The ability of textiles to display information in the form of structure and pattern is used to turn textile machines into textile display devices.
Knitting-, weaving- and sewing machines have been used to display all kinds of data, including data from acoustic sources, musical sheets, weather data and RSS newsfeeds.
When used in an artistic context, data crafting often constitutes synesthesia in art, since the sensoric quality of the data in the original medium is transformed when it is encoded into a textile medium, characterized by its predominat visual and haptic qualities.
The Newsknitter project assembles RSS news, and directly feeds it to a knitting machine. This pushes the limits of the textile fashion cycle to the extreme. While knitting machines will never achive the speed of electronic display devices, they can still compete with the daily printing press.
In Gelsomina Hannah Wiesener from UDK Berlin directly feeds the FFT of audio signals to a couple of servos interfacing directly with the punch card reader of a modified Brother/Knitking knitting machine. She has made the Processing source code available on her homepage.
The Artist duo SOUNDS.BUTTER (Patrick Li and Ian Gallais) have come up with a prototype design for a sewing machine that would render audio waveforms directly into sewing patterns.
Ulrich Reimkasten from the University of Art and Design Halle reportedly works on ways to turn classical sheet music such as Schuberts into weaving patterns.