Data Excess: Weaving Digital Refuse | Sophia Borowska
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)
With exception of the original screenshot (YouTube), these process images were generated in Pointcarré weaving software.
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