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PIXELS AS MATERIALS
Moiré is an optical phenomenon that is produced when two patterns are overlaid. Out of their interference comes something entirely new — a “third image”. When you walk past a fence, or a TV screen, sometimes the layers line up, and a moiré pattern emerges. Each time, this pattern is different depending on the relationship — the angle, scale, separation, and distance — between one layer and the next.
Rooted in the history of textiles, the moiré pattern has more recently become known in its digital form, as seen on screens. However, the pattern has a much deeper history, one that weaves together the worlds of fashion and digital image-making:
MOIRÉ’S TEXTILE ORIGINS
The term moiré originates from Moire — a “watered textile” with a dreamy texture traditionally made from silk. The textile’s pattern is produced when layers of its wet material are folded and printed onto themselves. The pressing together of the lattice of threads, slightly misaligned, results in a flowing pattern, which has been admired as far back as The Middle Ages.
A symbol of wealth, the luxurious Moire fabric has been a popular feature of portraits over centuries. Painstakingly painted, the pattern adorns sophisticated womens’ dresses and stately mens’ sashes.
MOIRÉ IN THE DIGITAL
Today, the moiré pattern is more often seen on screens than skirts. Like the two layers of silk used to create the Moire textile, the layers of digital images often interfere with each other to create an unwanted visual artefact on the surface.
Termed a “woodgrain artefact”, the pattern is a common byproduct of many different processes undertaken to create digital images, from scanning to ray tracing. And that's just on the image. TV screens themselves are made up of horizontal scan lines, offering a permanent layer just waiting to be interfered with.
As the leftovers of digital layering in an increasingly digital world, moiré has come to feel overwhelmingly digital. It’s become intimately associated with our experience of viewing digital media.
Ironically, however, even as the medium for moiré has changed, its ties to textiles have not.
Whilst moiré patterns have now become deeply entrenched in the digital, there remains more than just an etymological link to its ancestry in fabrics. As if to nod to its own textile origins, moiré most commonly emerges when clothes are seen on screen.
Due to the interference caused by the textile’s own patterns, screen-clothes are often plagued with moiré. In fact, so rife is the pattern on “worn images” that news reporters are warned against wearing moiré-susceptible garments, such as houndstooth jackets, on air so as to avoid distracting their audiences with surreal screen motifs.
The same interference between layers — occurring in both the analog and the digital, in both the textile and the digital image of the textile — traces the legacy of the shimmering pattern across time periods and mediums of clothing.
MOIRÉ IN SEEN ON SCREEN
Around the moiré pattern there exists this closed loop between textiles, digital images and digital images of textiles. In SEEN ON SCREEN the moiré pattern sits at this closed loop’s center, where all of its contexts converge — a textile pattern which emerges from the garments’ own digital layers.
Instead of copying and pasting a pattern onto garments, in this collection, each garment is constructed like a digital image: its own layers interfere to generate unique moiré patterns. And just like a digital image, exactly how that pattern emerges in each garment, or whether it emerges at all, results from its layers’ qualities — their angle, scale, separation, distance.
But more than a flat pattern, moiré finds its natural progression in this collection. In 3D, the moiré pattern becomes dynamic. As one moves around the garments, the patterns form and dissolve as perspective shifts and the layers reposition.
In embedding these layers into the collection, allowing the patterns to emerge organically, moiré is experienced in a way like never before. The changing patterns transform the garments into interactive digital sculptures.
In centering moiré — a pattern which follows textiles into the digital medium —SEEN ON SCREEN seeks to acknowledge the digital image (and all that comes with it) as central to the next era of fashion.
In exalting in the moiré pattern, the garments exalt in themselves as digital objects.