Today I am reading and reading and reading. Each text leads to a new text; each website leads to another website. I am deep in it, and this blog post is a reflection of the many different “threads” I am weaving together to fabricate a platform from which to extend my projects and learning. My themes today are text, 3D textiles, women and textiles, woman’s voice, and the Greek myth of Philomela and Tereus. This entry is all over the place, it is not linear. It evidences the nature of internet research, with its multiple simultaneous threads reaching in many directions at once. They interlock and overlap and that is what I have here.
“Text” etymology: from Latin textus “style or texture of a work,” literally “thing woven,” from past participle stem of texere “to weave, to join, fit together, braid, interweave, construct, fabricate, build,” from PIE root *teks- “to weave, to fabricate, to make; make wicker or wattle framework”
An ancient metaphor: thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns — but the true storyteller, the poet, is a weaver. The scribes made this old and audible abstraction into a new and visible fact. After long practice, their work took on such an even, flexible texture that they called the written page a textus, which means cloth. [Robert Bringhurst, “The Elements of Typographic Style”]
“Will I still take my loom to craft fairs to show how it was done in the old days? Will there still be craft fairs? When you can take an object home and have a computer replicate it for you, will there be a reason to buy anything from an experienced craftsperson? Or will people’s individuality be so evident in their creations that we continue to buy their work to capture the sparks that speak to us?”
I just found out about Iris Van Herpen, a Dutch fashion designer who works with other artists, architects, and scientists to make clothing that blurs the line between nature and technology. She uses 3D printing, 3D weaving, laser cutting, injection molding, and “intricate architectural handwork” to create these:
“…wearing a 3D-printed outfit is as close as we can currently get to wearing code” – Alice Fisher
Next up is Mary Clare de Graffenried, a radical feminist social reformer from the 19th century:
From de Graffenried’s piece “The New Woman and Her Debts” , “Popular Science,” September 1896:
“Savage woman founded all the modern crafts. She was the butcher, the cook and server, the skin curer and dresser, the furrier, tailor, carver, cobbler, the hat and dress maker. She it was who made possible the great modern textile industries. In weaving, dyeing, embroidery, molding, modeling, and painting, in the origination first of geometric patterns and then of free-hand drawing, primitive women elaborated aesthetic art. They were also the earliest linguists, the founders of society as distinguished from savagery, the home-makers, and the patrons of religion.” (p 665)
“I referred a while ago to the new woman’s debt to primitive mothers. I would speak now of the new woman’s debt to the real working woman; to her who first leaped over the home threshold and broke the fetters of tradition that confined the gentler sex strictly within the domestic sphere; to the first female wage-earners who dared public opinion, suffered odium, and underwent the hardships inevitable to new and untried conditions in order to open up all the noble crafts, trades, and professions on which the girl of to-day enters without strife or penalty.” (p. 666)
Now I have an excerpt from scholar Patricia Liendienst‘s essay “The Voice of the Shuttle is Ours” (part of a book-length study of shifting representations of rape; in this part, Liendienst critiques male interpretations of the Greek myth “The Rape of Philomela by Tereus”):
“When Geoffrey Hartman asks of Sophocles’ metaphor “the voice of the shuttle”: “What gives these words the power to speak to us even without the play?” he celebrates Language and not the violated woman’s emergence from silence. He celebrates Literature and the male poet’s trope, not the woman’s elevation of her safe, feminine, domestic craft––weaving––into art as a new means of resistance. The feminist receiving the story of Philomela via Sophocles’ metaphor, preserved for us by Aristotle, asks the same question but arrives at a different answer. She begins further back, with Sappho, for whom Philomela, transformed into a wordless swallow, is the sign of what threatens the woman’s voiced existence in culture.”
Back to 3D technology! There is a symposium in London this March called “Threads and Codes” that will be highlighting a project called “Weaving codes – coding weaves,” headed by Alex Mclean. It deals with 3D loom simulation, tablet weaving, coding with threads, and more stuff that I’ve never heard of but am super interested in.
About the symposium:
“The Weaving Codes, Coding Weaves project explores the practices of weaving and computer programming together, considering both looms and computers as algorithmic environments for creative work with pattern. The connection between computing and the Jacquard loom is well known, but we want to go deeper in history and philosophy, to investigate traditional work with threads for its digital nature, including the genesis of discrete mathematics in ancient looms. This will provide an unravelling of contemporary technology, finding an alternative account of computer programming with its roots in arts and craft. On this basis this symposium will investigate contemporary theoretical points where textile and code-based crafts connect.”
Is 3D printing “greener” than current manufacturing and shipping practices? Here is an article from Michigan Technological University on this very subject!
Ten weeks isn’t enough time to dig into all of this as deeply as I want to; but it is enough time to be exposed to it, to make meaningful connections, and to begin a conversation between myself and the larger world. Through this class I am challenged to engage with outside sources and to be a part of a larger experience, which is so different from the type of isolated, self-referential making I have been doing my whole life. The complexities of my inquiry are vast, and I’m coming to understand what is meant by the phrase “in a state of constant becoming.”