DESIGN – MEANING AND METHOD
The computer and textile weaving share structural approaches to design and offer metaphorical parallels through which to explore the relationship between familiar objects and a sense of belonging. Just as the nomadic weavers of Central and Western Asia used textiles to make their home wherever they went (Hull and Luczyc-Wyhowska, 1993), the author wanted to create her own sense of place using digital media reflective of the age in which she lives.This project aims to provide a site for current craft discourse through the interpretation of an ancient tradition – textile weaving – in a medium that is part of almost every facet of contemporary Western culture – computer technology.
The first works in the Digital Rug series, Digital Rug 1 and Digital Rug 2, draw more obvious influence from the kilims of ancient nomadic weavers. For example, in Digital Rug 1, parts of several traditional motifs from these kilims are appropriated into a new context, with the intention of offering new possibilities in design and the interpretation of meaning. Taken from their original context, these motifs cannot hold onto their old symbology.
After considerable visual research, a number of motifs from traditional kilims were found to be compositionally appropriate for containment and manipulation in the Digital Rug designs. Certain motifs were scanned and colour re-worked in Adobe® Photoshop®, and imported into Adobe® Illustrator® to be contained within a pre-created bead template. Exact placement of the motifs was defined, building an asymmetrical repeat pattern. In order to connect the repeated motifs, every bead was individually coloured within the range of the colour palette chosen for each work. Some beads were relocated within this template or removed from it in order to create a work that was individual, implying the originality of the hand-made.
The resulting new works became an exploration into the power of symbols as carriers of meaning and how original meaning may be subverted in a new context. At the very least, on a purely visual level, the graphic quality of the motifs and their placement within the design combine elements of the past and present to create a unique visual language exploring the author’s understanding of journey and place-making as an intersection of horizontal and vertical journeys defining a sense of home-place.
WORKS BY CONTEMPORARIES
In 2000, writer and curator, Kevin Murray curated the exhibition Loom at Craft South in Adelaide, Australia. The exhibition was an investigation into current relationships between technology and textile art, including works by Jennifer Robertson, Paul Brown, David Sag and Gwendolyn Zierdt. More specifically, the curatorial premise focused on whether technological advances can be assimilated into the story of weaving. (Murray, 2000)
In the early nineteenth century, Joseph-Marie Jacquard developed a series of punched cards to automate the weaving process, creating the ‘Jacquard’ loom. Some thirty years later, Charles Babbage, an inventor, used this idea to design the Analytical Engine, a device with components conceptually similar to modern computers. Murray (2000) wrote in the catalogue essay for Loom: “His muse, Ada Lovelace, wrote that Babbage’s machine ‘weaves algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.’ Computers and looms have evolved alongside each other” (p.1).
For the purpose of this paper, the author has chosen to focus on this exhibition as an example of work by her contemporaries given the relevance to her rationale and working methodology.