How digital technologies leads to new forms of expression

Berit Greinke takes over the junior professorship for Wearable Computing at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) and the Einstein Center Digital Future (ECDF) on August 1, 2018.

Greinke grew up in Schleswig-Holstein and began her professional career with an apprenticeship in screen printing before studying Textile and Surface Design at Weißensee Academy of Art Berlin. She then relocated to London to study a master’s degree in Design for Textile Futures at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. “At the same time, I worked internationally as an artist and educator using electronic textiles and smart materials. I am interested in the intersection of crafts, textile design and digital technology, exploring this through installations and performances. Working with a biologist for example, we investigated how designers and scientists deal with the issue of 'negative data' (i.e. unproven hypotheses or failed experiments). These kinds of results are seen differently in the two disciplines, and we explored what they can learn from each other by proposing smart materials turning into desirable furniture through uncontrolled bacteria growth.”

In 2011, Greinke began her PhD at the Doctoral Training Centre in Media and Arts Technology at Queen Mary University of London. “This was an interdisciplinary program in which students with a background in creative disciplines studied towards PhDs in electronic engineering and computer science. My thesis looked at three-dimensional textile structures that interact with electromagnetic fields in very unusual ways. The project was based on research into ‘metamaterials’ – antenna structures that bend rays of light around a space so that they are not reflected or absorbed, making the space appear invisible. The focus was on manufacturing technologies and analysis of the electromagnetic properties of these metatextiles. It was a very interdisciplinary PhD, which brought together e-textile design and electromagnetic engineering. The aim was to investigate prototyping methods and tools from experimental textile design to see whether they are suitable for the construction of metatextiles, and at the same time to introduce the potential of these sensing materials to the design community,” says Berit Greinke. 

More recently she conducted research in the group Connected Textiles at the Design Research Lab led by Professor Dr. Gesche Joost at the UdK. “Here my work centered on manufacturing technology for electronic clothing, i.e. how to incorporate technology into textiles and how these garments can be produced industrially and sustainably.”

For her junior professorship, she plans to focus on four overlapping research questions, all of which are connected to materials. One is “performing materials”, and the question of how smart materials and digital technologies lead to new forms of expression in textile and fashion design. The second area is “multi-modal sensing technology”: How can processes that are normally only perceived visually be converted into haptic or audible experiences? Berit Greinke defines the third area as “micro to macro”: While textile and fashion designers used to work with materials available to them, today their work often already starts in the laboratory, designing materials down to the smallest nanostructures. The fourth focus area looks at transdisciplinary processes: What tools do we need to support collaboration between technology, design, art and science? Or would it actually be more beneficial for the creative process if the disciplines are conflicting? The junior professorship is co-financed by SAP under the PPP model. (kj)