• Irene Albino

;> Degree Show project Knitted artwork + performance 68 cm x 25 m Lambswool, laptops, screen, Arduino In collaboration with Ellen Jonsson https://projectunravel.com Unravel is a performance of the making of a knitted manifesto which unravels ideas and preconceptions of binarisms: craft and design, analog and digital, female and male, zeroes and ones. Our aim is to challenge gender stereotypes of male-dominated computer hacking, and the domestic female ‘quick and easy’ hobby of knitting. By looping together conceptual threads, during our Degree Show, we connected the nodes in a network composed of our research and influences. The project also explores the communal spirit of a craft; a space in which people can share thoughts and opinions: craft as a vehicle for political change.

The concept
Perfectly summed up in the word 'textus', text and textiles are deeply linked and interconnected with coding. Language and knitting are coded systems themselves: a set of rules and functions.
In this process of interlacing yarns and ideas, the medium becomes the message.
We found there was no better way to talk about binarisms than by using the binary system par excellence: weaving and the Jacquard loom is the first form of programming.
We asked ourselves: In what ways and to what extent can we pursue a mix of old and new technologies? What new perspective will the hybrid outcomes give us on design and communication?
For this purpose we hacked the Brother 950i Electroknitting machine -model 1984- and produced a 25 meters long knitted essay during our Degree Show. The text is a collection of extracts and quotes by authors that inspire us in our practices: Margaret Atwood, Sadie Plant, Marshall McLuhan, Monique Wittig, Donna Haraway, Anni Albers, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze; just to name a few.

The performative installation.
We didn’t want to just show a finished knitted piece. The content was knitted and revealed (unraveled) day by day, during the week of the Degree Show, and included a title, 4 Chapters and a bibliography.
We believe that design can be performative. Pushing the boundaries of what graphic design is- and can be- brings a higher engagement with the audience. The positive feedback we had during the Show and the exciting response of people to the work only but confirmed that.
The cubical installation was designed to reflect upon the hybrid usage of technologies, and in this, the knitting machine functions as a printer, although ‘printing’ on textile. An arduino-based motor would help the knitted piece roll out of a slot into a canvas scoop, facilitating the audience to read the knitted text and pick it up to explore the content of the previous days.
Images of the text that was being knitted each day would appear on a screen and were simultaneously uploaded on an online platform specifically created for the project. It was important for us that people read the texts and reflected, as we did, upon the issues we were trying to tackle. For that reason, knitting a bibliography was essential to track down the sources of the text and give people the opportunity to read more if they wished.