Elizabeth Chadwick (www.electronknit.co.uk) is a print-maker turned digital knitter based in Leeds, working with a Brother KH940, IMG2Track and Knittington. I went to visit her last week and see her work and show her my own experiments as a moving image artist in the field of textiles. It was great to chat properly with another artist experimenting in this way, but also someone from a design background. I was also really interested to learn that her father (and engineer) used to machine-knit as a hobby. Elizabeth has developed a number of experiments exploring digital images in knitting, including her own logos, cultural icons, as well as a brilliant series of knitted portraits of lesser-known inventors.
The ‘Men With Ties‘ portraits each depict an inventor who unwittingly innovated a new technology that was subsequently used for a destructive purpose, such as the inventor of herbicide ‘Agent Orange’. Below is a summary from her own website:
The nine men presented in the series of knitted portraits are inventors whose innovative work intended the good of mankind. This creative technology has been subsequently destructive, exploited in ways that caused loss of life or impacted negatively on the environment. I wanted to reflect on the ‘hack’ of the knitting machine, how in changing something from its original purpose triggers negative and positive effects. These portraits signify a discrete ambivalence between original intention and interested applications or ‘use’. The legacy of the history of advanced technologies, is carried through machinic inventions. In the present, virtual information or data can be intercepted and re-purposed. The ‘electroknit’ installation interpolates data, superimposing the electronic and conceptual frameworks, to provide the freedom of technical information that can be liberated from its inherent political contradictions .