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24 September 2014

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You are in: Wear > People > People Features > A stitch in this modern time

Open Source Embroidery

Open Source Embroidery - end-products

A stitch in this modern time

Sunderland-based artist Ele Carpenter is combining traditional crafts with modern day computer programming,and is inviting people thinking about the importance of the process over the finished product.

In a time where computers rule our world and where our clothes are forever becoming cheaper and more like everyone else's, people like Ele Carpenter are finding ways of looking at computer programming and handcraft through so-called socially engaged art projects.

Ele Carpenter

Artist Ele Carpenter

Ele Carpenter used to be the curator of Sunderland's Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art, the NGCA, situated above the City Library on Fawcett Street.
But it's in her capacity as a freelance researcher and artist with Sunderland University-based CRUMB, undertaking Curatorial Research into Upstart Media Bliss, that we meet her.

With Open Source Embroidery (OSE), Ele is taking the elements of software programming and needlework crafts to create an art project where the focus is as much on the process of the action as the finished product. She uses workshops as part of the art process, where people can meet and discuss their work.

Old and new techniques

"Open Source Embroidery is based on the common characteristics of needlework crafts and open source programming" is how Ele begins her workshops. She continues by explaining that it's about "sharing and modifying code, through a social development process, valuing amateur and professional creativity".

It's after one of these workshops that we meet with Ele. A selection of knitters and embroiderers met with a group of computer programmers to discuss the issues surrounding the two practices, sometimes writing it down as mind-maps.

Open source mind map

A result of the workshops

Do programmers and crafts people share any traits?

Ele thinks for a while and says:
"They're both into obsessive activities and are paying attention to detail. Both have a kind of ethical commitment and value the process of making for themselves and others."

Ele finds a quote by a knitter who discusses knitting and computer programming in a radio show that she's found online. In it, knitter Lisa Williams says:

"Knitting gives me a lot of respect for my ancestors as hackers... Knitting is source code – you look at a knitting pattern – that's the code for a sweater. As we industrialise, more and more of the world we experience comes in a black box. We know how to use things but we don't know how they work. I've been de-black boxing my wardrobe."

After the workshop, the group is invited to continue the discussion online in e-mail groups so the conversation, modification and development continues.

last updated: 03/04/2008 at 09:40
created: 25/05/2007

You are in: Wear > People > People Features > A stitch in this modern time

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