which extends the functionality of such fabric-based musical controllers, similar to the keyboard tie formerly demonstrated by Laurie Anderson in the “Home of the Brave.”

“Fabric of Time and Space” is a contemporary musical piece exclusively written for KnittedKeyboard II to demonstrate and illustrate the multi-dimensional expressiveness of the instrument. The piece is a metaphor for the expanding and contracting nature of the universe. This is represented musically by the glissandi of the melody and the interplay between major and minor chords. The metaphorical perturbations of space-time are expressed by the interaction between the performer and the fabric. The musical translation of these expressions shape the envelope of the sound.

KnittedKeyboard enables performers to experience fabric-based multimodal embodied interaction and unique, intimate, and organic tactile experience as they explore the seamless texture and materiality of the electronic textile.

More information about the project

Close up view of KnittedKeyboard. Image courtesy of the artist/MIT Media Lab.

Image courtesy of the artist/MIT Media Lab.

Image courtesy of the artist/MIT Media Lab.

Image courtesy of the artist/MIT Media Lab.

About the Artist

Textile cultures have played a significant role in communities worldwide as they amplify a sense of shared identity and expression. Inspired by textile tradition and craftsmanship, Irmandy Wicaksono seamlessly fuses functional fibers and fabrics, sensing technologies, and digital knitting to develop a harmonious set of electronic textile artifacts and performances.

Wicaksono’s collective work includes Tapis Magique and KnittedKeyboard, two knitted interactive textiles that explore the relationship between movements, such as physical gestures and choreography, and intimate embodied sonic experience. By applying an artistic approach to technological textile design and experimenting with various functional and non-functional fibers and fabric architectures, Wicaksono augments knitted textiles with sensory and computation capabilities that bridge and merge the physical and digital worlds to evoke memories and novel experiences and spark personal relationships. His work has been published in various journals and conferences, and featured in multiple news and media, including Nature, Advanced Materials, IEEE Spectrum, FastCompany, Quartz, TechCrunch, Digital Trends, Wired Italia, Domus Magazine, and presented and exhibited in SXSW, MIT Museum, Lexus Intersect Tokyo, and the World Economic Forum. 

In the age of functional materials, digital fabrication, and immersive technologies, his approach redefines and reinvents textile purpose as a responsive skin, challenging materiality and the blurring dualities between material and immaterial, real and virtual.

More at Irmandy Wicaksono’s website

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Irmandy Wicaksono surrounded by large spools of thread as he works with a digital knitting machine.