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Elizabeth Meiklejohn

World Settings

The term “world settings” refers to a set of parameters, in video games and 3D rendering software, that permit physically impossible changes. In these environments, the strength of gravity, the behavior of light and the passage of time can be redefined at will. Making these adjustments exposes the virtual world as unique in two ways: first, its conditions are explicitly defined by numerical inputs that are “user-facing,” the mechanics by which they shape the world made visible. Second, these inputs can be reconfigured to make the world more comfortable, more entertaining or simply different from the default. In the physical world, our control is more limited: we can't cast rays of sunlight across the walls at night, or turn any room into an anechoic chamber. For most people, even choosing a living or working environment based on its experiential qualities isn't possible: we settle into available spaces and adapt them, or ourselves. The promise of customizing one's own physical world—not just by adding personal possessions, but by modifying the rules by which phenomena in that world occur—is appealing, perhaps empowering to those who feel at odds with their current settings. Some everyday objects already perform in this way, modulating sound, light, temperature and comfort: from velvet curtains to weighted blankets, textiles can affect the atmosphere of an architectural space at both far and close range. 

This body of work proposes a set of modifications for interior environments. Consisting of vertically hanging and freestanding textiles, the collection explores the sensory qualities of fabrics and their transformative powers. Fabrics with pronounced surface texture, pile, thickness and compressibility offer comfort and complex tactile stimulation; other constructions, such as foam-like materials and rippled surfaces, can shape the acoustic character of a space for an occupant some distance away, who may not even realize their presence. The visual patterns applied to both categories of fabric provoke a searching, “haptic” response from the viewer through naturalistic, though artificial, suggestions of light and shadow. Sight, hearing and touch are addressed - sometimes independently of each other, sometimes simultaneously—by the textiles presented here.