Archive for April, 2009

@platea Online Art Performance: Join Us!

I am on the steering committee of an exciting new project by @platea called ‘Co-Modify’. It is an online art performance which will be happenening next week (3rd-9th May), and it would be brilliant if you’d join us!

Go to the @platea website here to sign up, then  join the Facebook group or follow @platea or me on Twitter for more information.

Here are the full details:

Online Public Art Collective to Enact Fictional Sponsorships on Social
Media Networks

Online public art collective @Platea will be performing “Co-Modify”, a
commentary on and exploration of the commodification of social media.
From May 3 through 9, a number of performers will be enacting a
fictional sponsorship by a company of their choosing and embedding
that company’s brand into their daily social media activities. Via a
collective online performance focused on Twitter and Facebook
accounts, @Platea performers will be enacting a world where everything
we do online has monetization value and a world where, more and more,
embedded and targeted advertising has become part and parcel with our
daily lives.

“In marketing, there’s this notion of finding that segment of one,
i.e., catering to the individual, rather than broad groups. It’s more
of a theoretical ideal, like the horizon or the perfect circle,”

writes An Xiao, director and founder of @Platea.

“And yet, embedded, contextual advertising is bringing us closer to that reality. All the
data about ourselves that we upload to Facebook and blogs, everything
we type about ourselves in Gmail, the little quips and jokes and
flirtations and family photos and comments between friends–all these
little lifestreams can be aggregated into a picture of who we are and,
importantly, what we might spend money on.”

In the open-source and open-information culture of Web 2.0,
“Co-Modify” will be a statusing (online happening), a free-form public
art performance that anyone is welcome to join. It will span multiple
social media streams, including but not limited to Twitter and
Facebook. I, for example, will be
‘sponsored’ by Sirdar, the British knitting company:

“My Facebook, Ravelry and Twitter profile pictures for the week will show me wearing a hat made from some of their yarn. Every now and then, I’ll post a status update: perhaps
‘Ingrid is working on a hat design using Sirdar Denim Chunky.’

Not every post, of course, will be sponsored, but, as with
celebrity endorsements, my sponsored actions will be embedded
seamlessly with my regular activities.”

@Platea is a collective of individuals interested in the power of
public art carried out in the digital megacity of social media. Their
most recent project, “The Great Yawn”, was a Twitter-based flash mob
of some 100 individuals, including contemporary artists Rachel Perry
Welty, Matt Held, Joanie San Chirico, Nina Meledandri and others. On
March 31 at 1:15 pm EST, @Platea members tweeted a collective yawn,
from Los Angeles to New York to London to Tasmania, to explore the
mundane and monumental elements of Twitter. The event attracted the
attention of a number of art world blogs, including Bad at Sports,
Hrag Vartanian, and New Curator.

@Platea was founded by artist An Xiao, a photographer and digital
media artist exploring issues in contemporary social media. Her
Twitter-based art projects have been featured with the Brooklyn
Museum, the Guardian UK, ArtNews and NYFA Current. Its steering
committee is comprised of members in two continents, including
British-based textile artist Ingrid Murnane.

@Platea can be found online at


Brainstorm 2.0: First Experiment.

I tried some core spinning techniques recently as an experiment into combining different types and thicknesses of fibre and other media. I wanted to see how they plied together and how this might lend itself to talking about electricity and insulation.

I was initially inspired by brainwave patterns and was trying to get that kind of imagery in the yarn that I made.

Straight Outta My Head

Straight Outta My Head

My first attempt was just a commercially spun teal alpaca yarn and an emerald green corriedale single ply that I had spun myself. It resulted in this:

Corespun corriedale wool and alpaca yarn

Corespun corriedale wool and alpaca yarn

Very pretty and all, but I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. There wasn’t much yardage either.

I’ve been thinking about insulation a lot and in particular, hats and gloves which might insulate for warmth. Many questions surround this: could I somehow work the idea further so that the body, head and brain could be insulated from barometric pressure which comes with storms? Could my temporal lobe be insulated so the epilepsy can’t get hold of the other lobes and spread to a full blown seizure? Could this insulation factor (for want of a better term) be part of the actual yarn as well as what I make with it afterwards? What could I spin together to do this? (Shall I stop asking questions now and show you what I made?)

Anyway, eventually I came up with a first attempt at making those ideas into a piece of wearable art. I used a good few train journeys to decide what to make and a pub quiz as experimentation time to knit it up.

Anti-Convulsant Wrist Warmer

Anti-Convulsant Wrist Warmer

It is the first attempt at an insulating anti-convulsant wrist-warmer. If only it really worked and was not just conceptual!

It featured on New Curator’s ArtFriday post a couple of weeks ago, and before posting it, Pete at New Curator asked me how it was anti-convulsant. Of course, being so close to the work, I don’t think to explain to others what I mean because it is so obvious to me.  Anyway, this was my explaination, which you might also find helps to clarify what I was trying to do in making this piece:

‘[It is anti-convulsant ] just in concept. I have epilepsy. When I have a seizure the aura (medical term for the warning a seizure is impending) travels up my left arm from my ring finger and spreads throughout my body. I was playing with the idea that the wrist warmer could be the buffer zone, insulating against the bodily electricity conducting itself up my arm. Maybe changing it from harmful to harmless electricity, if there is such a thing.’

I think that the whole idea needs more work but was a successful experiment in drawing out the concept further.

Let me know what you think. Comments, questions and constructive criticism are always welcome!

To begin…

I’ve recently realised that in writing about my textile work, I have become much more active in my making.

I will be updating this blog as somewhat of a visual diary and reflecting on the processes, techniques and outcomes that I use to create the many and varied arms of my practice. I will be writing about a variety of textile related work that I am making, thinking about or am generally interested in.

I make work in a number of guises: the craft education researcher, the hobbyist-knitter, the knitter-designer, the new crocheter, the art-yarn spinner and the conceptual artist. Most of these areas seem to overlap at one point or another. I’m generally technique-led and like to learn something new and then see how I can push it. I do tend to be more interested in the process than the outcome a lot of the time.

One project that has I have recently been thinking about a lot is Brainstorm 1.0: my BA Textile Art degree show work. I’m revisiting and attempting to resolve it as, you guessed it: Brainstorm 2.0…

I’ve been trying to make work about human electricity for a few years now. I made a lot of pleated work at university in which I was trying to talk about the brainwaves, and the correlations between epilepsy and storms. This is something from my degree show.

Brainstorm 1.0 version 27.8 -2005

Brainstorm 1.0 version 27.8 -2005

This idea has been dormant for a while now and while I think I took it as far as I could with pleating, I don’t feel like it ever was fully resolved.

I’ve recently started to learn to spin on a drop spindle, and am exploring the ways that the fibres ply together to form a new yarn. There seems to be a lot which I could draw on and use in this technique to take the electricity idea in different directions.

Thinking about ideas of nerves and neurones, insulation, and the ways that the actual action of spinning can lend itself to talking about these ideas.

I’ve a lot to explore and experiment with in this new project.

I’ll keep you updated.