system | textile | electronics | image | device | data | code | performance | space

Oiko-nomic Threads

By: Marinos Koutsomichalis, Maria Varela, Afroditi Psarra
By means of rethinking, modifying and redefining the functionality of an obsolete knitting machine and using both financial data from the databases of National Manpower Employment Offices and selected patterns inspired by Greek folk art, a textile is generated algorithmically and in real-time.
system | textile | electronics | image | device | data | code | performance | space

Oiko-nomic Threads

By means of rethinking, modifying and redefining the functionality of an obsolete knitting machine and using both financial data from the databases of National Manpower Employment Offices and selected patterns inspired by Greek folk art, a textile is generated algorithmically and in real-time.

By: Marinos Koutsomichalis, Maria Varela, Afroditi Psarra

Materials:
Brother kh-950i knitting machine, micro-controller, bespoke software, computer, 2 LCD screens, threads, financial data, folk motifs

Dimensions:
Variable, min 6m x 3m x 2m

Commissioned by:
Greek National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST), Athens GR
Greek National Documentation Centre, Athens GR

Produced by:
the Greek National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST), Athens GR

Produced at:
Afroditi Psarra’s studio, Athens GR

Produced in:
2013

Documented by:
Aggeliki Hatzi, Marinos Koutsomichalis, Maria Varela, Afroditi Psarra, VideoBrasil, Grimius Inevitabilis

The installation Oiko-nomic Threads represents a system commenting on the notion of work through the production of a textile. By means of rethinking, modifying and redefining the functionality of an obsolete knitting machine and using both financial data from the databases of National Manpower Employment Offices and selected patterns inspired by Greek folk art, a textile is generated algorithmically and in real-time. This way, the woven textile is to be understood as both a document of its own making as well as a dynamic base of archival resources which presents a computer-generated interpretation of the original financial data.

 

Oiko-nomic Threads has been exhibited on several occasions around the world, allowing the artists to experiment with different installation set-ups and ways to present the core elements the work pivots on. The work is typically ‘performed’ during an exhibition’s opening and in regular intervals thereafter, so as to produce new knitted textiles and so as to demonstrate its operation to local audiences.

At a technical level the project pivots on backwards engineering and re-appropriating an obsolete knitting machine so that it becomes indeed possible to make it part of an operating system. In this fashion the project brings together several different labour and production paradigms, in both symbolic and concretely operational levels: pre-industrial labour (traditional folk mottifs), industrial labour (knitting machines as the motor of the industrial revolution), digital labour (code, computer, data, knitting machine as the predecessor of the computer), DIY (hacking/tinkering), manual labour (the system still needs a human operator), advanced (venture) capitalism (data related to unemployment in Greece the first years following the financial crisis of 2009).

In this fashion, the combination of elements from diverse production/labour paradigms into an operational system, also becomes a symbolic gesture towards the need to rethink economy, tradition, labour, technology, and computing in more inclusive and more open ways.

The building blocks for the visualisation are a series of digitised Motiffs that originate in the Greek knitting and weaving tradition. Weaving in Greece has historically played an important role in societies; woven textiles were (still are) consider valuables, so that women would typically weave their wealth at home. Women with lots of such textiles (and other valuables) were considered worth marrying and woven artefacts are still given to young couples as wedding presents all around present-day Greece.

Events
  • Exhibition, TETRAMATYKA Festival; National Academy of Fine Arts. Lviv, UA. (2017)
  • Exhibition, 19th Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil; Sesc Pompei. São Paulo, BR. (2015)
  • Exhibition, 16th WRO Media Art Biennale. Wrocław, PL. (2015)
  • Publication, In Ng, K., Bowen, J.P., Lambert Ν. (eds) Proceedings of the Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA) Conference (London, UK) pp. 122-123. (2015)
  • Exhibition, Pieces of textile, Microsoft Research Studio 99; International Symposium on Wearable Computers Design Exhibition. Seattle, US-WA. (2014)
  • Exhibition, Pieces of textile, Future Innovators Summit; Ars Electronica. Linz, AT. (2014)
  • Exhibition, No Country for the Young Men group exhibition; Bozar Centre for Fine Arts. Brussels, BE. (2014)
  • Exhibition, Future-Past Past-Future group exhibition; Transmediale 14. Supermarkt. Berlin, DE. (2014)
  • Publication, In Proceedings of the ACM International Symposium on Wearable Computers (Seattle, US-WA). New York, US-NY: ACM. (2014)
  • Publication, Poster. Subtle Technologies Festival Symposium. Toronto, CA. (2014)
  • Exhibition, Afresh group exhibition; National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST). Athens, GR. (2013-14)
  • Talk, Creativity Conference: Open & Economically Sustainable Models of Creative Production. Athens, GR. (2013)