The SoftLab is a space dedicated to the research and development of artistic projects using soft-circuits and wearable technology, initiated by DXARTS Assistant Professor Dr. Afroditi Psarra. The space is located at the department’s digital fabrication lab in Ballard and is equipped with materials, tools and machines specific to the field of electronic textiles, such as a wide-collection of conductive and resistive yarns, shielding and piezo-resistive fabrics, miscellaneous electronic components, sewing, overlock and computerised knitting machines, and is soon to be equipped with two digital embroidery machines that will be acquired through an STF grant. The location of the SoftLab inside the Fablab facilitates the engagement of students taking DXARTS studio classes with electronic textiles and encourages them to develop cutting-edge research on e-textile fabrication techniques, by inventing their own wearable technologies. Furthermore, it provides access to students working within the field to other digital fabrication tools, such as the laser cutter, 3d printers, soldering and electronics stations, pcb router, industrial oven, digital wire bender etc.
The SoftLab’s mission is to examine the role of workmanship in artistic research, to redefine the use of traditional handicrafts in the post-digital era, and to explore the idea of the body as an interface. Starting off from the concept of Ubiquitous Computing, it aims to democratize the production of technology by engaging in hands-on experimentation with the creation of technology through crafting methodologies. Finally, it provides the framework for interdisciplinary research of students from all across campus and encourages creative thinking and artistic innovation.
The Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS) is an interdisciplinary degree-granting center at the University of Washington designed to support the emergence of a new generation of hybrid artists. DXARTS fosters the invention of new forms of digital and experimental arts by synthesizing expanded studio research with pioneering advances in digital computing, information technologies, performance, science, and engineering. Embracing an expansive range of arts practice, theory, and research across multiple disciplines, DXARTS creates opportunities for artists to discover and document new knowledge and expertise in an evolving field of media arts.