Opera house's fabric curtain looks like crumpled aluminum foil

 Wp-Content Uploads 2011 04 Paewhite2
Seen here is the fantastical curtain of the Oslo Opera House. Los Angeles-based artist Pae White created it by scanning crumpled aluminum foil and translating that data into instructions for a computer-controlled loom that wove the material out of cotton, wool, and polyester. "Pae White Uses Computer-Assisted Loom To Weave Opera Curtain Of Scanned Images Of Aluminum Foil" (FEELguide)


    1. I think the point is that they just used shades of grey to give the effect of shiny foil. Fantastic effect!

  1. I think it’s a wonderfully creative and impressive achievement. OTOH, it’s not particularly attractive to look at and I doubt it’s much in tune with the aesthetic of opera fans. I wonder how long it will be before audiences grow tired of it and it has to be replaced.

    It’s a shame, actually, ’cause I really do admire the vision and technical skills.

    1. I agree totally. It threatens to become more interesting than the opera. They’ll take it down within a year.

    2. Maybe it will become a traveling curtain, touring opera houses around the world. lol Personally I boo when the raise the curtain…it’s a marvel to look at.

    3. I doubt it’s much in tune with the aesthetic of opera fans.

      The last time that I went to the opera in San Francisco, which was admittedly a decade ago, the audience was all geeks from Silicon Valley. The people who go to opera are the ones who can afford the tickets.

      1. Point. The Oslo opera is very much a people’s opera, though. You can get tickets as cheap as 10 pounds. Those seats are amazingly awful – you’ll feel like you’re nesting in a bird mountain, and you may have a chink in your neck the next day, but you do get to watch the show.

        It’s also heavily subsidized. Our populist party is, of course, opposed to the building of the Opera, and opposed to culture subsidies in general. Apparently, it’s not “folksy” enough for them. I think it was the opera chief who calculated what an opera ticket would cost unsubsidized, and suggested that members of the Progress Party be allowed to pay “full price”.

        1. Point. The Oslo opera is very much a people’s opera, though. You can get tickets as cheap as 10 pounds.

          You can’t even get a sandwich and cup of coffee for that in an Oslo restaurant.

        2. No the non-adjusted price for membesr of Frp (the populist party) wsa suggested by a local politician in another part of the country (i think maybe Møre somewhere)

          There are affordable seats (bar stools)at the top, they regularly costs about 100NOK roughly equal to £11. But these seats have limited visibility.
          Regular prizes are about 500-750 NOK, roughly equal to £55-£80 or $85-$120 by current exchange rates.

          The curtain is pretty good and the 3D effect of the different shades are quite impressive.

  2. I wonder if he vectorized the raster scan, or if he simply scaled the image up. Looks great from this distance, at any rate!

  3. Fascinating production method, but is it me, or is that hideously hard on the eyes? Womb-like red velvet curtains with all it’s childhood cinema visiting goodvibes, or a mirror exploding in your face. Hmmm, tough call.

    1. Yes. But instead of a printer he used a loom. And instead of ink he used different colors of cotton, wool, and polyester thread.

  4. I thought the crumpled tin-foil look was to declasse for the opera set. People who decorate with tin-foil don’t get their drugs from the pharmacist.

    1. It’s an excellent point. When someone’s window coverings are actual aluminum foil, it sends, oddly, an entirely different message. Kind of like Die Antword (sp?) makes friends in the art scene by mimicking people that scene would otherwise shun like an obsese leprous teabagger.

  5. damn me for being a Philistine, but i can’t think of one single opera that needs to wrapped in aluminum foil.

  6. Looking at the photos, it does seem a pretty nifty kind of effect. I wish the artist’s statement about it wasn’t so pretentious, and i wish he’d chosen something a little less banal- maybe stained glass, or soap bubbles, or clouds against a blue sky.

    1. You feel soap bubbles and a cloudy sky are less banal than that? really?
      How about just using a uniform solid shade of beige. Would that have been less banal? How about a red velvet like every other stage?

      1. Bubbles and clouds exist in nature, so a realistic artistic interpretation of those textures would still leave a lot of room for expression.

        Crumpled up aluminum foil says two things to me only: trash, or recycle.

  7. “Metafoil takes advantage of the captive gaze of the audience, introducing a foil, a false reflection, an illusion of depth, a novel typography that disrupts expectation and challenges perception. My work has attempted to subvert the viewer’s expected relationship to an everyday object, nudging them off balance, encouraging a deeper look. My goal is to cause viewers to stop and consider the bits and pieces of our lives that are most often overlooked, perhaps suggesting a more comprehensive reconsideration of the world around us, even to ask ourselves: ‘What is important to us?’ ‘What are we seeing?’ ‘What are we not seeing?’”

    It kind of seems like Pae put more work into describing the artwork than making it.

    1. It kind of seems like Pae put more work into describing the artwork than making it.

      That’s how you land a job like that. Competence in finishing the job is a welcome bonus but not mandatory.

    2. Yup, once again my impression of a nifty piece of work is spoiled by the artist’s need to spout drivel about it.

  8. The computer-driven loom technique was also used on the magnificent tapestries on the interior of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in Los Angeles.

  9. Every form of mass-scale wool weaving involves a ‘computer aided loom’.

    It’s not like people make your sweaters by hand …

  10. Just wondering, but is there any kind of regional pattern to determine what people call foil made from aluminum (i.e., “aluminum foil” vs. “tinfoil”)? Or is there somewhere where they still make foil out of tin?

    1. Maybe it’s a generational transmission thing. My grandma loved to cook, and have all the little ones help.

      Also, the word “tinfoil” is shorter.

      But don’t get me started on Soda vs Pop…

    2. No, tinfoil is never made of tin. Not even here where I live (top world producer of tin till it started to run down a couple of decades back). The weird thing is, over here we call it aluminium foil.

  11. I think it is pretty awesome. Thanks to those who linked more photos of the opera house itself. I think the curtain goes with the building quite well. Quite an interesting artistic achievement!

  12. It might just be me, but when I hear “scanner” and “computer-controlled loom”, I can’t help but think what kind of curtains might end up coming out if someone gets drunk at the Christmas party.

  13. For the record, Pae is a she, not a he. I had the privilege of seeing some giant tapestries of hers along this vein at the Power Plant in Toronto not long ago, and they are simply jaw-dropping. Massive (though nothing even close to this scale), and from a distance they look like photos. Up close they look like needlepoint — it’s just thread. Very impressive!

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