MOSI art shows evolution from Jacquard loom to Baby computer

The Reader and artists The artwork allows people to "hear the sound of binary code"

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An interactive artwork which links the looms of the Industrial Revolution and the first computers has gone on show.

The Reader, created by art collective MidConversation, uses silk squares to "echo" the movement of Jacquard looms and chimes to represent binary code.

The looms were controlled by binary punch cards and the code was later used for the world's first programmable computer, built in Manchester in 1948.

The work can be seen at the city's Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI).

It has has been unveiled alongside a replica of that first computer, the Small Scale Experimental Machine, which became known as Baby.

It is widely regarded as being the first recognisable modern computer, due to its ability to store data and use Random Access Memory.

'Playful way'

Jacquard looms, developed by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1801, used punch cards to instruct machinery, creating patterns in cloth without a need for human intervention.

This invention allowed mechanised weaving and paved the way for programmable computers.

The Reader was created by artists Laura Jane Blake, Elizabeth Atherton and Lucy Crowder, who said it drew on "details of the Jacquard loom to bring it to life in a playful way".

They added: "The colourful laser-cut silk squares echo the movement of the loom, while another section produces a series of chimes arranged in a grid that represents binary code.

"When visitors operate the machine they effectively hear the sound of binary code."

The sculpture will be on show at MOSI until February 2014.

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