Due: Tues. Jan 25, class time


Breathing is a common feature of all living animals. Anima – the latin root of both animation and animal – originally was used to describe ideas such as breath, soul, spirit or vital force. We are going to use our breath to animate cloth. The central question of this course is how to create expressive movements in a textile and soft materials using supporting mechanisms. Our first mechanism we will experiment with is breath-controlled pneumatic hinges.

For this exercise, we would like you to create three simple samples which animate three existing pieces of cloth using a breath-controlled pneumatic hinge. Fabric and cloth are ubiquitous in our world, so we would like you to use something that already exists for this exercise: items of clothing, bedding, curtains, sails, cleaning tools, etc. Each sample should activate cloth in a unique way. Our focus is on discovering some of the essential problems and possibilities activating cloth using pneumatic mechanisms – and what expressive qualities we can give to the cloth.

Here are a few examples:

  • placing the hinge in a strategic location under a curtain or towel to get a quick, shimmy movement.
  • extending the reach of the hinge by taping on a rod (such as a pencil or spoon), securing it to a table, and then dangling a cloth from the end of the rod and moving it up and down very, very slowly.
  • animating a heartbeat on the body under clothing

Some questions to consider:

  • What kind of character does the piece of cloth have? Can you reveal that further through movement?
  • How will you secure the hinge on a rigid item (a wall, table, body, etc) to give the hinge leverage?
  • Kind you find movements that excite you or surprise others?
  • Can you convince us something living is within?
  • What is the tempo and pace of the movement? Is this the quick breath of a mouse or a slow inhale of an elephant?


Below are the criteria we will be using to assess your assignment. As you are exploring the possibilities for this assignment, keep these criteria in your focus:

  1. Stay open and go with your discoveries. We are most interested in seeing what you discover that is engaging and is working, not simply an implementation of an idea you have predetermined. For example, you may be trying to execute a specific idea, but along the way you discover something that is much more engaging or works more smoothly than your original idea. Put aside the original plan and go with the new discovery that is actually working.
  2. Experimentation and creative exploration is more important than refinement. The purpose of this assignment is for you to use your time trying multiple experiments and ideas, rather than perfecting only a few. Your resulting experiments need to work but do not need to be highly refined. Develop your experiments enough so that they are convincing and understandable, but not so much that you get stuck in the details of perfect construction. For now, accept that you are using temporary materials to create your experiments (tape, ziplock bags, cardboard, etc.) and that there will still be room for further refinement.
  3. Make clear documentation. Your online documentation will be how we experience many of your assignments. It is very important that your documentation clearly communicates your projects. Tips: Remove distracting items from the background; make sure your camera is in focus and your lens is clean; use a tripod or other support to stabilize your camera; if you are shooting video, orient your camera in the landscape (horizontal) format; make sure your project is well lit and without distracting shadows.


  • Upload a post with the following:
    • brief videos showing the movement of your three samples
    • supporting images as needed to explain the structure
    • a few sentences about your approach and experience in the post.