Tuesday, May 31, 2005

donations of tapes needed!

the great news of late is that the women at the craft cooperative in nepal where some of the sonic fabric is being produced can work directly from individual cassette tapes (as opposed to the spools of tape that are being "adaptively reused" at the wonderful mom-n-pop mill here in the states)! so i can once again accept donations of individual tapes. all kinds welcome, especially lovingly-made vintage mix tapes, experimental stuff, homemade recordings of local sounds, rants, raves, spiritual and indiginous musics, your favorite stuff that you've been hesitant to part with, but would for a good cause. please send tapes to:

sonic fabric c/o
daniel tamang
Shangri-La Crafts
2708 Virginia St.
Berkeley, Ca 94709

text of the ny times article

I Can't Hear You Over That Dress

Published: May 1, 2005

This fabric is loud. Not 70's-necktie loud - literally loud. Sonic Fabric, a 50-50 blend of cotton and cassette tape, is the brainchild of Alyce Santoro, a conceptual artist who thinks big, chewy thoughts in her Brooklyn studio. Ms. Santoro first wove the shimmery cloth on a loom several years ago, blending cotton with recorded cassette tapes of her high school punk band, of Jack Kerouac's voice, of Beethoven's Sixth Symphony and more. "It was just a conceptual art piece at first," she said. "It was about the 'fabric of the universe,' of having Allen Ginsberg reading next to Tibetan monks chanting next to the Beatles."

It didn't occur to Ms. Santoro that those concepts might be made audible again. But one day when she showed her creation to another artist, he whisked her to a store to buy a cassette Walkman. He unscrewed the tape head, glued it to the outside of the Walkman and moved it along the fabric. Out came a sound. Though unintelligible - a low hum like a whale cry - it was "magical," Ms. Santoro said.

Profitable, too, she hopes: the fabric of the universe is now being mass-produced. Ms. Santoro buys huge spools of blank Maxell tape and has her latest sound sampler - which includes the likes of Bjork, crickets and Tibetan monks chanting - transferred onto the spools at a Long Island duplication studio. Then the tape is woven with cotton at a Rhode Island mill and shipped to Nepal, where a Tibetan women's craft cooperative uses the fabric to make bags of Ms. Santoro's design, a hybrid of satchels carried by Tibetan monks and New York bike messengers. They're currently sold at Flirt and 3r Living in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and NY Artificial in the West Village. She's also had product placement: at a Phish concert in Las Vegas last year, the drummer John Fishman donned a sonic fabric dress and gloves with tape heads sewn into them. Mr. Fishman "played" his dress, working the audience of 20,000 into a frenzy.

The dress was recently displayed in a Massachusetts museum, pleasing Ms. Santoro, who still considers herself more artist than designer. "I'm treating it like an art project, not really like a business," she said. "Which is why I only have $300 in my bank account."

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

sonic fabric in the times!

ohmyheavens, friends, there's a lovely little article about sonic fabric in the sunday ny times: