Weaving Through Physical and Digital Materiality

The history of weaving indexes the history of capitalism, the industrial revolution, and globalization. Nearly every step in the development of modern capitalism, the slave trade, colonization, industrialization, globalization, and offshoring are all tied up with the insatiable development of manufactured textiles at the expense of local and indigenous, often women-led, making practices. The Industrial Revolution in England was primarily a revolution in cotton textile production, one that depended for profitability on the enslavement of humans in the American south. Without slavery in America, the Industrial Revolution would have looked very different. Famously this history intersects with the history of computers in the form of the Jacquard Loom, one of the first programmable machines, and an inspiration to computing pioneers like Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, and Alan Turing. By investigating these parallel histories together, we will gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of contemporary global capitalism, its history, and how indigenous and craft practices provide modes of resistance and knowledges of ways forward into a world threatened by the environmental and human casualties of Anthropocene.

Workshops will be held at DMA at the UCLA Arts Conditional Studio (https://conditional.arts.ucla.edu/‚Äč).

Workshop topics will include:

  • History of weaving and computers from contemporary and historical global practices, jacquard, industrialization, and slave trade, to Turing and programmable digital computers.
  • Basics of weaving by hand, types of weaving, ways to encode a pattern, creating idiosyncratic languages for a weaving pattern.
  • Basics of programming patterns with p5js, translation from p5js to weaving patterns.
  • Demonstration and practice with using a floor loom. Refactoring ideas for tooling based on differences among types of weaving.

In addition to the workshops, the Conditional Studio will host open office hours for participants to work and use the floor loom to develop their works.

The project will culminate in an exhibition in the Untitled space at UCLA of woven textiles alongside computer code and the generated weaving patterns.