The second Sonic Pattern and the Textility of Code series of symposia is a collaboration between Karen Gaskill (who is currently lead curator of Crafts Council innovation) and myself in a variety of guises. The second one took place earlier this week, and went really well, with a range of provocative talks and performances around craft, technology and touching the abstract.
Videos of some of the presentations and performances will be shared soon, but here are some quick reflections.
Particularly interesting were recurring themes across the quite different practices. One was exploration of the low brow, of working with peoples reactions against certain practices (even sneering), to confound expectations and break open misconceptions. This was most clearly seen both in Sharon Mossbeck‘s conceptual approach to cross-stitch, finding rejection both by groups of artists and craftspeople, and Theo Burt‘s phenomenal process-based reworkings of what could be called over-produced mainstream dance music. When the presenters were talking about making people aware of the rules in craft, different approaches to them, and how to encourage people to break them, it became difficult to keep in mind that we were talking about e.g. knitting and not politics.
Another theme I spotted was anxiety, for example artists expressing anxiety about mathematics despite textile work being full of numbers (the number 24 in particular cropping up as being a “good” one in textiles for it’s excellent divisibility). Also also the anxieties of self-identifying as a digital or analogue artist (although I’d argue all artists have always been both), and the differing statuses that people hold these terms at.
Another theme was the ‘long view’ shared by some presenters, that pattern (as a digital artform) is ancient, embedded in our culture, and as Matt Jones got across by sharing his perception of the world with us, basically everywhere. This long view is core to Weaving Codes, as our own Francesca Sargent spoke about in the symposium.
I could say much more but will save my words until the videos are up!