This week I focused on the role of weaving in the development of computing. I have been reading about the life of Ada Lovelace. While reading Ada's Algorithms, I got a sense for the childhood and cultural setting in which Lovelace worked as an analyst and arguably the first computer programmer.
Sheila Hicks Sheila Hicks is an American textile artist. She studied traditional fiber arts around the world in Chile, Mexico, India, South Africa, Morocco and France. Originally a painter, her work challenges the definition of a tapestry, playing with color, texture, and visual rhythm. I really respect her work because it brings fiber arts into the fine art space in a very expressive, non-pictorial way.
Fragmented Memory by Phillip Stearns is a beautiful example of the overlap of textile making and computing. He converted the raw data from his computer's physical memory into RGB values and wove the pattern into a tapestry using a jacquard loom. The textile acts as data storage, while drawing attention to the roll of textile mechanization in the developing of computing.
I was really inspired by the work of Kayla Mattes. She combines the medium of tapestries with the visual language of computer interfaces from the 1990s.
“Part of the reason I use weaving for this subject matter is I definitely see parallels between digital references and the loom. There’s this mathematical process to weaving and there’s a grid that creates some limitations that in a lot of ways parallel the references I’m using.” - Kayla Mattes in Portland Textile Artist Kayla Mattes, Sight Unseen (June 2015)
Her work references the glitches and experimental/accidental aesthetics that came from limitations and naiveté in the medium.
This is a piece from Mattes' time at RISD, where she used a jaquard loom to weave imagery from AIM.
This week I continued to play with combining found components with weaving. I found a circuit board that I could thread my warp onto.
Working with these found boards has transformed the way I look at components. I've become interested in the craftsmanship and the changing ratio of parts placed by robots and parts placed by humans. I don't think there's a strong reason why people would ever stop soldering things by hand, even if it's not a viable option for mass production. Similarly, people continue knitting, embroidering and weaving by hand.