Guest post by Kate Myerscough
Technology, from the Greek 'tekhne' meaning craft or skill, permeates textiles' past and future. We still use some of humans’ earliest advancements such as weaving or felting both in their oldest forms and their newest. This connection between science and art is explored in Coded Threads: Textiles and Technology featuring Lia Cook at Washington's Western Gallery this September.
The textiles industry led the revolution that created modern life with the invention of the Spinning Jenny kickstarting the industrial revolution, and the automated punch cards for Jaquard weaving being an important step in the development of computing. Throughout history textiles have often used technology to create the inspiration, but now they are the inspiration themselves.
Lia Cook is an American artist specialising in Jacquard weaving amongst other media, whose practice questions the boundaries between art, science and craft. Her current work focuses on the emotional stimulus of the woven surface, in collaboration with neuroscientists. Drawing together physiological connections and those of actual fibres, Lia combines portraits with the workings of the brain.
Instead of the practical applications that often combine textiles and science (think of materials from the medical and military industries for example), Lia takes inspiration from science to amass research about the brain, representing it through thread. This analytical approach does not stop her work from being emotional however, as her portraits range from haunting images to ethereal, undefined figures hiding their features behind colourful abstract threads. The imagery created by neuroscience research pushes to the forefront the brain activity that's usually invisible to the naked eye, yet makes up each and every person in front of us.
Coded Threads: Textiles and Technology, 27 September - 8 December, 2017
516 High Street, Bellingham, WA 98225