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Althea Rao, Moon Tapestry 


NOT Pocket Size 

NO Push Notifications 

Curiosity and Human Intelligence Required


Moon Tapestry is a 28-day calendar that one can use to produce and document their daily Basal Body Temperature. Input of one’s body temperature will activate the heating elements embedded inside the tapestry, causing thermochromic patterns of moon phases to slowly emerge or disappear. Across the length of the tapestry, a temperature curve of daily moon will form. An individual knowledgeable of the symptothermal birth control method may observe from this curve important bodily events such as ovulation, menstruation, and fertility period. The tapestry is entirely offline and can remember 28 days’ of value at most. 

Most consumer FemTech apps and devices require individual users to produce intimate datasets about their bodies. These tech based products streamline data collection, input and processing with user-friendly wireframes and sleek design. They interpret our data for us; in exchange, we voluntarily surrender our data to opaque, algorithmically-driven, centralized, cloud-based servers owned by for-profit companies.  

Moon Tapestry scrutinizes this data exchange by asking: How do FemTech (often powered by artificial intelligence) reshape human intelligence when it comes to understanding what is going on with our body? Are we informed enough to make embodied decisions based on the data that we measure and collect about ourselves? How can we exercise agency and grow resilience in a heavily-surveilled world that is so hard to opt out? 

Moon Tapestry is a speculative vision of a FemTech otherwise: a design that doesn’t increase our digital dependency or harvest/broadcast massive biometric data; that’s low-tech, open-source and transparent about its algorithms; that’s fun, perhaps a bit dysfunctional, but encourages its users to reframe themselves and the world they live in, bringing meanings to one’s own data and contextualize how they are accessed or understood by others. While the tapestry holds encrypted” intimate data locally, it can also be displayed in plain-sight as an ornament. 

Textile making, softness and the tactile experience have for a long time been culturally associated with craft, domestic space, and women’s work. Far away from the current sleek, high-tech, cool girl ‘FemTech’ aesthetic, Moon Tapestry centers craft-based methodologies, aesthetics and embodied ways of knowing that womxn themselves are experts of. Its idiosyncrasy and intentional lack of usability invite gestures of curiosity and caring when tending to our body as it evolves through various stages of life.  

About the Artist: 

Mengxi “Althea” Rao designs activities and hypotheses that require voluntary efforts to overcome unnecessary obstacles. These scenarios offer rehearsals for the now we live in and/or the future(s) we are headed towards. Currently her thematic interests are centered around the feminist phenomenology of humans — knowing, reproduction, life and death. Rao organizes the Vagina Chorus (2019 – ).