TIE IT OFF & COUNT AGAIN
Curated by Rowan Lynch
Cover image source: Harun Farocki, As You See, 16mm, Berlin-West: Basis, 1986.
This publication began as a resource accompanying the exhibition Tie It Off & Count Again, hosted by the Hamilton Audio Visual Node (HAVN), in Hamilton, Ontario, from April 2nd to 7th, 2018. The exhibition represented textile work by women and non-binary artists including: Vida Beyer Cat Bluemke Sophia Borowska Adrienne Hall Jiachen Liu Maddie McNeely Soledad Fatima Muñoz Maria Jose Murillo and was organized as part of my thesis project towards the completion of a BFA in Criticism and Curatorial Studies at OCAD University. During the exhibition’s call for submissions process there were strong contributions that could not be involved, and I began to ask artists whether they would be open to being included in a publication. There are artists represented here who were not in the exhibition, and artists in the exhibition who you will not find here. Arriving as they have from the same investigation the iterations share many things, including a name. While exhibitions are stuck in time and place, pages circumvent these limitations. There are unique benefits to each: an exhibition as an experience, a publication as a net. Regarding context: as a white, female, settler, I am grateful to live and produce this work on land that for thousands of years has been the home of the Huron-Wendat and Petun First Nations, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River.
Special thanks to • all involved • Francisco & Jen • my classmates • Soledad, for your warmth & willingess • Lamont, for being a Capricorn/Aquarius cusp reminding me to chill out • Sameen, for being a Taurus/Gemini cusp willing to talk things out • Ailie, star archaeologist • Philip & Syd, for (always) hearing out process • Taimaz, for conversation • Misu, for advice • Thank you Mom • Thank you Dad • Thank you HAVN • Thank you Swimmers Group Rowan Lynch Curator & Editor 4 April 2018
Exhibition Essay Tie It Off & Count Again by Rowan Lynch + Screenshots from As You See (1986) Harun Farocki
Works by Elizabeth Johnson
An Interview with Soledad Fatima Muñoz
Essays & Works from Data Excess by Sophia Borowska
Irl/Escape from ‘The Meat’: The Virtual and the Body
Poverty is Not a Lack: the Matter of the Poor Image
20-21, 24-25 Weaving as Subversion: Final Notes on the Digital Material Overlap
Sketchbook Pages by Maria Jose Murillo
18-19, 22-23 26-27 Screenshots from As You See (1986) Harun Farocki
Four Punch-Cards for a Textile Poetics by Benjamin de Boer
Microsoft Word Carpets by Shaheer Zazai
Works by Elizabeth Johnson
36-37 Vida Beyer
A Brief History of Memory: Gossip and Core Rope by Lucy Pauker & Gabriel Soligo
Contributors Credit + Banners by Ronnie Clarke
TIE IT OFF AND COUNT AGAIN Exhibition Essay Weaving is one of the oldest technologies, but this statement fails to describe the intimacy that exists between these terms. A thread running parallel to human life can be glimpsed sedimented within the linguistic biography of the word technology itself. Here is a simplified tour, working away from our moment in time; a relative predating the English term technology can be found in the German technik (tools and processes in the practical arts and engineering), coming from the Greek tekhno (a method of making or doing encompassing notions of art, skill, and craft), owing its construction to the Proto-Indo-European root teks. Among numerous other offspring, teks forms all or part of the words text, context, technology, textile, toil, and subtle. In a satisfying re-absorption of conceptually branches, teks means to weave. In this space where they have not yet deviated, framing weaving as a technology becomes redundant. In returning, categorical arrangement is loosened. For thousands of years this thread has been guided by the human hand, but textiles are not only one of the earliest technologies, they are also the first to be nearly entirely taken over by machines. Contemporary textiles owe their actualization to a range of processes, from a globalized late-stage capitalist mass production to individual, time-laden, handmade work. Alongside a quietly ubiquitous presence, these broad contexts allow textiles near endless associations within interwoven personal, social, and political realms.1 As stated by Anni Albers, a figure in the German Bauhaus school and perhaps the best known textile artist of the 20th century, “Starting from a defined and specialized field, one can arrive at a realization of ever-extending relationships. Thus tangential subjects come into view. The thoughts, however, can, I believe, be traced back to the event of a thread.”2 My thinking in exploring these subjects is in debt to Diana Wood Conroy’s essay An Archeology of Tapestry, in which she presents a framework for addressing contemporary textiles loaned from
archaeology, anthropology, and feminist criticism. There are similarities between the disciplines that make this not only possible, but fertile. In their shared preoccupation with material culture, archaeology and art have each developed methods of looking at textiles. Given that art is no longer necessarily material, their shared concern can be expressed as that of a unique, referenced subject. In both archaeology and art, this subject is a ground on which one forms an argument, idea, or excursion. From here, the primary task of the archeologist is building context. In order to do this, material properties are viewed as inherently central to the meaning an object can possess. In a textile, meaning is similarly dependent on material. Woven imagery is embedded; there is no image without structure, and no structure without information. The archaeological study of material culture challenges the assumptions perpetuated by disciplinary divisions that uphold the distinction of the material, passive object and immaterial, active subject. The earliest evidence of weaving winds through history as negative space; archaeologists are more likely to find patterns from impressed woven structures in clay than the remainder of a textile itself. This reflects a greater invisibility accorded to the medium. In daily life, the experience of textiles is something continuously taken for granted, and within the study of art, this invisibility manifests in a lack of representation, theory, and regard. Textiles sit uneasily within the arts, sprawling through categories of art, design, and craft. Considered in
opposition to “high” art forms and media, their alterity provides a reflection of the mechanisms of inclusions and exclusion present within artistic contexts. Western 20th Century artistic theory, historically constructed to serve works created by a white, male, subject, often fails textiles entirely. These discussions of the conceptual in opposition to the body, and the focus on forms such as painting and sculpture, are largely irrelevent in respect to textiles’ linked haptic and optic considerations. This resistance to consolidation becomes coupled with an exclusion that arrives alongside its marked relationship to both femininity and labour. Conroy relates this state of marginality to archaeology, saying “tapestry is perceived to be a marginal art form, produced mainly by women, and archeology (…) is often concerned with marginal and peripheral conditions.”3 Archaeology’s concern with context and object biography is also of use in addressing the ways that “as people and objects gather time, movement and change, they are constantly transformed, and these transformations of person and object are tied up with each other.”4 The 1986 film As You See by German filmmaker Harun Farocki comments on this feedback between humanity and their inventions. On first viewing, the essay recounted by the narrator made an impression on me that I have continued to return to. As static images appear and disappear in the frame, in one instance the subtitles read, “it is worth noting that the computer evolved from the weaving trade at the moment that a picture was to be
woven.”5 I was attracted by the implications, and understand them as follows: it is thanks to a desire to gaze upon imagery, or perhaps fundamentally, an interest in the aesthetic, that the calculating machine exists; the assertion of the existence of an alternative, feminine foundation to our relationships with contemporary technologies; and the acknowledgment of the patterns within weaving, tying, and manipulating fiber as information ordering systems. The order underlying the structure of this work is recognized in the ancient Greek term daidalon (translatable as both “cunningly crafted” and “curiously wrought”), that implicates craft as a semi-divine appearing of a universal paradeigma of order. In The Odyssey, the term is applied most frequently to textiles.6 As stated by author Indra McEwan, “it is the woven cloth, or perhaps it’s very weaving, that makes Earth, with all its variegated, scintillating patterns, appear.”7 This statement is mythic, but the weaving of cloth has undeniably led to developments that inform the Earth as we know it. The Jacquard looms role, both as the first industrialized technology of the industrial revolution, and as a foundational model for the transmission of information in binary terms, offer textiles as a medium uniquely suited to explore assumptions about contemporary spaces of interaction. Tie It Off & Count Again presents artists and writers creating and engaging with textiles that in their appearing, make these contemporary immaterial, virtal, and personal realms tangible.
Rowan Lynch March 2018 FOOTNOTES 1. T’ai Smith, Bauhaus Weaving Theory from Feminine Craft to Mode of Design, University of Minnesota Press; Minneapolis, 2014, XXIX. 2. Anni Albers, On Weaving (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1965), 15. 3. Diana Wood Conroy, An Archeology of Tapestry, YYZ Books, 56. 4. Chris Gosden and Yvonne Marshall, The Cultural Biography of Objects, World Archeology 31, no.2 (1990), 169.
5. Harun Farocki, As You See, 16mm, directed by Harun Farocki (1986; Berlin-West: Basis), film. 6. Indra Kagis McEwan, Daedalus and the Discovery of Order, In Socrates’ Ancestor: an essay on architectural beginnings, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993, 53. 7. McEwan, 54.
Notebook Doodles, cotton Jacquard weaving, 2015.
After BeyoncĂŠ, wool on plastic canvas, 2014-2016.
IN MY ART PRACTICE
I capture the physical presence and relationship between senses of touch and the failure of human communication, tracing gestures on digital equipment as the source of my image making. Repeatedly reading family dialogue and my own writing helps me review suppressed emotions in the text. Through the medium of weaving I attempt to capture the strong emotions we lose through digital communication. There are interesting connections between communication through typing or sliding and the materials as a code and unique language that builds abstraction through weaving.
Finger Print Digital Draft
HOW MUCH DO WE ACTUALLY ABSORB FROM THE ORIGINAL? HOW MUCH INFORMATION DISAPPEARS THROUGH TRANSFORMATION? DO YOU FEEL THAT DIGITAL TECHNIQUES CAN CARRY COMPLETE INFORMATION FOR HUMAN COMMUNICATION? DO DIGITAL TECHNIQUES OFFER A MORE CONVENIENT WAY OF COMMUNICATING? HOW MANY EMOTIONS DO YOU PUT IN THE SENTENCE YOU SEND OUT THROUGH YOUR FINGERS IN A FAST DIGITAL WAY? HAVE YOU EVER TYPED SOMETHING THEN DELETED IT AND RE-TYPED IT TRYING TO SEND A MOST APPROPRIATE SENTENCE? HOW MUCH DO WE LOSE BY SENDING FRAGMENTS OF INFORMATION? 10
the lights in the fire/ the water in the sea Jacquard weaving with hand dyed bamboo, linen, wool yarn, 68” x 42”, 2017.
THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO
the Chinese used the imprint of a finger as a way of signing. The fingerprint carries personal information. It’s a physical identity that can unlock a phone and display drawing or writing on the screen. Tracing the gestures that our fingers apply on the smartphone or computer is a way to document human communication. The mark making not only follows the “rules” of the keyboard and touching sense screen, but also there are intermingled emotions, the second I press my finger on the surface.
Untitled, digital drawing, Jacquard weaving with wool, 42” x 28”, 2017.
The following conversation took place February 18th, 2018, on a snowy day in Chicago, Illinoise, between Rowan Lynch and Soledad Fatima Munoz.
When people ask you what you do, what do you say? SOLEDAD MUNOZ What do I say I am… when I get asked about my practice I mostly say that I am an artist who works in the spaces between the woven structure and sound and cultural production, but I feel like everything I do ties into weaving. So saying that I’m a weaver would also fit, without having to say the rest. RL It defines everything. SM Yeah, cuz I weave when I’m making sound, I weave in my social practice, it’s just weaving people together, and then I weave as my primary practice. I love weaving. RL What is your social practice? Is that related to the music and the symposia? SM Mhm, absolutely. I started making music before I started weaving. I went to piano classes when I was five or six years old, and then played in bands all through high school, then in university discovered synthesizers and got more into electronic music. So my embodied experience of the world is as a musician, and all the blind spots inside of that practice is what made me want to change it, so that women and non-binary people after me wouldn’t have to fight the same fights I had to. When going into shows, and being the only woman there, or being the woman opening, even though I had more experience than other guys there. Or working AV jobs and being sent to open headsets instead of running cable even though I did know how to do it, more than the guy who started the same day as me. My experience is as a musician because that’s all I knew and specifically in electronic music there weren’t doors open for me, and I didn’t want that to happen to other women or non binary people. RL Can you talk about your label a bit? SM Genero started… it didn’t start as a label. It started as a project where wom ROWAN LYNCH
en and non binary folks would come together and play and we would have performances and things like that, and I started realizing that in order for the music to be distributed away from our positions we had to start a label. We had to start putting out albums, and the men, the usually white men in my community were putting out albums and getting big and none of them were by women. In my practice, because I like the embodied experience of sound to be a community driven thing, I’m more of a here-now kind of practice, but the women around me might not be. RL Oh I see, you are more interested in the performance itself in that moment, but making the label and distributing your own work was a necessity because no one else was going to do it. SM Yeah exactly, and it wasn’t necessarily about my work, I’ve never put out anything of mine. It was other people in my community that had albums and wanted to be able to put them out. RL A platform. SM Exactly. So I created Genero, and it was needed so it became a label. It continues to exist as a sound project where we perform as a team, and it rotates - the women or non-binary folks that are in it. RL That all sounds really organic, I remember you saying you find people to involve by meeting them, generally. What is the word itself? SM I used to always get genre and gender confused when I was writing papers and I had no idea why, and then I was like oh, both of them are the same word in Spanish, in Chilean Spanish. So it means genre, gender, to generate, and textile. I’d be like it means textile! And my Mexican friends would be like … no. Well I guess only in Chile, it means textile. RL What a perfect word. SM I know! I was pretty shocked when it happened, like wow, yes. Even the logo
is a woven structure, because again, my social practice is just weaving. A thread by itself cannot sustain its own weight. So it’s an interlacing of all these threads that make a textile, or a social textile, all that we are. RL You mentioned you were doing music before you were weaving, and using synthesizers in university. Were you weaving by the time you were in university? SM I started weaving when I went to into the textile art program at Capilano, and that was after I went to film school. And I have no idea why I was interested in that program. I was working at a camera shop, and someone came in with their portfolio and I was like, what is this. RL It was a weaving portfolio? SM It was a fibre portfolio. A textile art portfolio, and I was like, what is this program. I was already taking courses at Emily Carr and I wasn’t finding myself with people, or in the institution at all. I was coming from a very different place in Chile and just not finding community, or anything. And this woman came in, and had this portfolio and I was like, what is this? And she was like, this is textile art. And I was like, what is that? And she was like well it’s from curtains, to your clothes, to everything that has to do with fibres and textiles, and I was like, that’s incredible. And then I called Capilano, and they were like yes we are holding interviews but the last day is tomorrow or something, to get a portfolio in. So I scrambled and got in, within two weeks I was enrolled in the program and I was just like yeah next year I’m starting textiles arts, having no clue what was up. RL Did it surprise you how much you loved it once you got in? Yeah. It really … as soon as I sat at a loom it was like I had done it before. It was like - oh this is what I do. And my dad was like well of course, when the people who came from Syria, like my grandfather and great-grandfather who came from Syria – SM
On your dad’s side? SM Yeah on my dad’s side, they were textile producers. And they would sell them, in Chile, they would go to the outskirts and sell them, and I was like – great! If you had told me this way earlier I could have found my practice. Yeah, and then my grandma my mom’s side, she was a single mom very early and so she worked at a hospital and during the nights she would crochet clothes and things for extra money. I’ve never seen dresses like the ones she used to make. So it was definitely something in my hands before I even knew it. RL
In Chilean Spanish (...) it means genre, gender, to generate, and textile. What is your family background on your mom’s side? SM They’re Chileans, Mestizo. European and first nations from Chile. RL The link between Syria and Chile and your family is really fascinating in the context of this, they’re both places that have such an emphatic relationship to textiles. SM Absolutely, I didn’t realize that until I started … I didn’t even know what textiles were. I mean, I knew what they were… RL I suppose it’s a really classic thing for the experience of them to be taken for granted in day to day life. SM Yeah, I was like, this is a loom? What is this? And then I started weaving and was like ok, this is me. RL We talked before about how strict identity categories don’t really serve you as a person with this background, now living in Canada and living in Chile, and Vancouver, and now Chicago and everything. Does it feel as though there is a relationship between that and your artis RL
tic practice? In the way it seems to exist between a lot of disciplinary lines. SM Yeah absolutely, and I feel fixed identity lines are just perpetrating hegemonies. For me it’s very important to show that in one subjectivity or one person there are all these layers of ever changing personalities, that we are mutable being. I am as multi-layered as anyone. It definitely reflects on it. And also I just get bored. RL Yeah, I’m not a weaver but I’ve heard people talk about the kind of state you can get into when you’re weaving by hand where it is engaging in a very specific way. Do you get into a flow state? SM Yeah! Although I feel that as much as it is very meditative, and you get lost and all that stuff, like sometimes it’s very productive where I’ll solve things from other pieces in this state, which I do in my dreams as well. I’m very good at tapping into those states of awareness. RL To unpack yourself through the side. SM Exactly but also sometimes… I remember when I was weaving at the contemporary textile centre in Montréal it was a piece that took me ten twelvehour days, and I had to finish it. I was a machine, just weavingweavingweavingweaving, and then I finished the whole thing. And days later I remembered what I was thinking, because you really don’t immediately remember what you were thinking, and I was thinking of a stand-up comedy routine that I would do. I don’t even remember what, but I was entertaining myself in my head so sometimes it’s very productive and esoteric… RL And sometimes you create your own skit! SM Yeah exactly so there’s like, nothing. RL That’s a form of productivity too. [laughs] SM Yeah. [laughs]
The fact that it creates this state of being actually sounds like it relates to music too. SM Oh yeah. RL
Are there obvious links to you between those two practices, between the music and the literal weaving? SM Now even more, with this series of weavings. In the copper wire weavings straight up both of them came together. In my other music I play modular synthesizers, I’m into patches in granular syntheses, or live patches in granular syntheses, or live patches of the same synthesizer and stuff like that. In my undergrad I made this cone that would pick up vibrations from the train, and places like that in Vancouver. We went to Richmond, where the airport is, and I was also really interested – RL In found sound? SM Yeah but we amplified it, I was collaborating with my friend Stefan Sollenius, he’s an incredible metal worker, and so we made this big cone that would have a controller so we could literally play a synthesizer out of vibrations from the environment. We were really interested in different rhythms that did not come from an electronic source. And also having a material conversation with sound. It’s like my material conversation through materials is through weaving and then with sound it’s with these soundscapes of drones, and listening to things materially. In these weavings those two investigations came together. Also the political part of my practice also came together because they are weavings of the disappeared because my parents, well my family, they had to RL
leave Chile because they were persecuted in the times of Pinochet’s dictatorship. So I weave the faces of the disappeared in copper wire, which was the first nationalized natural resource from Chile, and that’s what all these people were fighting for - they didn’t want neoliberalism to be installed and for their natural resources to be taken by the one percent, which is what happened. And then sound wise, it picks up the electromagnetic fields of our surroundings which relates to me being a daughter of exile, not really feeling like I have a ground, and then it being a drone… RL It engages with the social practice, the political practice, the musical practice, the weaving practice, immaterial space… SM It all just came together. It wasn’t like Eureka! It was like oh – I’m doing this, the first one was a giant twelve feet by twelve feet copper wire cross, it was just a giant antenna that was just on top of the old gallery. RL Which gallery? SM It was my grad piece. And then I was doing copper wire dresses, which when you moved with them would pick up… but those never came together which was really strange. I was like this over there this over there but then I crossed them. And here, one of my advisors was like why are the disappeared being woven over there in cotton and I was like duh! It all makes sense. It was roundabout. SM Yeah. RL It’s great to have someone outside who can look in – RL
Exactly, and be like why are you doing this? RL Which pieces do you consider to be part of the same weaving series? SM
The sound weavings are all part of the same family ... and then it’s really nice when I can play the sound weavings with my friends in Genero, and that’s what happened with FUSE, at the Vancouver Art Gallery. RL The summit? SM Oh no not the symposium, the Vancouver Art Gallery does a night of performances. We were asked to do something with Genero, so what we usually do is we all start jamming together at the beginning, and that’s something that you don’t see regularly in electronic music, it’s very much about the ego. It’s usually one or two people you know what I mean, and – RL There’s no boundary between the people in the sound you’re creating – SM Yeah and just with drum machines it’s hard to like… get them to jam. Sometimes they don’t lend themselves to like… let’s jam! SM
And that also requires a foundation, that can’t happen without the social aspect. SM Exactly and the people that played in that specific occasion, I had released Yu Su’s album. RL I listened to that one! SM She’s incredible. I mastered that one too so I know her sounds, I know what she does very well, and then Minimal Violence, I put out their first album, and we’ve been working together for so long and Ashley and I curate together CURRENT, which is the symposia. CURRENT is A Pacific Northwest Feminist Electronic Arts Symposium and it has had two iterations now and it’s just a weekend, or more. RL
that were very easy to then become commodified. RL They were visually seductive enough. SM Exactly, so then I was like well if I use this yummy-ness, and then load them with political, political in quotations, well …just working with what happened. This beauty… RL To disrupt it, to disrupt perception of it – SM Yeah like ooo! But then oh... Once they become commodified I feel it’s harder for me to create that reaction, so these ones work for this sort of message. Now I am working more in …so in the time of the dictatorship in Chile, everything was so censored that women would communicate what was happening to them through these textiles called Arpilleras, so I am working a lot with what people in that time would have been working with, to try and communicate things that I think are still worth communicating nowadays. Even though we are not under dictatorship the same people that put that dictatorship in Chile are still in power today, especially in the United States. So I’m working with The University of Chicago, because The University of Chicago was where people from Chile since the 1950’s came to learn under Milton Friedman what, back then, was called extreme monetarism, what is now known as neoliberalism. The day that the coup happened, these students that were called the Chicago Boys had a book ready on how to install neoliberalism in Chile, so the coup was funded by the U.S, and it was for them to steal the natural resources… and so on and so forth. So just going back to what Chilean women would do in those times - its
Arpilleras, and then muralism is another big thing, so I am trying to incorporate that in the Arpilleras, and the other thing would be papel maché, so trying to work with those three affectivities, but in a new form of presenting them. But we will see what happens. RL So combining things. SM Of course haha, I hadn’t thought about it like that.
FUSE, copper wire and cotton weaving, 2017.
It’s yearly? SM Yes but we partnered this year with New Forms which is an ongoing festival in its 17th version, from Vancouver, so we do the symposium. With New Forms we got bigger names because of the connection, but the other one I think it was 65 people involved. RL That’s great. SM Just being able to tell my friends yeah I’m going to play into, and then I’ll bring it back into the environment … and they’re like sure great. That was really cool, and then everyone breaks and goes into their sets, and that’s important to me because in this time it’s important to know we are all part of a textile but also threads. We have our own practices but we are part of a community. It was a metaphor. [laughs] RL It works pretty well! SM Yeah! And to hear us jam, sometimes it goes well, and sometimes it doesn’t, and we’re here hanging and if it works out it work out. RL Are you interested in doing more copper weavings? SM I don’t know… right now no. I’m working on other things that I feel are more important. Also I felt… I’m at SAIC [School of the Art Institute of Chicago], and SAIC get credit by putting out artists, you know what I mean, and I felt I was being pushed to be a product in some way, and it scared me. RL I remember you saying they want people to define themselves very firmly so they can be seen to exemplify something about the school. SM Yeah they’re like she makes these weavings! And that’s the thing about copper wire, it’s so beautiful. That was something that was criticised in my undergrad. They’re so beautiful. I used to not make them as charged politically, they were just these beautiful objects RL
The Jacquard loom is arguably the ancestor of the modern computer, which functions on the same basic principles of binary (zero or one, hole or no hole) and backing (memory). From this proposition, I now wish to begin connecting the tactile and the “virtual” realm of the Internet. How virtual is this realm really? Digital excesses provide locations where the physical body is implicated in online experience. “Virtual reality (V.R.), cyberspace, and all aspects of digital machines are still said to promise […] a realm of the mind – seemingly abstract, cool, clean, and bloodless, idealistic, pure, perhaps part of the spirit, that can leave behind the messy, troublesome body and the ruined material world.” Despite spending more and more of our time in front of a screen, navigating the Internet, we still make distinctions between that experience and real life. Walking around, meeting people face to face, making physical art objects, we distinguish from clicking links, chatting online, and designing artworks on-screen. But are these activities not embodied? When scrolling through blogs, sitting back to stream a movie, ordering items online, or masturbating to porn, we are using our bodies and moving objects around the world. We are using our muscles in new ways, specific to the new types of media that we are required to use and enjoy using. Time spent on computers or smartphones takes its toll on our bodies with aches, pains, carpal tunnel or saucy titillation. Put differently, “[computational] processes do not directly come into contact with the human senses (we cannot always see, hear, touch, taste, or indeed smell an algorithmic procedure) and there is consequently a deficit in our cognitive and conceptual grasping of software objects and processes, as such. Yet despite the abstract nature of mathematical media, these processes are completely real and demand attention.” Some contemporary thinkers have analyzed how discourse has disembodied the digital experience. In the wonderfully titled The Spam Book: On Viruses, Porn, and Other Anomalies
from the Dark Side of Digital Culture, editors Jussi Parikka and Tony D. Sampson examine the slippages between digital and physical through the former’s more distasteful products. On a similar mission, Hito Steyerl asserts that “[d]ata, sounds and images are now routinely transitioning beyond screens into a different state of matter. They surpass the boundaries of data channels and manifest mate rially. They incarnate as riots or products, as lens
flares, high-rises or pixelated tanks. Images become unplugged and unhinged and start crowding off-screen space.” This is an interesting new turn away from Anni Albers’ concern that “we are apt today to overcharge our gray matter with words and pictures, that is with material already transposed into a certain key, preformulated material.” To Albers, thinking only in terms of the mind, words and pictures could lead to forgetting our sensual, material impulses. This seems to be what’s happened to online experience as well. The digital has always been physical, and it is the tendency to deny this, to create a dichotomy between body and mind, that creates a lack in our understanding of digital culture. What starts out online can have enormous material impact on our lives and the structures of power in our societies. “All new dia, as Marshall McLuhan pointed out in the
Contemporary Crowd, double-sided Jacquard Weaving; 6-colour mercerized cotton warp, cotton weft, 18” x 29”, 2016.
IRL/ESCAPE FROM ‘THE MEAT’: THE VIRTUAL AND THE BODY
media, as Marshall McLuhan pointed out in the 1960s, have an extraordinary ability to rewire the people who are using them and the cultures in which they circulate.” Expanding on this wellknown theory in a more contemporary context, media scholar Finn Brunton says: “technologies are never merely passive vessels for holding ideas and ideologies but active things in the world that open new possibilities and capacities. They change the communities that created them and those that take them up. […] More important, however, is that the values embedded in the technology, intentionally or unintentionally, become dominant. Those values reflect an arrangement of power, control, and prestige that the design constituency would like to see in the world, whether centralized and privatized, open and egalitarian, or otherwise.” Creating a theoretical disconnect between our bodies and what we do online is part of a larger problem in Western thought, one which actually takes us back to weaving: “The zeros and ones of machine code seem to offer themselves as perfect symbols of the orders of Western reality, the ancient logical codes which make the difference between on and off, right and left, light and dark, form and matter, mind and body, white and black, good and evil, right and wrong, life and death, something and nothing, this and that, here and there, inside and outside, active and passive, true and false, yes and no, sanity and madness, health and sickness, West and East, North and South. And they make a lovely couple when it came to sex. Man and woman, male and female, masculine and feminine: one and zero looked just right, made for each other: 1, the definite, upright line; and 0, the diagram of nothing at all: penis and vagina, thing and hole… […] It takes two to make a binary, but all these pairs are two of a kind, and the kind is always a kind of one.”
a turning point the moment the first spam message was sent out on ARPAnet in 1978. Rigidly controlled newsletter chains were hijacked for a commercial purpose, destabilizing the contained system of trust that was the first Internet. To Plant, such a turning point is achieved through a connection at the fingertips to “all the zeros and ones of machine code, the switches of electric circuitry, fluctuating waves of neurochemical activity, hormonal energy, thoughts, desires…” The body’s urges become intertwined with keystrokes, networks, and eventually wind up as data. Dougal Phillips posits that, as online sharing platforms (and, I would add, social media platforms in general), “develop their own logic of energy and social exchange, we glimpse the very powerful economy of ‘libidinal’ energy.” Humans crave tactile experience, and though we might try “to escape from ‘the meat’” into Cyberspace, our Internet use all too often comes back to the embarrassing or distasteful, albeit primary, demands of the body.
POPULAR IMAGES - IMAGES THAT CAN BE MADE AND SEEN BY THE MANY - EXPRESS ALL THE CONTRADICTIONS OF THE CONTEMPORARY CROWD: ITS OPPORTUNISM, NARCISSISM, DESIRE FOR AUTONOMY AND CREATION, ITS INABILITY TO FOCUS OR MAKE UP ITS MIND, ITS CONSTANT READINESS FOR TRANSGRESSION AND SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSION. A SNAPSHOT OF THE AFFECTIVE CONDITION OF THE CROWD, ITS NEUROSES, PARANOIA, AND FEAR, ITS CRAVING FOR INTENSITY, FUN, AND DISTRACTION, THE IMAGES SPEAK OF THE COUNTLESS PEOPLE WHO CARED ENOUGH ABOUT THEM TO CONVERT THEM OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
The “overwhelming, bedazzling” spread of computer-usage and the Internet, though it shook up so much so fast, also served to reinforce imperialist, class-based, and gendered hierarchies of control. Yet the Internet is such an unstable platform that it offers unprecedented means to subvert these structures. “There is always a point at which technologies geared towards regulation, containment, command, and control, can turn out to be feeding into the collapse of everything they once supported.” Email experienced such
MARIA JOSE MURILLO
MARIA JOSE MURILLO
As I am starting to explore and study the patterns in ancient Peruvians textiles, my intention is to bring back that Andean and ancestral origin and let it interact and dialogue in an equal and horizontal way with Western culture, which I am also influenced by and it is part of my identity as well.
POVERTY IS NOT A LACK: THE MATTER OF THE POOR IMAGE I had the opportunity to participate in a specialized Jacquard weaving workshop at Concordia University, organized by Associate Professor Kelly Thompson and taught by artist and author Louise Lemieux-Bérubé. The workshop introduced advanced ways of working with a multicoloured tapestry warp, composed of an ordered rotation of black, red, green, blue, yellow, and white threads. These we learned to combine, in a pointillist fashion, to create the illusion of colour-mixing, and endless shades and textures of colour. Tapestry warps are the most efficient way to weave multicoloured imagery or patterns, and our group of weavers each explored its capacities with varied practical and conceptual interests. My struggle with Jacquard weaving is that it has to start with an image file. I tend to think in terms of strategies to produce unpredicted visual effects more so than in terms of representation, visual expression, or graphic design. But the workshop was underway and I needed some content to get going with. Luckily, I came across Hito Steyerl’s essay, “In Defense of the Poor Image” and saw the immediate potential of translating her ideas through weaving. Steyerl’s essay opens, “The poor image is a copy in motion. Its quality is bad, its resolution substandard. As it accelerates, it deteriorates. It is a ghost of an image, a preview, a thumbnail, an errant idea, an itinerant image distributed for free, squeezed through slow digital connections, compressed, reproduced, ripped, remixed, as well as copied and pasted into other channels of distribution.” It’s captivating – I’ll have to refrain from quoting the entire essay and just suggest that you read it at http://www.e-flux.com/journal/in-defense-of-thepoor-image/. She examines the phenomenon of the “poor” or “low-resolution” images that proliferate online, in terms of what their lack of “quality” tells us about the circulation, control, and appropriation of information in the Internet age. We come across poor images in Google image or YouTube video searches all the time. I need a good picture for my Bauhaus Weaving PowerPoint and the only one I can find is like 10 pixels wide… I want to stream Janet Jackson’s Superbowl scandal and the video is so glitchy that I can’t even see the offending nip. Ughhhh! But Steyerl suggests that, in the poor image, “poverty is not a lack, but an additional layer of information, which is not about content but form. This form shows how the image is treated, how it is seen, passed on, ignored, censored, and obliterated.” That image is low-resolution because it’s been through a lot. Its condition “speaks not only of countless transfers and re-formattings, but also of the countless people who cared enough about [it] to convert [it] over and over again, to add subtitles, reedit
or upload [it].” There is certainly an astounding amount of image and video content online whose quality is so poor as to make one question its use, its uploader’s intentions, and its value to society. To Steyerl, the condition of these images, especially of poor copies “of militant, experimental, and classical works of cinema [or] video art,” reveals a hierarchy of art and appearances deeply rooted in patriarchal, capitalist and nationalist agendas. “[H]igh-end economies of film production were (and still are) firmly anchored in systems of national culture, capitalist studio production, the cult of mostly male genius, and the original version, and thus are often conservative in their very structure. Resolution was fetishized as if its lack amounted to the castration of the author.” Super high resolution is becoming more accessible for the average photographer or video artist, but still remains the glossy medium of big money. “Obviously, a high-resolution image looks more brilliant and impressive, more mimetic and magic, more scary and seductive than a poor one,” but poor images can function to undermine and “creatively degrade” mainstream image production. For instance, the 2015 film Tangerine, the story of a transgender sex worker, was shot tirely on iPhone 5s due to budget constraints.
THE POOR IMAGE IS NO LONGER ABOUT THE REAL THING - THE ORIGINARY ORIGINAL. INSTEAD IT IS ABOUT ITS OWN REAL CONDITIONS OF EXISTENCE: ABOUT SWARM CIRCULATION, DIGITAL DISPERSION, FRACTURED AND FLEXIBLE TEMPORALITIES. IT IS ABOUT DEFIANCE AND APPROPRIATION JUST AS MUCH AS IT IS ABOUT CONFORMISM AND EXPLOITATION. IT IS ABOUT REALITY.
Flexible Temporalities, double-sided Jacquard Weaving; 6-colour mercerized cotton warp, cotton weft, 18” x 33”, 2016. Low-cost, accessible video cameras are used to tell a highly marginalized story. To Steyerl, the relegation of experimental content such as this to poor imagery “reveals the conditions of their marginalization, the constellation of social forces leading to their online circulation as poor images.” Poor images are often the result of piracy or less than-legal sharing. They defy “patrimony, national culture, or indeed copyright” and mock “the promises of digital technology.” But they are also the inevitable products of the world they emerge from and against, for “only digital technology could produce such a dilapidated image in the first place.” In seeking references to the material, the sensorial or physical in research surrounding digital culture, I was particularly intrigued by one of Steyerl’s passing comments: “Poor images are poor because they are heavily compressed, and travel quickly. They lose matter and gain speed.” The way we talk about compressing files has a decidedly tactile feeling about it. She describes a process of dematerialization, as if a high resolution image has more “matter,” which then gets compressed, fuzzed out, deleted, and shrunk to move faster through digital connections. On the other hand, Pit Schultz speaks about the digital realm “imitating analogue dirtiness,” which results in “a higher resolution,
MARIA JOSE MURILLO
MARIA JOSE MURILLO
POVERTY IS NOT A LACK: CONT. a recursive, deeper, infinite structure.” This means that the reproduction of a “poor” analogue image, grainy film, or the distorted sound of vinyl records could actually make a higher resolution digital file. Jacquard weaving fits perfectly into this back and forth between analogue and digital, messy and clean, slow and speedy. Also reminiscent of the weaving process are the systems through which poor images travel – web searches, social media, P2P platforms, and (over-)sharing sites like YouTube. “The sampled sounds, processed words, and digitized images of multimedia reconnect all the arts with the tactility of woven fabrications.” To Plant, these new ways of viewing, experiencing, and sharing art or other content are more “interconnected and entwined”than ever before, producing a kind of materiality.  With all these connections between the poor image and the woven image ruminating, I began selecting the images for my weavings. Trawling through YouTube, I was looking for the lowest quality videos on weaving, computers, information and data storage, and the like. The first screenshot I started working with had actually been collected
before, while looking up how industrial Jacquard looms work. It was a terrible video, ripped from one of those “How It’s Made”-type TV shows, and every close up turned into a moving pixelated mass. I had been frustrated that this was all I could find, and that I couldn’t steal a sharp, clear image to work with. But now, the poor image started to appeal to me as a composition, for its colours (perfect for the tapestry warp!), and its history – how many processes and people it went through before it got into my hands. In the weaving, I wanted to translate not only the image itself, but also its unknown history and its significance in a body of poor images as elaborated by Steyerl. To do so, I decided to use both sides of the piece to showcase different content. We don’t have access to what the backside of an image file looks like (except perhaps its code) but we do have access to both sides of a weaving. This has always been one of my favourite things about the medium. When weavers get together to look at a piece, we always turn it over and begin marveling at the reverse-side, which is often where the process is written most clearly. To create two unique sides of my cloth, I developed my own way of working with double-weave. Double-weave is a technique where two layers of fabric are woven at once, one on top of the other. These layers, in the words of Anni Albers, “can be locked at both sides, at one side, or, within the fabric, at any number of places where the design asks for an exchange of top and bottom layers, usually of different colors.” Depending on how you work with the double-weave, the backside of the cloth is usually the perfect opposite of the front face. On the tapestry warp, the threads are warped at a much denser resolution of 90 threads per inch. Six threads (one of each colour) are needed for every pixel in the image. So, for an image with one red pixel next to one blue pixel, you need to tell twelve threads what to do (see fig. 15). First pixel: red thread on top and hide all the others underneath, and then second pixel: blue on top and hide all the others. This means that the 1728 threads are actually acting in groups of six, leaving only 288 pixels of image to work with. Once scaled down, the image must be reduced to a limited number of colours, similar to “posterizing” or creating a paint-by-numbers. Each colour is assigned a weave structure, and this is where the real material exploration takes place. It is an attempt to predict what the weave structure will look like once woven, and to try different combinations of colours. Once the structures have been worked out, the file is taken to the loom, woven by hand, and the results can be compared to the source image. In addition to colour, textural varia-
I decided to work with two wefts for a classic double-weave, though more can be used as well. Using two contrasting wefts allowed me to mix a range of colours – for instance if using a black and white weft, I would use the white to mix a light blue, and the black to mix a dark blue. For each colour area I had to decide which weft would be used, and then tell every warp thread what to do with it. The unused weft and warp threads are woven separately in the bottom layer of the weaving. This can be observed neatly on the back (for instance, see here). When the text changes colour it means that a different weft was needed on the face. Each weaving also has one colour where both wefts are on top, breaking the double-weave. In these structures, there is no weft available to weave the text on the back, so the text gets obscured and glitched. Steyerl’s words come in and out of legibility, playing with the idea that poor images are often readable is some areas but not in others. The shape of the image on the face of the cloth grabs whichever weft colour it needs, and the text hangs on to what is available. I wanted to avoid being too didactic with my appropriated snippets, and offer only enough information to be intriguing or frustrating. The resultant weavings resemble their source image but become something different altogether. All the changes these images went through to make it to material form produced a kind of collaboration between my designing hand and the computer’s automated processes. “On the computer monitor, any change to the programming brings another image to the screen. This is the continuity of product and process at work in the textiles produced on the loom. The program, the image, the process, and the product: these are all the software of the loom. Digital fabrication can be endlessly copied without fading into inferiority; patterns can be pleated and repeat, replicated folds across a screen. Like all textiles, the new softwares have no essence, no authenticity. Just as weavings and their patterns are repeatable without detracting from the value of the first one made, digital images complicate the questions of origin and originality, authorship and authority with which Western conceptions of art have been preoccupied. And the textile arts ‘have always turned upside down any economy of the senses, rekindling polysensory memory.”
WEAVING AS SUBVERSION: FINAL NOTES ON THE DIGITAL MATERIAL OVERLAP The writers who inspired me over the course of this research all relate weaving or materiality with digital processes, whether through textile metaphors, by deciphering coded matter, or by revealing the body in online space. Deep connections and constant give and take seem to flow between weaving, program code, and the embodied use of computers. “Written out of an official history which draws them in as its minor footnotes to itself, clothes, weavers, and their skills turn out to be far in advance of the art forms digitization supersedes.” By insisting on materiality, be it in art, in spam, or in low-res videos, I want to reveal how it has been written out of a generic history that favours the intellectual and the optic above all else. I have looked specifically to theory written by weavers, because they are the most qualified and best equipped to explain how weaving bridges the intellectual and the visual. I’ve returned to this
Dubious Data Pools, double-side Jacquard Weaving; 6-colour mercerized cotton warp, cotton weft, 18” x 28”,2016. Ghost of an Image, double-sided Jacquard Weaving; 6-colour mercerized cotton warp, cotton weft, 18” x 31”, 2016.
ation was an important factor as I attempted to recreate a poor image’s sense of transparency, density, or static. Some of my favourite weave structures were the ones I developed in Contemporary Crowd to imitate a plaid shirt.
MARIA JOSE MURILLO
Since I started working with the non-slip rug pads, I intuitively began to explore them as textiles, since they started to acquire the appearance of something based on a woven structure. Another thing that interested me, in these first explorations, was to think about the passage of time as when we see ancient textiles made by an individual that have a distinctive â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;auraâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;
MARIA JOSE MURILLO
not only because of its handmade processes and its age, but also because of the function and importance that that piece of cloth represented for the maker. I would like to think about that as a contrast to the contemporary and soulless character of the industrial material I am working with.
WEAVING AS SUBVERSION: CONT. passage from On Weaving often: “Surface quality of material, […] being mainly a quality of appearance, is an aesthetic quality and therefore a medium of the artist; while quality of inner structure is, above all, a matter of function and therefore the concern of the scientist and the engineer. Sometimes material surface together with material structure are the main components of a work; in textile works, for instance, specifically in weavings or, on another scale in works of architecture. Parallel to this overlapping of outer and inner characteristics in a work is the overlapping of artistic, scientific, and technological interests on the part of the weaver or architect.” Otti Berger, textile patent developer and one of Anni Albers’s fellow Bauhaus weavers, “was aware that the tactile sense had a particularly problematic history in the discipline of art.” T’ai Smith describes how Berger’s 1920s essays showed that “a study of cloth requires a reflection on tactility,” and in doing so “queried the limits of the visual as modernism’s prized term of formal inquiry.” Prizing the visual cuts us off from a crucial “stimulus that may touch off our creative impulse, such as unformed material, material ‘in the rough’.” This business of existing only in the mind, seeking purified aesthetic experience unaffected by the whims of the bodily senses is still a powerful tradition in the study of art history and of communication studies. In The Truth in Painting, Jacques Derrida notes how Immanuel Kant’s work “distinguish[es] between material and formal judgments, the latter alone constituting judgments of taste in the proper sense.” Kant instigates an equation of sensory matter with the irrational, the illogical, and the perversion of adornment. The idea that sensory attraction, decoration, and excessive adornment could be perverse excites me. By working in weaving, a medium that dances between functional and decorative, autonomous and replicable, art and craft, physical and intellectual, I can subvert permeating Kantian/ Modernist ideals. Tapestries, in the Modern moment, functioned as parerga to the “major arts” of painting, sculpture, and architecture, revealing their fear of the body, of taking pleasure in tactility and excess. Today weaving can continue to unsettle by drawing parallels with new forms of parerga, the excesses of the Internet, “the trash that washes up on the digital economies’ shores.” “The parergon inscribes something which comes as an extra, exterior to the proper field […] but whose transcendent exteriority comes into play, abut onto, brush against, rub, press against the limit itself and intervene in the inside only to the extent that the inside is lacking. It is
lacking in something and it is lacking from itself.” There is an excitable, competitive and libidinal exchange of energy in the ways that spammers test limits of control to sell exaggerated sex, or that YouTubers pirate, re-edit, and re-appropriate content. At the basest level, this energy is like the weaving process. “There is an obsessive, addictive quality to the […] weaving of cloth; a temptation to get fixated and locked into processes which run away with themselves and those drawn into them.” Weaving can work through the concepts of digital refuse, and defend materiality, because it engages with excesses. It can’t quite be intellectualized; it must be palpably experienced.
1. Sadie Plant, Zeros + Ones: Digital Women and the New Techno-culture (London: Fourth Estate Ltd., 1997), 180. 2. Jussi Parikka and Tony D. Sampson, “Introduction,” in The Spam Book: On Viruses, Porn, and Other Anomalies from the Dark Side of Digital Culture (Cresskill: Hampton Press, Inc. 2009), 17. 3. Hito Steyerl, Too Much World: the Films of Hito Steyerl, (New York: Sternberg Press, 2014), 30. 4. Anni Albers, On Weaving (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1965), 62. 5. Plant, Zeros + Ones, 144. 6. Finn Brunton, Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2013), xvii. 7. Plant, Zeros + Ones, 34-35. 8. Steyerl, Too Much World, 30. 9. Plant, Zeros + Ones, 143. 10. Ibid., 144. 11. Dougal Phillips, “Can Desire Go On Without a Body? Pornographic Exchange as Orbital Anomaly,” in The Spam Book, 196. 12. Plant, Zeros + Ones, 180. 13. Hito Steyerl, The Wretched of the Screen, (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2012), 32. 14. Ibid., 156. 15. Ibid., 41.
16. Ibid., 38. 17. Ibid., 34. 18. Ibid., 33. 19. Ibid., 34. 20. Ibid., 38. 21. Ibid., 32. 22. Ibid. 23. Ibid., 41. 24. Pit Schultz, “The Origins of the Nettime Mailing List: In conversation with Pauline von Maurik Broekman” in Networks, 153. 25. Plant, Zeros + Ones, 185. 26. Ibid., 186. 27. Albers, On Weaving, 50. 28. Plant, Zeros + Ones, 189-90. 29. Plant, Zeros + Ones, 190. 30. Albers, On Weaving, 63. 31. T’ai Smith, Bauhaus Weaving Theory: From Feminine Craft to Mode of Design, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014), 84. 32. Ibid. 33. Albers, On Weaving, 63. 34. Derrida, The Truth in Painting, 67. 35. Steyerl, The Wretched of the Screen, 32. 36. Jacques Derrida, The Truth in Painting, trans. Geoff Bennington and Ian McLeod (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 56. 37. Plant, Zeros + Ones, 62.
Opposite: Harun Farocki, As You See, 16mm, Berlin-West: Basis, 1986.
BENJAMIN DE BOER
Four Punch-Cards for a Textile Poetics Condition In this moment, let us think in steps about weaving, coding, sensation, and information transference. I regret that I do not have much space to elaborate, yet I hope these loose threads I have grabbed will interlace, provoking in us an understanding of the concept of the textile as a poetic method of thinking and making. Card a Weaving is a technique of fabrication that works from a loom. This technique arranges longitudinal warp strands fixed in one direction extending out from the weaverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s body, and interlaces these strands with a latitudinal weft which shuttles in snaketime back and forth. Weaving is accomplished by arranging particular strands of the warp on either side of the weft. This method involves bringing to the surface the supplementary warp threads, and submerging the unused threads that will otherwise go unnoticed in the weaving of the fabric. Creating a particular abstract or figurative pattern requires elaborating upon an initial set of rules. Specific inputs (directing the warp threads up or down) produce corresponding outputs (the visible exterior surface). The edges of this exterior surface rest against the structural threads below. They are hidden yet necessary, their position is integral to the ongoing elaboration of information. Textile design is concerned with the modification of this information - after determining initial weave conditions, the design is carried out by establishing a revised stream of specifications. While soft and warm, its properties emerge from a hard coding of these computational instructions. This repetition of interlacing threads in a procedural fashion is an action that produces striated space. The codified surface might continue on for yards and yards but the width will always be determined by the width of the loom, the number of threads, and the particularities of the weaverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s elaborate conditions. Put simply, weaving is an analogue computing technique.1 Card b Weaving specific designs requires intense attention to the positioning of warp threads. The desire for an efficient, standardized system by which to ensure a level of rigorous exactitude in positioning produced the Jacquard loom. Created in the early 19th Century,
the Jacquard loom used a novel method of information transference in order to create more technically detailed textiles. First, a desired textile design is represented within a grid system, and this pixelated image is then translated into a series of punched-cards that are fed into the loom to physically alter the placement of warp threads. This ensures that at each moment the threads are in their proper place, and are thus forming the surface or the unnoticed substrate. A Jacquard loom feeding coded information into the looms hardware can be seen as the birth of software. This system of information transference served as the inspiration for the forerunners of the first computing machine. Similarly, the developers of IBMâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s punched-card computation, a technology allowing for the process of information storage and transfer, have expressed their debt to this originary device. In the realm of computer software, instead of proprietary device concerned with the arrangement of interlocking threads, we now witness the elaboration of data in the form of a binary system of 1s and 0s. This system of software likewise produces a surface and a hidden back end - a data set to be used perhaps in lower order coding or the manifold of the screen, and all of the architecture necessary to support this interactive surface. It is here where we may see a basin for a new poetics of textile art. From an outdated, romantic view of textiles as necessarily tied to the affective encounter of maternal care to viewing these works as the unique outputs of a complicated algorithmic process.2 Card g Textiles possess the unique quality of being more than just a representation of repetition and patterning. The textile is the pattern. Its materiality is a history in knots, a trace of the processes that gave rise to it. Hence these works are both folded between, and spread to cover, the semiotic category of useful fibre and the symbolic arena of fine art. Perhaps this type omnivorism reveals the danger of type-thinking in the first place. What of the thetic break we see in
BENJAMIN DE BOER
those uncanny knitlets featured on Regretsy, whose semiotics of craft become so mangled that they burst embarrassingly (or amazingly) into the symbolic of art?3 This potential for oscillation reveals for us a more accepting understanding of fabrication as possessing emergent qualities. While both tapestry and code follow the hylomorphic assembly logic of lock and key, their public life and sensational qualities appear rather morphogenetic. Despite being static meshworks, they still reveal a sweet liquid core. Fabrication in general can be viewed as a confluence of deliberate affordances and material tendencies. At the beginning, the textile is pluripotent. As the process unfolds, the maker can harness intensity and make possible new channels, passages, and combinations for expression. As the weaver weaves, their body and thread carries out the production of profusion into the future.4 Cascades coil into something with a certain mathematical exactitude. Card d To weave a textile poetics, we may look to the formations of surfaces: physical and social. Physical space is woven by the movement of the world’s geological order (tectonic shift, air pressure, wind, temperature). We should also embrace the hidden threads, the unexpected, most definitely the potential of the weft.5 Social space is similarly woven by the interlocking of the tasks, desires, convictions, and experiences of a vast array of human and non-human agents. We must pay close attention to these ravellings. The textile is a membrane and a window- its strands are allowed a certain amount of freedom to act as process forces, allowing their tendencies to configure a resultant structural state. The textile is the emergent built form produced by material information. It shows us the capacities of matter to operate as a generative drivers in the morphogenetic process involved in its own design. It lets us see matter as something far from inert - matter is pregnant with the various interplays, the conversations we develop with it.6 Speed and intensity generate the object before us, and paying attention to these processes can help us stay sensitive to the various aspects of the assemblages we form with other people. The finished product is the accomplished absorption and satiation of the potentials that surround it. This object does not transcend, it plunges back into the field of differential relations that gave rise to it, back into a recombinant dialogue with the weaver and the purveyors of textiles. This coupling of textiles and society are described by many in story.7 According to the Dogon people who live on the plateaus of Mali, the world was woven into existence. An immortal being
named Nummo pushed his mouth through an anthill opening and his lips twisted into the shape of a simple loom wrapped in threads. His forked tongue shuttled the weft to and fro. In this primordial space the word itself was woven into being, expressed in its own rich language of textility. Weaving and language are synonymous, but remember: the free play of signification exhausts structures in general. We are draped, wrapped, and swaddled in language, and we weave worlds with the magic of speech. We cast spellings, tangling together information for the sake of survival and thriving. Rather than in textual explanation, the weave is encoded and transferred to another in bodywork. The weavers’ sensorimotor articulations hooked to their apparatus display planetary knowledge. Such is the case with software’s data transference and the navigation of digital space. Code governs what we see, filtering, translating, and storing big data metrics. On the web, we don’t so much as surf as much as we chug forward in punctuated leaps and slides. Arranging and navigating so many diverse filaments fills our days and nights, yet avoids developing into anything complete, or whole. Threads from different systems loop and dive but never knot in total synthesis. Knowing this upholds our freedom to choose our answers and pose new questions. In the living textile, there is no finished product.
Footnotes 1. I have never used a loom myself, and had no idea how they worked at all until Madeleine LeBlanc taught me. Her expertise fostered in me a deep appreciation for this incredibly technical operation. 2. Kristeva, Black Sun Depression and Melancholia, Columbia University Press: New York, 1989. 3. Merci Fan, for sharing with me this particular branch of the Etsy universe. 4. Oof! 5. The weave unravels: Fatou Diome clashes against anti immigration and the hypocrisy of the EU. 6. Jill Magi’s March 31, 2017, workshop at NYU Abu Dhabi Institute on Bedouin-rooted Weaving and the Poetics of Place Making. 7. We all like sharing our own stories, I wish to learn more of theirs. The following is a story retold by Kathryn Kruger in her text Weaving the World: The Metaphorics of Weaving and Female Textual Production.
Carpet 4, Miscrosoft Word, 2017. Opposite: Carpet 5, Miscrosoft Word, 2017.
Carpet 2, Miscrosoft Word, 2017. Opposite: Carpet 6, Miscrosoft Word, 2017.
Notebook Doodles, cotton jacquard weaving, 2015.
Fluid, cotton Jacquard weaving, 34” x 26”, 2017.
After Mary Margaret Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Hara, wool on plastic canvas, 2014-2016.
LUCY PAUKER & GABRIEL SOLIGO
LUCY PAUKER & GABRIEL SOLIGO
LUCY PAUKER & GABRIEL SOLIGO
Vida Beyer is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice incorporates sculpture, drawing, writing, performance and set design. Her work has been exhibited at XPACE Cultural Center, The Khyber, as a part of Doored (a comedy art variety show hosted by Life of a Craphead 2012-2017) and The Rhubarb Theatre Festival. • vidabeyer.com, @cryingintoyourbutt Sophia Borowska is a Montréal-based artist and researcher working in fibres, sculpture, and installation. Her Jacquard weaving-research practice seeks conceptual links between weaving and digital culture. She holds a BFA, with great distinction, from Concordia University in Montréal, and a diploma in Textiles from Capilano University in BC, Canada. She is a member of the Textiles and Materiality Research Cluster under Milieux Institute at Concordia. Borowska has exhibited work in Canadian artist-run centres, galleries, festivals, and DIY spaces, and has presented research and been published in Canada and the United States. • http://data-excess.com, www.sophiaborowska.com Ronnie Clarke is an emerging Canadian artist based between Waterloo, London and Toronto, Ontario. Clarke’s work blends elements of choreography, dance, movement, collaboration, video and installation. She is interested in how language manifests, becomes translated and is mediated in the digital age. She explores the poetics of digital spaces; using movement she investigates how technology plays a role in our interactions with others. She earned her BFA at Western University in London, Ontario. • www.ronnieclarke.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Benjamin de Boer is from Tiny, Ontario. Hesitant to settle on one task, he writes, draws, sculpts, and excavates. His work and play shift commitment between investigating desire, ritual, migration, settlement, and place. He fills his head with the fantasy of a trickster ethics in an attempt to grasp at some kind of vitalic kinship. • email@example.com, @tenderentropy
Jiachen Liu (b. 1993, Wuhan, China). The fast development of China and Chinese cultural values have influenced her. Growing up, she learned calligraphy and computer typing; she wrote letters to her grandfather when he worked Shanghai and also used a smartphone to text on the other side of the earth. She is interested in the evidence of communication. She is currently based in Chicago and studying towards an MFA at the Art Institute of Chicago. • http://www.jiachenl.com Soledad Fatima Muñoz is an interdisciplinary artist born in Toronto, Canada and raised in Rancagua, Chile. Currently based in Chicago, her work seeks to explore the analogy between the ever-changing social spaces we inhabit, the inter-connectivity materialized in the woven structure and an embodied experience of sound. She holds a Diploma in Textile Arts from Capilano University, earned a BFA at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and is currently working towards completing her MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2014 she founded Genero, an audio project which focuses in the distribution and greater representation women and non-binary artists working in the sound realm, and is one of the head organizers of CURRENT “A Pacific Northwest Feminist Electronic Art Symposium”. • https://soledadmunoz.com, https://genero.bandcamp.com Maria Jose Murillo (b. 1989, Arequipa, Peru), studied painting at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. Murillo’s work uses synthetic materials such as plastic and its byproducts, which serve as strategic indicators of the artificial world in which we live. She has taken part in the ArtBo Feria Internacional de Arte de Bogotá, 2014 and the IX Subasta de Verano del Museo de Arte de Lima, 2015. • firstname.lastname@example.org, @m.j.murillo
Gabriel Soligo I make clothing, sculptures, and texts. I’ve steeped myself in Haliax’ artist culture and subscribe to a collaborative approach to art making. My work is informed by writers like Silvia Federici, Paulo Feire, and Octavia Butler. I’ve studied textiles in Canada and Norway, and have developed skills in textile production and natural dyeing. I currently sit on the board of Nocturne, an annual art at night festival in Halifax. • gabrielsoligo.art, @nscad Lucy Pauker I am a multi-disciplinary artist and curator based in Halifax and Toronto. My practice spans textiles, ceramics, poetry and video. Collaboration is important to my work, which is informed by the theorists, writers, activists and artists whose shoulders I stand on. These would include: Anne Carson, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Sara Ahmed and Yael Davids (to name a few). I currently sit on the board of Eyelevel Artist Run Centre. • https://pauker.hotglue.me/, @loishes, Shaheer Zazai I am a Toronto-based Afghan-Canadian artist. My current studio practice, both as a painter and a digital new media artist, exploring and attempting to investigate the social and cultural development throughout history, and how it can influence cultural identity. My digital work is an exploration into understanding the effects of displacement, hybridization and appropriation as a result of technological advances. The digital works revolves around Microsoft Word and imagery drawn from traditional Afghan carpets. Through mimicking carpet-making methods, I create my own designs in Microsoft Word, where every knot of a carpet is translated into a typed character. • email@example.com Curator & Editor
Rowan Lynch is a multidisciplinary artist, curator, and writer based in Toronto, Ontario. She is a graduate of OCAD University’s Criticism and Curatorial Studies (CRCP) program, and a mentor at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Youth Council. Her writing has been published by 8eleven Gallery (Toronto), and Xpace Cultural Center (Toronto). She is interested in people and light. • rowanlynch.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, @rowanly
Ronnie Clarke, handinhandinhandinhand & in every dimension you have the softest interface, dye sublimation on spandex, 2017.
Elizabeth Johnson is currently doing her MFA at Concordia University in fibres. Her work begins with an interest in virtual spaces, specifically the ideologies presented to us through screens while simultaneously exploiting our dependence and emotional responses we have to these technologies. In her current practice, she brings computer generated imagery into physical space through the process of Jacquard weaving. Using 3D rendering programs (Blender, Google Sketchup) to create digital environments and video work, she weaves screenshots into tangible pieces. • https://elizabethjohnson.hotglue.me/, epjohnson@nscad. ca