Exploring Evolutionary Possibilities for Digital Doilies

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Gail Kenning: Exploring Evolutionary Possibilities for Digital Doilies. In: Generative Art 2008.



Textiles, as an industry, a field of research, and a creative discipline is at the forefront of exploring the potentiality of new technologies and digital media. However, at the grassroots level of textiles, domestic hobbyists primarily use new media technologies to set up websites, blogs and community groups for the discussion of designs, exchange of patterns, for distribution of images of craft objects produced.

While some handicraft techniques were industrialised during the industrial revolution, for example, knitting, embroidery and some forms of lace making were mechanised, other techniques remained relatively unchanged and the industrial revolution had minimal impact on many forms of domestic handicrafts. So, like the industrial revolution will the information age also have little impact on many domestic handicraft hobbyists?

New media technologies present opportunities for hobbyists to engage with their handicrafts at the source of their interest, which for many engaged in activities such as lace making, is the process and the pattern. This paper shows how domestic hobbyist handicraft activities have inherent properties that enable them to be used to explore complex issues such as evolutionary development of pattern forms and emergent possibilities, by using new media and digital technologies. The project discussed translated crochet lace pattern forms – doilies - into the digital environment. The crochet lace pattern forms were digitally reconstructed (two dimensionally in the first instance) in the digital environment by writing computer software scripts to create onscreen images, emulating the process of construction of a crochet lace patterns. Once the rules for the construction of a pattern form had been translated into computer code, the data is available for manipulation. The data relating to the crochet lace pattern forms were purposefully manipulated the introduction of ‘noise’ into the system was encouraged, in an attempt to evolve the crochet lace pattern forms or promote emergence.

Extended Abstract


Used References

[1] Gail Kenning, ‘Pattern as Process: An aesthetic exploration of the digital possibilities for conventional, physical lace patterns’ unpublished PhD Thesis 2007 and Rosemary Shepherd, ‘The Contemporary Lace Exhibition 2001’ http://www.phm.gov.au/media/lace2001.htm 25/5/03

[2] Donald W. Crowe and Dorothy K. Washburn, Symmetry Comes of Age: The Role of Pattern in Culture (Seattle:. University of Washington Press, 2004) xi

[3] Pat Earnshaw, Threads of Lace: from Source to Sink (Guilford: Gorse Publications. 1989), 1-43

[4] Madeleine Ginsburg, The Illustrated History of Textiles (London: Studio Editions, 1991) and Judith, L Gwynne, The Illustrated Dictionary of Lace (London. B.T. Batsford Ltd 1997)

[5] Ginsburg, Op. Cit., 9-12 and Crowe and Washburn Op.Cit., x

[6] Pat Earnshaw, The Identification of lace (Riseborough: Shire Publications Ltd 1980), 45

[7] Roberto Casati & Achill Varzi,. Holes and Other Superficialities (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press and London: Bradford Books1994), 20

[8] Earnshaw, The Identification of lace, 45

[9] Shepherd ‘The Contemporary Lace Exhibition 2001’

[10] Virginia Churchill Bath, Lace. (New York: Penguin Books 1979), 5

[11] It should be noted that while patterns use a single continuous thread patterns may consist of multiple motifs that are created separately and are joined together to complete the piece, or on occasions are not joined but form sets of doilies that are positioned in the same vicinity on a piece of furniture.

[12] Although Mary Konior suggests that there were written reference to crochet hooks between AD50 and 137 and that the activity continued in the Middle East this is speculation as there has been no fragmentary evidence found. See Mary Konior, Heritage Crochet: An Analysis (London: Dryad Press Ltd. 1987), 10 A more reliable, less speculative history is offered by Lis Paludan. See Lis Paludan, Crochet: History and Technique (Colorado: Interweave Press. USA 1995), 76

[13] Mary Waldrep, introduction to Masterpieces of Irish Crochet Lace edited by Therese De Dillmont (New York: Dover Publications, Inc.1986), 5 and Konior, Op. Cit., 14-17

[14] http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library/information/arts/crocheting.htm accessed and Paludan, Op.Cit.

[15] It is interesting that this criticism is directed at crochet lace for copying patterns as it has been a widespread activity in lace-making generally.

[16] Paludan, Op. Cit., 65 and Patricia Wardle, ‘Victorian Lace’ in Irish Crochet Lace: 150 years of a Tradition Exhibition Catalogue http://lacismuseum.org/exhibit/Irish%20Crochet%20Lace.pdf accessed 12/08/2007

[17] The name comes from a nineteenth century shopkeeper in London who sold fabrics; Mr D’Oyley. See Konior, Op. Cit.

[18] Judith, L Gwynne, The Illustrated Dictionary of Lace (London. B.T. Batsford Ltd 1997), 10

[19] Churchill Bath, Op., Cit.

[20] Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press 2001), 22

[21] Waldrep, Op. Cit.

[22] Rosemary Shepherd. ‘Structures of Necessity’ Artists Statement in Exhibition Catalogue www.lacedaisypress.com.au/philosophy.html last accessed 10/11/2006

[23] Charlotte Delwich, Tenth Lace Biennial Catalogue for the exhibition. (Brussels: Musee De Costume et de la Dentelle 2002), 56

[24] Earnshaw. Threads of Lace: from Source to Sink, 97

[25] Delwich,. in the introduction to the third lace Biennial 1985 and Earnshaw, Threads of Lace: from Source to Sink, 97 and Delwich, Tenth Lace Biennial and Rosemary Shepherd, ‘The Contemporary Lace Exhibition 2001’

[26] Konior, Op. Cit., 14

[27] Shepherd, ‘Structures of Necessity’

[28] Samplers pre-empt the construction of many textile forms across a range of techniques (i.e. knitting, crochet, embroidery etc). They serve as a means to practice the technique, explore the material and to test the accuracy of the tension applied, and to test pattern arrangements.

[29] I am deliberately adopting the term Glitch often associated with a 1990’s music genre, in particularly the work of Kim Cascone and using the term to suggest how the patterns are created from bugs, crashes, system errors etc which impact upon the pattern process visually

[30] It is noteworthy that the physical crochet lace patterns usually require all elements of a pattern to be joined for them to be part of the overall pattern. However, a precedent has been set for this way of working with physical crochet lace pattern making where motifs can be constructed as discrete elements of the overall pattern and then joined by another motif or series of linking patterns or simply placed alongside each other.

[31] While this radiating pattern is familiar in physical crochet lace pattern making, the intensity with which these patterns grew, and the relationship between the size of the individual stitches and the size of the overall pattern, have not been explored in physical pattern forms.


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