The French Residence | October 10, 2018 - February 28, 2019
Stitching and Weaving
in the Digital Age
Guillermo Bert, Windy Chien, Lia Cook,
Kira Dominguez Hultgren, James Lanahan, Clive McCarthy,
Casey Reas, LigoranoReese and Laura Splan.
Opening Reception, October 10th
100 Edgewood, San Francisco
In 1801, French textile merchant Joseph Marie Jacquard invented the “jacquard machine”, a device fitted to power a loom that simplified the manufacture of textiles. Controlled by a chain of punched cards laced together in a continuous sequence, this new method revolutionized the textile industry. Little did Jacquard realize that his invention would become a national treasure nor that a century and a half later the punched card would be the inspiration for Babbage’s analytical engine, Hollerith’s tabulating machine and IBM’s first computer introduced in the 1940s and 1950s.
While the 1970s marked a social transformation worldwide, artists of that time naturally engaged in redefining their art practice. Like two forces moving in opposite directions (the hand versus the machine), artists created bodies of work that came to be known as Land Art, and Arts and Crafts at the same time as others explored High Tech and the early days of Computer Art.
This exhibition “Stitching and Weaving in the Digital Age” explores the many unexplored relationships between craft and technology and shows, through the work of a group of artists, how contemporary art practice has seamlessly embraced both. Many artists employing technology are wanting to strip away the “techy” aspect of their work and return to the “hands-on” approach and feel while weavers are fascinated by the idea of incorporating tech into their craft practice.
Innovation is the touchstone of tomorrow. Apple and Google will continue to bring us data solutions and new objects of desire. Emerging technologies in artificial intelligence, data collection embedded in threads and new production methods are currently being applied to the apparel industry while weaving and tapestry are making a strong come back as an art practice of the 21st century. Contemporary artists always continue to find ways to turn the technologies of the future back into art that subverts their intent.
It is fascinating to think that Jacquard created a punched wooden card capable of producing a repeated pattern in textile and that 150 years later it was a punched paper card that sparked the first computer. From craft to technology and back, these are all marvelous acts of imagination.
Casey Reas writes software to explore conditional systems as art. Through defining emergent networks and layered instructions, he has defined a unique area of visual experience that builds upon concrete art, conceptual art, experimental animation, and drawing. While dynamic, generative software remains his core medium, work in variable media including prints, objects, installations, and performances materialize from his visual systems. Gathering source material from newspapers, social media profiles, broadcast television and YouTube searches, Reas creates new real-time video works that manifest his personal confrontations with media. His software, prints, and installations have has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions at museums and galleries around the world. His work has been featured in over one hundred solo and group exhibitions at museums and galleries in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Reas’s work is in a range of private and public collections, including the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Reas is a professor in the Department of Design Media Arts at UCLA and, with Ben Fry, the co-founder of Processing. He holds a masters degree from the MIT as well as a bachelors degree from the School of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning at the University of Cincinnati.
The Today's Ideology series is a set of continuous, generative collages created from all of the editorial photos in a single day of The New York Times. The images are shuffled and then obliquely drawn, one at a time. Each work in the series is made on the day referenced in the title from the images from that day's paper. This work flattens the editorial hierarchy and reduces the significance of individual images to reshape the experience of reading the images.
Today Ideology, (August 22, 2018), dye sublimation on metal. 24"x12"
Guilty Party by the Nationals
Laura Splan is an artist and lecturer whose work explores intersections of art, science, technology and craft. Her conceptually based projects examine the material manifestations of our cultural ambivalence towards the human body with a range of traditional and new media techniques. She often uses found objects and appropriated sources to explore socially constructed perceptions of order and disorder, normal and aberrant.
The frenetic imagery in this series is formed from electromyography (EMG) data collected while performing tasks and expressions with my own body such as squinting, blinking and even unraveling a finished tapestry. The numerical EMG data was visualized in a custom Processing program that was written to repeat, rotate, and randomly colorize the EMG waveforms.
Splan's work has been included in numerous museum shows exhibitions around the country. Her work has been exhibited internationally in Iceland, South Korea, England, Germany, Sweden, France, and beyond.
She lives and works in Brooklyn.
Recursive Expression (Squint #1)
archival pigment print on hot press cotton rag
24" x 24", edition of 5 + 1 AP
Embodies Objects (Blink Twice), 2016
computerized jacquard loom woven cotton,
approx. 70”H x 53”W
"Certainty of Ambiguity" is a miniature portrait of patterns and colors derived from personal identification numbers such as phone number, social security number, date of birth and so on. These numbers configure illuminated geometries on woven fiber optic panels as themes and variations through custom software. "Certainty of Ambiguity" is the third in a series of woven fiber optic tapestries that visualizes different datasets as illuminated patterns and colors. The animations are cyclical patterns expanding and contracting in time. They are not random. Like fingerprints, Certainty of Ambiguity is an emblem and a sign of identity.
The pair Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese have collaborated as the artistic duo LigoranoReese for over forty years. Their works are included in the permanent collections of numerous institutions, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the New York Public Library, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Getty Institute. LigoranoReese live and work in Brooklyn, New York.
Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese are showing internationally for the past 30 years. They both live and work in New York.
Courtesy of Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Certainty of Ambiguity, 2017, 12"x12"x3", fiber optic and custom software
Chien believes it is the responsibility of artists to modernize traditional crafts and forms, in this case, macrame. The Circuit Boards are inspired by electronics parts, Massimo Vignelli’s New York City subway map, and Diana Vreeland’s maxim that “the eye has to travel.”
She begins each work with no preconceived composition nor preliminary sketches. Guided largely by intuition, she nevertheless works within precise parameters. In this sense, the Circuit Boards' subject can be understood as being about the process of their creation. Windy Chien makes art that activates space and crafts objects that elevate the daily rituals of life. She is best known for her 2016 project, The Year Of Knots, in which she learned a new knot every day for a year. Her work ranges in size from a knot that can fit in the palm of a child's hand to majestic, room-sized installations. Following long careers at Apple/iTunes and in the music industry, she launched her studio in 2015. Her work has been covered by Wired, The New York Times, and more. Chien lives and works in San Francisco, CA.
Circuit Board (black)
Media artist and technologist James Lanahan's work investigates the limitation of accepted modes of artistic expression and communication, such as sculpture, painting, and illustration, to convey the "truth" of their subject matter.
As part of the process of the artwork, Lanahan has leveraged a flaw he uncovered within Apple's iOS camera software that enables a single image to be manipulated over the time of capture. Moving the camera across a target subject delivers time-based imperfections that harken back to the famous "Nude Descending a Staircase" painting by pioneering French artist, Marcel Duchamp. However, inverting Duchamp's painting, Lanahan uses leading edge technology almost as a digital sketchpad to reframe classical artwork as it moves through time. By considering the artists' process and resulting work, the viewer is asked to question the inherent limitations of both the traditional arts and modern image capture technologies to present the "truth". Lanahan has been involved in the development of a number of pioneering digital media software and imaging architectures since the late 1980s. He lives and works in the Bay area.
From the "Known Unknown" series, digital print, 2018, ed. 10, 17"x22"
Cook works in a variety of media combining weaving with painting, photography, video and digital technology. Her current practice explores the sensuality of the woven image and the emotional connections to memories of touch and cloth. Working in collaboration with neuroscientists, she investigates the nature of the emotional response to woven faces by mapping these responses in the brain. She draws on the laboratory experience both with process and tools to stimulate new work in reaction to these investigations. Cook is interested in both the scientific study as well as my artistic response to these unexpected sources, exploring the territory between in several different ways. Her work has been shown internationally since the seventies and is a pioneer in fiber art. She is currently exhibited in Japan.
Cook works and lives in Berkeley, CA.
Connect To Me 2, 2015, cotton, rayon, 67"x51"
Sue Series and Curious, cotton and rayon, 16"x12" ea.
Encoded Textiles: Los Angeles is a new media project by artist Guillermo Bert looking at the harsh conditions of the migration experience of Maya and Zapotec Indigenous populations in Los Angeles, told through ten textiles and videos and twenty audio stories, drawn from interviews with Indigenous immigrants predominantly in Los Angeles, but also Mexico and Guatemala. Each textile, woven in the country of origin, incorporates a QR code alongside traditional iconography. Each QR leads to a webpage that plays a video or audio segment. Each page will change content regularly, to create portals to stories about the Indigenous immigrant experience. Bert lives and works in Los Angeles, CA
Nehuen (left), 2017 72"x 40"x2", wool, encoded barcode and custom software
La Bestia (right) , 2016 38"x21", cotton encoded barcode and custom software
Engineer turned artist, Clive McCarthy writes its own code to recreate painterly version of his own photographs. Juggling three mediums in the process, McCarthy's final abstract renderings are mind-bending. McCarthy spends most of his time researching master painters’ techniques in order to reproduce a specific brush stroke as an example. Coding is McCarthy's brush and his “paint” is entirely synthetic. A digital version of a painting of a photograph is happening in slow motion however never to materialize as the program works in random sequence indefinitely.
McCarthy spent years as chief engineer at the semiconductor maker Altera before taking up art in 1997. He received his MFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institue. His work has been shown at ICA, San Jose and in Canada. McCarthy lives and works in San Francisco, CA
In keeping with the theme of the show, and acknowledging the role of French Couture in the world, this piece brings together ideas about the importance of fabric in fashion. The work contains many runway images of haute couture which are, in general, made from high-quality, expensive, and unusual fabrics. Thus the runway images are rendered in an indistinct and secondary way to the vivid woven colors of the fabrics themselves.
"French Couture", 2018, custom software, video screen and computer. 22"x36"
Kira Dominguez Hultgren
Dominguez Hultgren combines her interests in postcolonial theory, oral storytelling, and weaving, as she seeks to decolonialize the family stories of racial identity she grew up hearing and repeating. Kira Dominguez Hultgren’s weavings are motivated by her ancestral and ongoing negotiations of approximate assimilation, synthetic identities, and the excesses that stride beyond categorizations. Kira Dominguez Hultgren is a California, Utah, and Minnesota based writer and textile artist. She studied French postcolonial theory and literature at Princeton University (B.A. Comparative Literature, 2003), and performance and fine arts in Río Negro, Argentina. She works and lives in San Francisco.
"Le Petit-Fils du Hazard, Un Coup de Dés," 2017, Variable: 11”-76” x 11”-17.” Jacquard woven images of Pace Dominguez Hultgren at age eleven in cotton, and novelty yarn. Inkjet printed on organza fabric, computer codes and weaves structures.