Data Excess: Weaving Digital Refuse | Sophia Borowska

Sophia Borowska's sculpture and installation work aims to deconstruct binaries through the semiotic associations of materials and processes.

The everlasting, the idealistic, the functional, the mathematical, the precise, the utopian, the masculine, and the potential for control in architectural and virtual spaces, are questioned.

In her vocabulary, textiles and the manipulation of threads represent viscerality, sensuousness, materiality, and embodied learning. Combining dissimilar elements from both sides of the binary, the installations turn opposites into hybrids, and mind questions into body questions.

In these physically demanding works, monumentality is longed for but quelled by the softness and elasticity of textile. Environments created by the fusion of fibres, architecture, and the digital aim to unpack the troubled relationships between gender, body, textile, and space. As the work is held in tension between the seemingly dualistic forces of architecture and textiles, virtual and physical, art and craft, or mind and body, a breaking down of these binaries occurs.

Sophia Borowska (b.1993) is a Montreal-based artist and researcher working in fibres, sculpture, and installation. She received a Diploma in Textile Arts from Capilano University in 2013, and a BFA in Fibres and Material Practices from Concordia University in 2016. She has exhibited in Canadian artist-run centres, galleries, and DIY spaces, and is published and has presented research in Canada and the U.S. She also takes part in curating art-related events as part of the Anti-Oppression Commitee at articule artist-run centre. She is a research assistant to Professor Kelly Thompson as part of the project Material Codes: Ephemeral Traces, and a member of the Textiles and Materiality Cluster at Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture, and Technology at Concordia University.

About Data Excess: Weaving Digital Refuse 
Data Excess: Weaving Digital Refuse is a research-creation project led by Sophia Borowska, at the Textiles and Materiality Cluster in Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology at Concordia University.

Revolving around the use of digitally-assisted looms, the project interprets, visualizes, and materializes digital waste as an expressive outcome of online culture. The essay seeks conceptual links between weaving and digital culture online, given that industrialized punch-card weaving technology led to the development of binary code and computer memory. Commonalities between weaving and Internet cultures begin to occur around the theme of excesses.

Weaving is seen as in excess of the Modernist conception of art and its hegemony of the visual, being a tactile, physical, and sometimes decorative medium. The Internet, too, can be seen as having excesses: porn, spam, viruses, etc. These are locations where the physical body, its wants, needs, and habits, are implicated into the online experience, which is often regarded as a disembodied one.

Weaving can work through the concepts of digital refuse, and defend materiality, because it engages with excesses. Data Excess examines the concepts of the Poor Image – as described by Hito Steyerl – and of Litspam emails, in the form of two series of weavings. Weaving is well suited to the interpretation of the uneasy products of the digital age due to its own uneasy place within the art historical canon, as well as its particularly tactile, haptic nature. 

Low Res Series: Dubious Data Pools

Double-sided Jacquard Weaving, 2016, 6-colour mercerized cotton warp, cotton weft, 18” x 28" (Left: front, Right: reverse)

Process Images
With exception of the original screenshot (YouTube), these process images were generated in Pointcarré weaving software.

Left: Original screen shot, Right: Reduced colour image with colour chips

Multiple-weave structures by colour

Text structure for reverse 

Detail of integrated weave structures, with warp and weft colours

Image with structures integrated, as read by the loom