We use quilts to memorialize histories and tell stories, to protect us and comfort us. But quilts also lay silently, storing our memories. They know how we sleep, when we get cold, when we cry into them, when we need protection, how many bodies are under or on top of them. What if your quilt could speak? What stories would it share? What would it remember? What would it forget? What happens when the Quilt is the one telling your story?

The Tell Tale Quilt is a quilt that shares intimate, but non-identifiable data about its owner with anyone who wants to listen. It is an array of eight patches, each containing an embroidered fabric speaker constructed from conductive thread and magnets. Opening a patch activates the speaker, recounting one memory stored by the Quilt.

A growing number of our everyday devices have the ability to collect, store, and communicate stories about us: your likes, your habits, your movements, your locations, even your emotions. Often we have no choice what is gathered and shared. Woven together, these aggregated data points form a story about you that is valuable for companies, third parties, and governments. But is it you? Is this the story you would choose to tell about yourself? The Tell Tale Quilt imagines a future where the textiles knitted into our lives also have the ability to collect and share information. Will this new layer of intimate details stitch a more complete story of you or further obfuscate it? Perhaps more importantly, which option would we want?


Technical documentation can be found here. To listen to a fabric speaker, see video below:

Created during a month-long residency at Laboratory in Spokane, WA.